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Leadville: Top of the World

The highest incorporated city in North America at 10,156 feet, Leadville, Colorado is home to hardy souls, endurance athletes and awesome winter experiences.

Photo: Diana Lange

While there are things to do, see, eat and drink year round in Leadville, it is in winter that the town of fewer than 3,000 people comes alive. There is, of course, skiing at Cooper as well as other outdoor activities such as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, as well as annual events and, this year, there is a special event that will, for a brief time, focus the eyes of winter sports enthusiasts around the country on the town. 


Photo: Cooper

Just outside town is Cooper ski area. Covering 470 acres, Cooper has undergone some changes this winter including 70 new acres of advanced terrain. Among the new advanced runs are Powder Stache and Solstice, both of which are glades with steep grades; Bumpus Rumpus and Swan Song, two new chutes; and cleared runs Maverick and Viper. Then there is the new Tennessee Creek Basin where 19 new named trails, all served by a new lift, await. 


Photo: Lake County Tourism Panel

One of Leadville’s premier events every winter is the Leadville Skijoring and Crystal Carnival Weekend. Taking place from March 6-8, the weekend is a celebration of outdoor fun. Skijoring, for those who don’t know, is an action-packed sport where a horse pulls a skier and races down Leadville’s snow-covered downtown by a rope, taking off over jumps as they go. It is quintessential Colorado and combines two facets of mountain living: winter sports and the ranching culture. And that isn't all. The weekend festival also includes mountain bike and Nordic ski races, a paintball biathlon, and all kinds of other fun events with something for everyone. 

In the National Spotlight 

This winter, Leadville will play host to the 2020 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships from Feb. 28 – March 1, 2020. The event will feature a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon and a marathon. Around 300 racers, from the very young to the quite old, are expected. The event will also include the first-ever National Collegiate Snowshoe Championships.

And when you are done enjoying all of the above, there are great places to eat, drink and stay. The family-owned Periodic Brewing is Leadville’s only brewery (for now) and offers a great range of beers, while the historic Delaware Hotel is a great place to rest up after a busy day. Built by the Callaway brothers from Delaware in 1886 as the Delaware Hotel Block, the hotel is nothing short of awesome. As for what to eat, Harrison Avenue is lined with a really good range of restaurants from Chinese to Cuban. 

Away from the cold, there is the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. At one time called the “Smithsonian of the Rockies,” the museum tells the story of mining and how it impacted the development of the West.


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