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15 Best Colorado Mountain Towns

One of the things that Colorado does best is beautiful, historic mountain towns – seriously, Colorado mountain towns are awesome and there are a ridiculous amount in the Rocky Mountain State.

Colorado is the place to come if you want to learn more about the Wild West and the mining boom of the late 19th Century. There are old mines littering hillsides all over the state, and many mountain towns were born from this time.

Downtown Crested Butte, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

This is what makes Colorado mountain towns so special. There is an unusually high number of well-preserved 19th-century mining towns in the mountains of Colorado.

Some have fallen into disrepair and are now ghost towns, but many others have been restored and are thriving today as tourist hot spots and ski towns.

Whether you are into mining and Wild West history or not, the utterly enchanting mountain towns of Colorado are well worth visiting – especially if you are an outdoors lover.

I put together this list of the best mountain towns in Colorado to help you plan your visit. It was really hard to only pick 15 – the list quickly spiraled to 30-something – but I managed to cut it down so the choices wouldn’t be so daunting for you guys.

Telluride from the gondola

I have also written another list of awesome mountain towns close to Denver, so check that out for more incredible mountain towns!

Also, check out my most comprehensive Colorado guide – an epic road trip itinerary that will take you all over the state and includes the below mountain towns and much, much more.

The best way to tackle these mountain towns in Colorado is by flying into Denver and renting a car. Hope you love them as much as I do!

15 Best Mountain Towns in Colorado

Best Mountain Towns in Colorado Map

Check out my interactive map for the best mountain towns in Colorado.

1. Telluride

Beautiful Telluride is my absolute favorite Colorado mountain town, and it is mind-blowingly beautiful. Located at the end of a box canyon and surrounded by waterfalls and forested mountains, this historic town looks like a movie set – shiny and perfect.

The beautiful main street in Telluride - the best mountain town in Colorado

Although it is pretty out of the way in the southwest corner of the state, it is so worth visiting and there are so many things to do in Telluride all year round.

In summer, attend one of the many festivals in town like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, hit the hiking trails – there are lots to choose from, go tubing in the river, drink awesome local beer on a sunny patio with mountain views, and graze at the bustling weekly farmer’s market.

Telluride is an outdoor lover's paradise and one of the best mountain towns in Colorado Telluride from above - the best Colorado Mountain Town

Winter is all about snow sports, with the world-class Mountain Village resort only a short and scenic gondola ride away. Fall is my favorite time of year in Telluride though because the aspens all turn bright yellow and it is like the town is made of gold.

Don’t miss Telluride, honestly, you won’t regret it. 

For more on stunning Telluride, check out my post on this special town.

Where to Stay in Telluride: For camping options, stay at the Town Park Campground right in town or Sunshine Campground on the other side of Mountain Village. For free camping, stay at beautiful Priest Lake. 

Another non-camping affordable option is The Bivvi – an excellent hostel with dorm and private rooms, hot tubs, a small guest kitchen, and breakfast provided. 

For vacation rentals stay at this rustic mountain home or this cute studio which are both right downtown. For hotels, Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village, or the New Sheridan Hotel. 

Hiking above Telluride, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Where to Eat in Telluride: If you are in Telluride on a Friday, don’t miss the weekly farmer’s market, otherwise eat at award-winning Brown Dog Pizza for awesome Detroit-style pizzas, Smuggler Union for upscale pub grub, and Baked in Telluride for pastries, soups, and sandwiches.

Where to Drink in Telluride: Telluride Brewing Company for inventive beer – do a flight to taste a range, Smuggler Union Restaurant and Brewery and Stronghouse Brewpub for a great range of craft beers, Western-themed Last Dollar Saloon for their massive range of beers and awesome margaritas.

View from Telluride Power House

2. Crested Butte

While Telluride may be my favorite, Crested Butte is a very very close second, and absolutely one of the best mountain towns in Colorado.

Downtown Crested Butte, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Like Telluride, Crested Butte is a vibrant and pretty mountain town that is surrounded by so much natural beauty, with some of the best hiking and skiing in the state on its doorstep.

One of the best backpacking trips I have ever done was the West Maroon and East Maroon passes from Aspen to Crested Butte and back, and the wildflower hikes around Crested Butte in mid-summer are insanely pretty.

Wildflowers on a hike near Crested Butte - one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Also like Telluride, Crested Butte is absolutely stunning in fall and there are three mountain passes you can drive to drool over the fall colors – Kebler Pass, Ohio Pass, and Cottonwood Pass.

Nearby Gothic Ghost Town is also worth checking out. Originally a silver mining town it now has a second life as a facility for the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Crested Butte hiking on a Colorado Road Trip

Where to Stay in Crested Butte: There are a number of developed campgrounds, as well as lots of dispersed free camping on National Forest land around Crested Butte. Another great low-budget option is the Crested Butte Hostel which has dorms, twin, and double rooms. 

