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Leadville, Colorado Overview (Things to Do, Hotels, Restaurants & More)

Leadville, Colorado Overview (Things to Do, Hotels, Restaurants & More)

As the highest city in the United States at 10,158 feet above sea level, Leadville is a great addition to any Colorado itinerary.

While the city is just over one square mile in size, it is the perfect place to base oneself to explore the ins and outs of the nearby mountains.

Whether you want to walk around town, hike 14ers, jump in some lakes, or explore nearby, there are plenty of things to do in Leadville.

Read on to learn more about Leadville, Colorado and all that it has to offer.

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1) History of Leadville

Believe it or not, Leadville is one of the more important historical cities in the United States.

Here are some fun facts about the history of Leadville and how it came to be:

  • Discovery: The history of Leadville began in the 1860s when gold was discovered in the nearby California Gulch area. Soon after, people started to come in by the thousands. Just 5 years after the initial gold rush, more than $4 million worth of gold was found.
  • City Expansion: Within the next 20 years, there were 30,000 people who moved into the Leadville area. The town continued to come together with restaurants, hotels, gambling halls, and more than 100 saloons.
  • Famous Residents: Through those years, there were many successful financiers who began their careers in Leadville. Just some of them included Horace Tabor, the Guggenheims, W.B. Daniels, David May, among several others.
  • Today: While Leadville is not what it used to be, it is now a scenic little town lined with shops & food options, and the mountains standing tall out in the distance.
  • Leadville Altitude: fun fact! Leadville stands at 10,158 feet above sea level, making it the highest town in all of the United States.
Leadville History

2) Things To Do in Leadville

Whether you want to explore some things to do in Leadville itself, or simply use it as a base to head further out, below is a list of many of top options in the area.

Walk Around Town

For a first time visitor, walking around town is certainly worth the effort. The town isn’t that big as it is made up of one main street (Harrison Avenue) that spans around 8 blocks.

As you head up and down the street, major mountain peaks will be in constant view looking westbound. Along Harrison Street and its nearby blocks, there will be many colorful and unique buildings that bring the town together.

Small shops, restaurants, hotels, bars, and more line the streets, making it a pleasant stroll to take part of.

Harrison Avenue
Leadville Houses


The most famous of stores in Leadville (and one of the most well known ones in all of Colorado) is Melanzana.

Melanzana is not only a store that sells high quality outdoor clothing, but it is also one that has its factory within the store itself.

All of the garments made are locally designed and sewed within the store/factory. In addition, the clothing is not sold online, rather only within the store itself.

Due to its popularity, quality, and the fact that it is locally made, appointments must be made months in advance to reserve a spot to shop in the store.

During my time in Leadville, the next appointment was all the way in December, and we were only in July! So, if Leadville is on the list, be sure to make an appointment right when you know your dates.


Leadville Mining Museum

As mentioned earlier, the history of Leadville began with mining. So, to go off of that, a Leadville Mining Museum was created to teach people about its rich history.

The museum includes many replicas, stories, and helpful info to learn more about the Leadville mining history. Also included is the National Mining Hall of Fame, where you can read 250+ stories about those that received accomplishments in the mining space.

If you are visiting between the months of June through September, the Matchless Mine is another part to visit. There you can actually visit one of the original silver mines in the area (owned by Horace Tabor).

National Mining Museum

Leadville Railroad

Another fun attraction that can be visited in the area is the Leadville Railroad.

The railroad gives visitors the chance to explore the mountains in style as you ride the train, take in the views, and head further into the nature filled San Isabel National Forest.

Rides last 2.5 hours and are full of informative history, anecdotes, and plenty of scenic natural landscape all around.

The train gains around 1,000 feet of elevation along the Arkansas River Valley as mountains, valleys, and more come into view during the journey.

Feel free to check out the latest schedules and prices for rides during your stay. Expect two departures in the summertime, with one departure during the spring and fall.

There is also a winter express schedule if you happen to be in the area during that time.

Leadville Railroad

Turquoise Lake

There are a few lake areas near Leadville that can be visited during a trip to the area. One of these is Turquoise Lake, located just 5 miles west town.

Spending some time by the lake is a perfect way to spend an afternoon or even full day.

Whether you want to just lay on the shoreline, head out on a boat/SUP/kayak, go fishing, or just walk along the lakeside, there is plenty that can be done around the waters.

There are also campground areas around the lake, which can be reserved through

For those that are taking on some nearby hikes, I would recommend heading to the lake after to cool down and relax. I always find that to be just a calming and soothing way to end the day after climbing some mountains.

Twin Lakes Leadville

If you head around 20 minutes south of Leadville, you will come across the Twin Lakes area. The Twin Lakes marks that beginning of the Independence Pass, which heads on over to Aspen.

Similarly, to Turquoise Lake, the Twin Lakes also offer swimming, kayaking, SUP, and even boat tours.

