Leadville is a historic mining town in the center of the Rocky Mountains. The town has an official elevation of 10,152′ and a population of 2,600. The town is surrounded by national forest filled with tall peaks reaching over 14,000′ elevation, including nearby Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado.
Leadville is a very popular tourist destination due to it’s scenery, outdoor events and competitions, proximity to Denver, and cool summer climate. For this reason the small town is very busy during the summer and can be congested and crowded, especially on weekends.
Leadville, Colorado, & Southern Railroad
A great family activity in the Leadville area is a ride on the historic train. The entire route isn’t very far but it’s a casual slow ride with plenty of time for sightseeing, and even a photography stop or two.
The most authentic and informative experience in Leadville is a tour of the Hopewell Mine. Rather than a tourist mine or a museum re-creation, the Hopewell is an operating gold mine that happens to also give tours. An informal and friendly experience, the tour was given by Bob Caldwel, a seasoned miner and the Hopewell owner. The Hopewell Mine is one of the last mines in Colorado still open for tours.
A short but rocky drive up County Rd 3 to Mountain Lake is a great place to see blooming wildflowers and towering mountains. With a good 4WD vehicle, it’s possible to continue on Rd 3 up and over Mosquito Pass. At 13,185′ it’s one of the highest passes in Colorado.
Leadville National Fish Hatchery
The fish hatchery is operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is open to the public and features the historic hatchery building, a network of nature trails, wildlife, and of course scenic views of the surrounding peaks.
Most of the historic mine ruins in the Leadville area are private property, and many are still active mine claims. Additionally, abandoned mines are dangerous and the ruins can be fragile and easily damaged. However, the public roads surrounding Leadville offer good close-up views of many historic sites.