Railroad Bridge - Leadville - Turquoise Lake
From Railroad Bridge we got back on the highway and ran into three tourers from Boulder who were also headed for Leadville. We played leapfrog with them all day. We stopped for water at Granite but the town was shut down. Scott was carrying extra and gave us some.
The view today was dominated by the Collegiate Peaks, fifteen 14,000+ foot mountains that form a chain to the west of the Arkansas valley. Very impressive.
The upper Arkansas valley was in an obvious state of decline from it's heyday when there were many mines operating. The last mine shutdown in Leadville in 1999. We passes many boarded up buildings and whole towns that looked like little more than ghost towns. There was a healthy effort to fill the gap with tourism, mostly river rafting, especially in Buena Vista, but beyond that not much. Leadville does attract some tourists and had a revitalized downtown, but you could tell it was a struggle. They do host an awesome mountain bike race each year.
Once we got into Lake County the nice wide shoulder disappeared and some trucks buzzed by pretty close. It was gray and chilly when we got to Leadvile. Leadville claims to be the highest incorporated town in the US at over 10,000'. We ate at Doc Holiday's which was just what you'd expect it to be. Good food as well. From there we went to the town welcome center to look at maps before heading out to the campground. On the way out we passed some old Victorian houses that were being painted with bright colors. The town is trying hard not to fade away.
It was mostly downhill to the May Queen campground on Turquoise Lake. Very few campers as it was already getting cool. Here it was September first and summer was over, the campgrounds were shutting down, and the tourists going home. I'm glad we have such a long fall here in Oregon.