Transportation Options at Two-Miles-High
It’s the beginning of the holiday travel season in Leadville Today. Knowing how to get around, and up and down the mountain is essential. There are plenty of public transportation and private shuttle options that can save you a lot of hassle, time and money. Here’s Leadville Today Contributor Brennan Ruegg’s Two-Miles-High travel report. If you’re visiting, welcome to America’s highest city, and if you’re off to your own adventures: Happy Trails!
by Brennan Ruegg, © Leadville Today
Traveling to and from Colorado’s highest city can be daunting in the wintertime. And although Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) does a superb job keeping the highways safe, there’s nothing they can do about ill-prepared drivers and unexpected changes in weather. Not everyone has a vehicle prepared to take on the region’s winding, often poorly visible, and slick roadways–in fact, not everyone has a vehicle. So what viable options are there when a friend flies in to visit or when cabin fever sets in?
A traveler can step right off Leadville’s Historic Harrison Avenue into Denver Union Station for under $20, Denver International Airport (DIA) for under $30, and Vail for under $10. While talks continue about re-purposing old stagecoach roads or defunct rails from Eagle to Buena Vista, there is already in place a host of transit methods that run as far as Fort Collins and Glenwood Springs. Whether bringing in the family from DIA, tackling last minute Christmas shopping in the city, or getting to-and-from ski resorts, this list of services highlights the best alternatives to taking out the rear-wheel drive and/or bald-tire commuter that serves so well in the summertime. Starting with the closest and cheapest and ending in luxury and convenience, here they are:
The Summit Stage’s Lake County Commuter buses began operating on their winter schedule as of yesterday, November 18, 2018, which will continue until late-April. There are nine pick-up locations in Leadville and for $5 one-way this route connects to their extensive–and free–network in Summit County that runs to Copper Mountain, Frisco, Silverthorne/Dillon, Keystone, and Breckenridge. The CDOT Frisco Transfer Station connects with Bustang (below), Greyhound, and Park-n-Ride. Connect at Summit Stage for their 2018/2019 winter schedule.
This route provides limited morning and evening services along US 24 between Vail and Leadville with a transfer stop at the Forest Service Park and Ride for Highway 6 and Minturn Routes. Operating in the Vail Valley and offering destinations such as Minturn, Vail, Beaver Creek, Eagle and Gypsum, this is a service provided by Eagle County Regional Transportation Authority picking up in Leadville twice a day. Purchase a day pass for $14, or $7 buys a one-way ride: Log-on to the ECO website for their route schedules.
This CDOT service is now in its 3rd year, stopping twice a day at the Frisco Transfer Center, the closest access point to Leadville. This is a crucial component in getting to and from Colorado’s capital city–with only one connection, for under $20, and in less than four hours. Bustang’s North Line to Fort Collins/Colorado Springs also transfers in Denver. Connect online for full schedule and fares. Bustang is operated by Ace Express Coaches who, despite their low fares, provide a luxurious ride with wide and comfortable seating, free wifi, stowaway luggage, and onboard restrooms.
Sponsored by the University of Colorado, RTD’s new A-line is an express train from Denver Union Station to DIA for nine bucks. If headed to the airport via Bustang, this train, departing every 15 minutes, covers the last leg without breaking the $30 mark.
For those on tight schedules and with a little more to spend, most of Denver’s shuttle services won’t come direct to Leadville but pick up at Copper Mountain instead (accessible via Summit Stage). Oftentimes a more private ride, these shuttles are perfect for a straight shot to DIA while getting some work done on a free wifi connection. Book a shuttle for around $45 at whichever time of day is most convenient with Peak1 Express or Colorado Mountain Express.
Want to go your own way, but haven’t a vehicle fit for the drive? Hertz is located on US-24 at the Leadville-Lake County Airport and rents out a selection of vehicles equipped with all-wheel and four-wheel drive. Pick the car up in Leadville and drop it off at DIA, or pitch in with a group of friends to rent out a private ski-shuttle for the weekend. Hertz also offers business rentals at a competitive rate. Currently running deals for seniors, weekend rentals and metro parking, CLICK HERE to connect with Hertz and to place a reservation.
Think about these options if having doubts about a vehicle’s performance, waiting to spring for winter tires, or wanting to relax instead of white-knuckling it through the Rockies; a little more planning and patience are involved, but such is the case with most smart choices. Just don’t forget to bring along a good book.
Whether taking a service directly provided by CDOT or otherwise, thanks is always due to those who perform an unparalleled job in making mountain roadways safe in inclement weather (salt-free!) and who provide consistent travel advice, road conditions, and safety information. All this is available 24 hours a day on CDOT’s website, mobile app, or by calling 511.
Be sure to travel safely and conscientiously by whichever means, and remember, the best part about leaving Leadville is coming back!
Brennan Ruegg is a public transit enthusiast and loves offering travel advice to anyone trying to leave or come into the great city of Leadville.