There are also hiking & biking trails that encircle the lake (one of the more popular trails heads to the old Interlaken Resort).

After spending time by the lakeside, you can also visit the small town of Twin Lakes itself.

Twin Lakes Colorado

Leadville 100

One of, if not the most famous races in the world is the Leadville 100.

The Leadville Race Series comprises of many different events. The main two are the 100 mile endurance run and the 100 miles endurance bike ride.

The routes start at around 10,000 feet and climb all the way up to 12,000+ feet. Its known as the “Race Across the Sky” and every year top athletes make their way to Leadville to take part.

In addition to the main races, there are many shorter courses that competitors can take part of. If you are looking to experience this one of a kind event, be sure to check out the latest for registration, schedules, and more.

Mt Massive from Leadville

Leadville to Aspen (Independence Pass)

One of the highest roads in the United States is the Independence Pass, which connects US-24 with Aspen.

The Independence Pass offers a curvy and windy road that offers views, trailheads, and an overall scenic drive.

Once you arrive in Aspen, you can then enjoy all that this mountain town has to offer. Whether you want to hit the hiking trails, take the gondola up the mountain, or just walk around town.

The drive from Leadville to Aspen should take around 1.5 hours as you head down US-24, pass by the Twin Lakes, and then make the drive along the Independence Pass.

There are a few pullover points along the route, if you want to simply step out and enjoy the surroundings. A top hike along the road is the Independence Lakes and Lost Man Lake trail.

Mineral Belt Trail

For those looking to take a nice stroll or bike right from town, heading onto the nearby Mineral Belt Trail is a great option to consider.

The 12 mile trail was built to provide people to learn more about the mining history of the area and give them the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscape along the way.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, giving it a more relaxing experience for those that take part.

You can hop onto the trail at various points, and walk for as long as you would like. Be sure to check out the Mineral Belt site for more info about the trail itself.

Mineral Belt Trail

3) Leadville Hikes

One of the main reasons I decided to stay in Leadville during my time in Colorado is that it is very accessible to some of the top hiking trails (including many 14ers).

Here are some hikes that are within an hour or so drive from Leadville:

Mayflower Gulch

  • Distance: 6.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,550 feet
  • Highlights: scenic cabins surrounded by mountains
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 20 minutes

Mohawk Lakes

  • Distance: 10 miles or 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet or 1,700 feet
  • Highlights: 7 different lakes along a beautiful trail
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 1 hour
  • Trail Guide: Mohawk Lakes Trail
Upper Mohawk View

Twin Lakes Interlaken

  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Highlights: hiking along the lake to a historic resort
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 25 minutes

Herman Gulch

  • Distance: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Highlights: scenic trail to alpine lake
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 50 minutes

Mount Sniktau

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,550 feet
  • Highlights: 13er overlooking the Gore Range (add on Grizzly Peak too!)
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 55 minutes
  • Trail Guide: Mt Sniktau Hike
Sniktau Summit

Lost Man & Independence Lake

  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
  • Highlights: multiple lake trail off of Independence Pass
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 50 minutes

Below are some of the closest 14ers to Leadville, if you are trying to hike the tallest mountains in the state.

Mount Elbert

  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet
  • Highlights: hiking the highest mountain in Colorado
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 25 minutes
  • Trail Guide: Mount Elbert Hike
Mt Elbert Hiking

Mount Massive

  • Distance: 13 miles or 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet or 3,900 feet
  • Highlights: hiking the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 25 minutes
  • Trail Guide: Mount Massive Hike
Mt Massive View

Mount Yale

  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,300 feet
  • Highlights: one of the best hikes of the Collegiate Peaks
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 55 minutes
  • Trail Guide: Mount Yale Hike
Mt Yale Summit Views

Mount Harvard

  • Distance: 14 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,600 feet
  • Highlights: hiking up the Horn Fork Basin in the middle of the Sawatch
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 1 hour
  • Trail Guide: Mount Harvard Hike
Top of Mt Harvard

Mount Columbia

  • Distance: 11.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet
  • Highlights: can be combined with Harvard along the ridge traverse
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 1 hour

Mount of the Holy Cross

  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 5,600 feet
  • Highlights: hiking one of the most iconic looking mountains
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 75 minutes
  • Trail Guide: Mt of the Holy Cross Hike
Mount of the Holy Cross Lake

La Plata Peak

  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Highlights: easy to access trail with 360 degree views
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 40 minutes
  • Trail Guide: La Plata Peak Hike
La Plata Peak Summit

Huron Peak

  • Distance: 7 miles or 11 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet or 3,800 feet
  • Highlights: one of the top regarded 14ers in the Sawatch
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 1 hour
  • Trail Guide: Huron Peak Hike
Mount Huron Summit

Quandary Peak

  • Distance: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,450 feet
  • Highlights: the sole 14er in the Tenmile Range
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 1 hour
  • Trail Guide: Quandary Peak Hike
Quandary Peak Views

The DeCaLiBron

  • Distance: 7.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
  • Highlights: Hiking 4 14ers in one loop trail
  • Driving Time from Leadville: 90 minutes
  • Trail Guide: DeCaLiBron Hike
Mount Lincoln Summit

4) Leadville Restaurants

Lining Harrison Avenue and its side streets are many different restaurants with a variety of cuisines to choose from.

