Great Living in Leadville
by Anna Sophia Wolner
“We ♥ Leadville, Great Living at 10,200′ ” read the sign I saw on my drive into Leadville for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this little mountain town, but I was intrigued.
Driving into Leadville, I noticed the brightly colored houses and Western-style storefronts, touting similar vibrancy. There was a comfortable feeling to the place—a welcoming presence. Driving through town takes about one minute. Just outside of the main drag is the road up to the Colorado Mountain College campus. We arrived at the top of a hill to discover a beautiful campus, modern buildings, and friendly faces ready to welcome students.
With a car full of everything I own, my parents and I proceeded to unload it all, box by box, into my new room. Here, I met several new students, from states far and wide, all equally as flustered and anxious about the hustle and bustle of move-in day. The RA’s and staff guided us to where we needed to be, and we soon settled in to our new dwellings. The first day was an exciting combination of unpacking a mess of belongings, popping in and out of each others open doors meeting new friends, and getting to know our roommates.
For many students, it was a totally new experience—living away from parents for the first time. This kind of realization is very exciting, and there was a buzz in the air that seemed to say “we can do anything, so let’s!”. I had been traveling around a lot since graduating high school in 2013. Living apart from my parents was not a new notion, but it was my first time living in a college dorm—which is a unique experience in itself.
Months went by, and we were all accustomed to living around one another, sharing spaces and eating together in the dining hall. The excitement of the first day had faded, but a comfortable routine and familiarity had taken its place. We had created a little home away from home—which was easy to do, considering our luxurious amenities.
Living in the dorms at CMC is exponentially better than most housing at universities; Not many students get to wake up and see the sunrise over Colorado’s tallest peaks, nor do they get to watch the sunset over the same range while doing homework. We have our own in-room bathrooms—this is insanely amazing. There are only three floors, so you can easily know just about everyone here and where their rooms are located—at the least, you know almost everyone on your floor. We have the opportunity to hang out or study with each other, but we also have the option of relaxing alone, these are benefits often found at such a small residence hall. Day to day life isn’t full of bells and whistles on every occasion, but it is an incredibly tranquil place to live, with space for your mind to clear and de-stress. Most college campuses are busy and crowded, full of strangers—here, we have nature literally at our doorstep, we can find quiet at a stone’s throw.
In addition to making CMC our home, we have gotten to know the town of Leadville—the workings of mountain-town daily life and how we play a role in this community.
Leadville is extremely unique. I can walk to town from campus–about a 30 minute walk at a leisurely pace–and explore the quaint, welcoming town. I can put in my headphones and admire the brightly painted houses with eager pups in the yard, waiting to adventure with their owners. People are happy here, that much is very apparent, and it makes for a friendly community. I have come to realize that Leadville is very different from other mountain towns.
The ski industry is very present here and outdoor recreation is a priority for residents and tourists alike. However, unlike Vail, Aspen, or Breckenridge—popular ski towns nearby—Leadville is more affordable and approachable for the average vacationer. The high prices of many ski towns often deter those who cannot afford to spend a week skiing, subsequently draining their bank account. Leadville is an anomaly: one of the most beautiful mountain towns in an absolutely prime location—nestled between two ski resorts, a short drive to Denver, and kind to your wallet.
Another reason Leadville is set apart from other ski towns is its unpretentious nature. Unfortunately, some highly affluent towns breed an essence of ‘better-than-you’ bad attitudes. Leadville stands apart from that. The energy here encourages supportive and friendly interactions, be it community members, CMC students and staff, and out-of-towners—here, the luxuries of mountain life are accessible to anyone and everyone.
What I’ve learned from life in Leadville, from life at CMC, is that the condition of a community will definitely have an impact on the kind of experience you have. Leadville is fueled by positive energy as well as a community of people who support each other. As a result, my experience at CMC has been a fulfilling and full of varied experiences—each of which expanded my mind, encouraging and broadening my perspectives. Leadville showed me how all the little differences come together to make something unique and interesting. We are all individuals, but together we make a community. That same sense of community is translated to the Colorado Mountain College campus—a community college for a town focused on community. A harmonious convergence. This is life at 10,200 ft. This is ‘Cloud City’. This is great living in Leadville.