Up here it’s all about the spectacular Rocky Mountains – the views, the vistas and the amazing heights. At 10,200 feet, Leadville, surrounded by 14,000-foot behemoths, is the highest incorporated community in the United States. Yet, this is not just about the mountain beauty of snow-capped peaks towering over lush green valleys and canyons, wildlife playing on the mountainsides and picturesque wildflowers. There’s also a very intriguing story about the 1860s mining boom that changed Colorado, found in a series of mining towns – one about the gold, silver and other minerals dug out of the mountains – hundreds of millions of dollars of resources that made some people very rich and gained others at least a living. Colossal peaks in this area yielded fortunes of mammoth proportions, like that of Horace Tabor, who became one of the titans of Colorado’s silver industry. The 82-mile Top of the Rockies skims across the highest reaches of the Rockies, while passing through mining communities and quaint towns. A 40-mile extension to the byway travels from Aspen to the original beginning of the route at Twin Lakes. Independence Pass starts at 9,200 feet and climbs to 12,095 feet at the summit, ringed with peaks of 13,000 feet including Mt. Champion, Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, Grizzly Peak and Casco Peak. Enjoy the drive while exploring the story.