Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Ski Resort Life

Weekends: Leadville, Colo.

A catskiing tour comes with a history lesson in this old mining town.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

Maybe you’ve passed through Leadville en route to Crested Butte or the Sangre de Cristo mountains. And maybe you thought “What a cute town, we oughta stop here.” But you never did. Well, you should. Leadville lays claim to lots of Colorado history, from the gold boom in the 1860s to silver mining up through the 1890s. Predictably, the town—the highest in the U.S. at 10,152 feet—was a
magnet for many of the colorful characters of the Wild West, including Doc Holliday, Unsinkable Molly Brown and Wyatt Earp. Today, winter is the undeniable off-season, and the nearby slopes of Ski Cooper and its resident snowcat operation make for an uncrowded ski weekend.


Ski Cooper  Cooper may be small—two lifts, 26 trails—but its slopes boast some impressive legacies. In 1942, the U.S. Army erected a training site at Camp Hale, partly because of its proximity to Cooper’s 11,700-foot slopes. And thus the 10th Mountain Division was born. The soldiers who trained on skis for mountain warfare went on to help liberate northern Italy from the Germans during World War II.  Some of their gear hangs in Cooper’s base lodge. The slopes are easily skied in less than a day, so sign up for Chicago Ridge Snowcat Tours, 2,460 acres of open bowl skiing, glades and ample steeps above the resort. $275 for Chicago Ridge (10–15 runs); lift tickets are $42;


Columbine Inn & Suites  Located on the right just as you roll into Leadville from the north. The Columbine is comfy enough, with king and queen rooms and several suites. It’s the closest hotel to Ski Cooper (nine miles) but about a three-minute drive to downtown. Hot tub and continental breakfast count among the amenities. $65–$145;


Tennessee Pass Cookhouse  Don showshoes or Nordic skis for the one-mile trip on a groomed trail through pines and bare stands of aspens to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse. Warm up with a glass of wine by the wood stove inside the cozy yurt before dining on entrees such as grilled elk tenderloin and Colorado rack of lamb. Reservations required. $75 per person;


Silver Dollar Saloon One of Leadville’s oldest bars, the Silver Dollar opened in 1883. It’s a
veritable museum, still sporting the antique back bar made by the famed Dubuque, Iowa–based Brunswick Company.Check out the booth in the front room where Doc Holliday allegedly killed his last victim. Then have the barkeep pull you a Guinness. It is an Irish bar, after all.  719-486-9914


Melanzana  With a crew of five employees who design and make everything, Melanzana peddles
high-quality outdoor clothing using only materials made in the U.S. The Hard Face Hoodie ($136) makes a great midlayer on a cold day—or a comfy jacket for springtime après beers on the deck.