Treeline Kitchen

This very well be my favorite restaurant in Leadville. Treeline includes a menu with top tier food items such as salads, fish, chicken, and various meats.

In addition, the vibe & overall décor of the restaurant makes this a top tier place to add to your list. You may need to consider making a reservation here as well.

Tennessee Pass Café

Another top rated reataurant in Leadville, is the Tennesse Pass Café. While you can sit inside for the meal, there is a great outdoor patio to sit down at as well.

The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and their famous Melanzana rolls. You can’t go wrong when it comes to this restaurant.

Tennessee Pass Cafe

Casa Sanchez

Looking for Mexican food in Leadville? Casa Sanchez is the place to be. This local spot has an extensive Mexican menu that includes anything you would want when it comes to the cuisine.

Golden Burro

Believe it or not, there is actually a vegan café in Leadville – the Golden Burro.

There is a variety of food here including American, Jewish, Thai and Mexican, making this an eclectic place to visit.

You can visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner and choose from all sorts of vegan food that may not sound vegan to begin with.

High Mountain Pies

When it comes to pizza in Leadville, High Mountain Pies is tough to beat. I enjoyed it so much, I ended visiting twice during my stay.

It is a small shop but there is a great outdoor seating area behind the store. In addition, be on the lookout for some live music that can pop up during the warmer months.

Silver Dollar Saloon

Perhaps the most iconic of establishments in Leadville is the Silver Dollar Saloon. Step back in the past and get a better sense of what historical Leadville was all about.

It is not only about the drinks here though, as there is an extensive bar menu to choose from as well. Definitely head in one night to just enjoy the atmosphere and see what makes it so famous.

Silver Dollar Saloon

Silver Llama

If you are looking to have a nice brunch in Leadville, then the Silver Llama is one of the top spots to choose from. Eggs, avocado toast, French toast and more can be found on their menu.

Quincy’s Steak & Spirits

When it comes to steakhouses in Leadville, Quincy’s is the top choice. The menu is nice and simple though. You choose from Filet Mignon or Prime Rib and then include some various side dishes.


5) Leadville Hotels

Although Leadville is quite a small place, there are still several hotels & inns to choose from. Below are some of the top spots to consider during your time in the area.

Delaware Hotel: the hotel is located directly in town and is the most historic hotel in Leadville, with origins dating back to 1886.

Columbine Inn: this inn & suites combo is just a short drive from town, and offers queen, double queen, and king suite rooms (check rates for Columbine Inn).

Rodeway Inn: just south of town is the Rodeway Inn, which is a comfortable and basic option for those that want to be nearby (check rates for Rodeway Inn).

Silver King Inn: located right next to the Columbine Inn is the Silver King Inn. It includes a variety of rooms starting from single Queens to Honeymoon Suites.

Grand West Village Resort: this cabin getaway is about a 5 minute drive from the town center. But it offers a much more homey and secluded experience than staying at a standard hotel.

Tiny House Leadville: just as it says, this hotel is more so made up of tiny houses. There are several to choose from and are priced lower than most options on the list (check rates for Tiny House).

Inn the Clouds Hostel & Inn: for a cheaper hostel alternative, the Hostel Inn is the choice here. You can choose from shared dorm rooms or private beds for an overall more affordable option (check rates for Inn the Clouds Hostel).

Leadville Mountains

6) Leadville Camping

For those that rather take part of a camping experience, instead of staying in a hotel, there are some options to consider.

As mentioned earlier, two of the more popular campgrounds are nearby the lakes.

  • Twin Lakes: at the Twin Lakes you can choose from several campgrounds including Dexter, Lakeview, Parry Peak, Twin Peaks and White Star
  • Turquoise Lake: same goes for the nearby Turquoise Lake, where you can find Baby Doe, Molly Brown, and May Queen campgrounds
  • Camp Hale: the most historic campground in Leadville is at Camp Hale. This used to be a training grounds during WWII, where 15,000+ men trained in mountaineering and skiing
  • Leadville RV Corral & Sugar Loafin: these are two more private camping options for RVs and some campsites
Leadville Park

7) Map of Leadville

To recap all that Leadville has to offer, below is a map that highlights most of the places mentioned on the list. Everything including things to do, hotels, restaurants, and more!

That about wraps up a guide to Leadville, Colorado! If you have any questions or comments about the town, feel free to add them in below.

Also, don’t forget to check out the other Colorado travel guides up on the site.

Have fun out there and safe travels!

Leadville Co

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