Colorado Highway 91 Near Copper Basin Ski Resort
Colorado Highway 91 toward Leadville in January at 11,500 feet elevation


In anticipation of this trip, I suffered high anxiety about driving around the high mountains of Colorado in the dead of winter, but after watching the weather report, I breathed a sigh of relief and figured we had escaped any difficulties. — But the weather report was wrong. Our three-part trip featured the Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park, then Leadville in the very high mountains and finally back to Colorado Springs down below.

We had a bit of light snow most of our 3-hour drive from Estes Park to Leadville, but the snow and wind picked up in earnest before the Eisenhower Tunnel with trucks beginning chain-up right afterward. Our little vehicle had trouble getting up any speed in the big mountain pass, and as folks whizzed by in the snow, ice and wind, I kept wondering how they could drive in these conditions with such impunity. Highway 91 to Copper Basin and Leadville at 11,500 feet was much worse – snow-packed, but little traffic. I must say that our EcoSport never lost traction though. I was driving about 40 MPH and meanwhile, people somehow passed us on the icy two-lane road.

I also dreaded the prospect of brutal cold in Leadville, but the air is so dry here that it wasn’t a problem. It was actually refreshing. — We wandered around the streets of town snapping pictures and as I write this we are cozied up in our room in front of an open fireplace in the “The Majestic” B&B.

And as for driving and freezing to death anxiety, none of this was really that bad, but I am convinced I was divinely blessed with the perfect all-wheel-drive vehicle, a regular rental sedan would not have done so well …

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