The Best Mountain Towns In Colorado Come In 9 Different Flavors
These small towns in Colorado are filled with everything you would imagine, from historic buildings, art galleries, delicious restaurants, famous breweries and beautiful mountain scenery. There is something for everyone on our list of the 9 Best Mountain Towns in Colorado.
Telluride is located about six hours from Denver in the Colorado mountains. There is a small airport, so flying into Telluride is also an option.
If you are looking for outdoor activities, then Telluride is the place to go. You can ski and golf in one of Colorado’s most picturesque towns. Among other things in Telluride are the Sheridan Opera House (a performing-arts venue) and the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.
If you like national historic sites, you will also fall in love with this town. It is a National Historic Landmark due to its mining history, and you can learn all about it at the Telluride Historical Museum. You can also immerse yourself in history by taking a day trip just a couple of hours west to Hovenweep National Monument.
Breckenridge is about a 90-minute drive from Denver and sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range.
Breck, as the locals call it, has a deep Gold Rush history. The Breckenridge Historic District (mostly along Main Street) is filled with Victorian-style buildings. Dating back to the 1880s, these buildings now offer shopping, galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, and plenty of watering holes.
Breckenridge might be a small town, but there’s no shortage of things to do. Snowboarding and skiing are always in high demand, but don’t be surprised if you see families fly by on dog sleds. With so much to do, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best small towns in Colorado.
Aspen is located about three and a half hours from Denver and is easily one of the most popular places in the Colorado mountains. Take the turn at Glenwood Springs and you will arrive shortly. There is also a small airport for fly-in options.
Aspen has plenty of outdoor recreation year-round. Known for its “high-end” lodging and restaurants, it’s not surprising to see celebrities walking the streets.
Even the famous visitors can’t overshadow attractions like the Maroon Bells. These imposing 14,000-foot peaks are the most photographed in North America and are absolutely breathtaking.
Crested Butte is about a four-hour drive from Denver and one of the best mountain towns in Colorado.
Outdoor enthusiasts love this town that is tucked away just north of the Gunnison National Park. A mountain bikers paradise, Crested Butte is filled with trails and Nordic ski routes around town. You can also go dog sledding through the Colorado mountains or spend your days fly fishing or golfing. With so many options, it stands out among the small towns in Colorado.
Crested Butte has a true small-town feel, and you’ll find locals sitting on one of the many benches along Elk Avenue. They gather, drink coffee, read the paper, and interact with people who pass by. This is small-town living at its finest.
Do you want to explore the surrounding area? The West Elk Loop scenic byway and Kebler Pass are close by for a nice drive.
Cripple Creek is a quick two-and-a-half-hour ride from Denver. The town is located at the base of Pike’s Peak, which is one of Colorado’s highest mountains at 14,115 feet.
This former gold mining camp is also just 44 miles from Colorado Springs, but don’t get in a hurry to head to the nearby town in search of greener pastures. You’ll find plenty to enjoy within this town’s borders. If you have an interest in gold mining, you’ll enjoy touring the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine and visiting the Cripple Creek Heritage Center. You can also follow in the footsteps of the miners and try to strike it rich during your trip. Instead of mining for gold, though, you’ll search for jackpots at one of the small town’s nine casinos.
Ouray is about a five-and-a-half-hour ride from Denver. There is a small airport in the neighboring town of Montrose for fly-in options.
This town is sometimes called the Switzerland of America and if you ever go, you’ll know why.
The word Ouray means “The Arrow” and the town was named this because it sits in a narrow valley with steep mountains on three sides. Its location makes it a prime spot for outdoor recreation, including skiing, whitewater rafting, and ice climbing. You can also enjoy the hot springs when you visit Ouray.
Estes Park is about a 90-minute drive from Denver.
Estes Park is home to the Rocky Mountain National Park. A breathtaking ride over Trail Ridge Road will bring you to Grand Lake and the west side of RMNP.
Estes is well known for its elk herds and their bugling calls in the fall during mating season.
While the elk herds are most active during mating season, other activities and attractions are available year-round. The Riverwalk is among the most popular attractions. It runs through the heart of the downtown area and is full of sights and sounds. You can also enjoy shopping, stop by a restaurant, and so much more along the Riverwalk.
Leadville is about a two-hour ride from Denver.
There is plenty of snow and Victorian buildings in this elevated town. At 10,151 feet, Leadville sits at the foot of Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, two of Colorado’s highest peaks.
Be sure to bundle up if you visit Leadville in the winter. Temperatures have been known to drop as low as -31 degrees. While it can get cold, it’s still popular winter destination thanks to its hundreds of skiable acres and affordable lodging.
You don’t have to spend your time in the great outdoors to appreciate Leadville, though. You can get a heavy dose of Wild West mining history when you visit what was once a lawless mining town. Stop by the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum and then take the Route of the Silver Kings to learn some mining history.
Vail is about a two-hour drive from Denver.
Set within White River National Forest, Vail sits at the base of Vail Mountain. The ski area in Vail is one of the top places to ski in all of North America.
Vail also offers plenty of summertime activities including golfing, hiking, festivals, farmers markets, and concerts in the square. Summertime is also when Vail hosts some of its signature events, including Vail America Days, Kids Adventure Games, and the Vail Craft Beer and Rocky Mountain Burger Battle.