8 Great Ways to Explore History this Winter in Leadville & Twin LakesFebruary 15, 2020
If you’d like to learn more about Colorado’s past, explore Leadville and Twin Lakes history this winter and spring! Here, links to the past abound. From museums to winter trails to Victorian architecture, you’ll find unique character in our genuine and historic mountain towns. If you’re on a ski vacation and need a break from the slopes, or your family members don’t ski, exploring our history is an excellent way to enjoy the area.
Check out these eight great history ideas.
1) Discover the National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum
Full of life-sized mine replicas, mining equipment, dioramas, crystals and gems, and fun for the whole family! The 25,000 square foot National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum tells the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability. Regular hours Tues.-Sun., 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Now open ’til 8 p.m. on Fridays!
2) Visit Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin
Learn about life in an 1880s silver boomtown at the beautifully restored Healy House Museum. See lavish Victorian furnishings collected by Leadville pioneers. Tour the surprisingly plush 1879 log cabin of mining investor and businessman James V. Dexter. Guided tours Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. through May 2020. Please note: For the safety of the community amid COVID-19 concerns, Healy House Museum & Dexter Cabin will be closed until at least Saturday, April 4, 2020. Please see the Healy House Facebook page for updates.
3) Tour Temple Israel
Learn about the lives of Jewish pioneers during Leadville’s mining boom era. Tour the oldest of the area’s frontier synagogues, Temple Israel, built in 1884. Marvel at its collection of artifacts about Leadville, the city’s resident Jews, Temple Israel as a synagogue, and life in a mining town in the 1880s and 1890s. Open by appointment year ‘round; call to make an appointment. (303) 709-7050 or (719) 293-1551.
4) Explore Downtown Leadville
Stroll through 70 square blocks of National Historic Landmark District in downtown Leadville, renowned for its Victorian architecture. Explore the numerous shops, saloons, and restaurants. Check out our self-guided tour (p. 12 of the Leadville/Lake County Heritage Guide) and the best ways to walk back in time in downtown Leadville.
5) Enjoy Winter Sports and Mining History
For an active tour of mining history, travel our Mineral Belt Trail and East Side Mining District to see original mining headframes and relics, plus jaw-dropping views of surrounding peaks. The Mineral Belt Trail includes interpretive signs, to help you better understand the area’s colorful mining history.
- Mineral Belt Trail: Snowshoe, cross-country ski, or fat bike.
- East Side Mining District: All of the above + snowmobile tours!
Now through end of April (or as snow conditions allow). Come back in the summer for hiking and biking!
6) Discover Twin Lakes Off-Season
Visit this historic village for a glimpse of late 1800s life. You can do the Twin Lakes walking tour all year long. See a schoolhouse built in 1895 that served through 1959, a dance hall built in 1888, an adobe hotel, a blacksmith shop, and much more. While much of the small village is closed in winter, the Twin Lakes Inn & Saloon, formerly a stagecoach stop and brothel, is open on winter weekends. Enjoy romantic lodging and delicious meals: dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s a great jumping-off point to explore the area and celebrate Twin-ter!
7) Snowshoe or Fat Bike to Interlaken
Snowshoe or mountain bike to the Interlaken Resort, on the shores of Twin Lakes. An escape for wealthy miners in the late 1800s, it can be reached only by a four-mile round-trip trail in winter. Breeze through the unlocked doors of Dexter Cabin, now being restored, and climb a steep ladder for a view from the top tower.
8) Watch for Passport News this Spring!
The Passport to Leadville History is being revamped for 2020, with great history attractions and discounts planned! It will feature the area’s eight intriguing museums, which are chock full of the history of mining and life on the Colorado frontier. Look for it in the spring; all area museums open for the season by Memorial Day weekend.