For vacation rentals, stay at The Alley House or this private guesthouse on Elk, both are in downtown Crested Butte. For hotels, stay at the cozy European-style Cristiana Guesthaus, or the Nordic Inn which has a hot tub and is by Crested Butte Ski Resort.

Butte Bagels in Crested Butte

Where to Eat in Crested Butte: McGill’s for their hearty breakfasts, Secret Stash for perfect pizza in a cool boho setting, awesome pitas at a great price from Pitas in Paradise, comforting pub food from Public House, delicious Indian dishes from Sherpa Cafe, and awesome bagels from Butte Bagels.

Where to Drink in Crested Butte: Craft cocktails in a romantic setting at The Dogwood, and local beer at The Eldo.

3. Silverton

Silverton feels like a real Wild West frontier town with unpaved streets and a ton of historic buildings – with a lot that have been only minimally restored. It definitely doesn’t have the polished look of Telluride or Crested Butte, but that’s what I love about it.

Silverton is one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

You can feel the history in Silverton just by walking the streets, but if you want to find out more about this historic mining town, make sure to visit the San Juan County Historical Museum.

The museum has lots of info about the founding of the town and mining history in the area, and part of it is housed in the old county jail.

Museum in Silverton, a top Colorado Mountain Town

Like most mountain towns in Colorado, there are a number of scenic hiking trails nearby and it’s a great base if you want to get out into the wilderness. Silverton is also home to a great ski area for advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders.

In the fall, the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray is one of the most scenic fall drives in the country.

Fall colors on the Million Dollar Highway near Silverton

Where to Stay in Silverton: For camping, stay at Molas Lake Campground or Silverton Lakes RV Resort. For hotels, stay at historic Teller House or the stately Grand Imperial Hotel. For vacation rentals, stay at Stellar House in downtown Silverton, or this unique tiny house which is also downtown.

Where to Eat in Silverton: Handlebars Food and Saloon for their extensive menu and western decor, Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory for decadent funnel cakes, and Eureka Station for pasties.

Where to Drink in Silverton: The Bent Elbow for their old-timey bar, Golden Block Brewery for local brews.

4. Ouray

Ouray is another gorgeous Colorado mountain town that is so picture-perfect it is known as the Switzerland of America. 

Ouray in Colorado

Like Telluride and Crested Butte, Ouray is very polished with gorgeous restored historic buildings, large hanging baskets of colorful flowers lining the main street, upscale restaurants, and epic mountain views.

If you can drag yourself away from the pretty main street, you should definitely visit one of the awesome hot springs in Ouray. My favorite is the Wiesbaden Hot Springs and Vapor Cave which is a unique experience with an outdoor hot pool, and a steamy underground cave with a hot waterfall and a small hot pool.

Downtown Ouray, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado Ouray, one of the most beautiful Colorado mountain towns

Orvis Hot Springs is another great local hot springs set in a lovely garden with a few outdoor pools, as well as private indoor pools which are included in the price. It is clothing optional.

Make sure you hit the hiking trails if you are there in summer or fall. My favorite nearby trail is the Blue Lakes trail near the town of Ridgway to the north. This eight-mile out-and-back hike is moderate to difficult but so worth it to see the otherworldly blue of these lakes!

Blue Lake near Ouray, CO

Ouray definitely deserves to be near the top of the list of best Colorado mountain towns.

Where to Stay in Ouray: Amphitheater Campground if you are camping, or Wiesbaden Hot Springs and Lodgings for free entry to the fabulous hot springs and vapor cave. The historic Imogene Hotel, and cozy Timber Ridge Lodge are great choices too.

For vacation rentals, this renovated historic home in the heart of downtown, and this modern studio apartment on the river.

Where to Eat in Ouray: Brickhouse 737 for eclectic American cuisine and cocktails, Colorado Boy Southwest Pub for killer Southwestern dishes, and artisan pizza.

Where to Drink in Ouray: Don’t miss Ouray Brewery for award-winning beers on their rooftop with mountain views.

5. Buena Vista

Another favorite of mine, Buena Vista has so many things going for it – it’s a beautiful little town with great places to eat and drink, there’s so much to do there if you love outdoor adventures, and it’s only 2.5 hours from Denver so it’s convenient too.

Downtown Buena Vista, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

There are some great hikes right from town on the other side of the river, as well as alpine trails in the nearby Collegiate Peaks. If you want to bag a fourteener (a mountain over 14,000 feet) this is the place to do it – there are 12 within easy driving distance of Buena Vista!

After hiking or skiing if you are visiting in winter, hit up one of the two hot springs nearby. I love Cottonwood Hot Springs, but Mount Princeton Hot Springs is another popular option.

There are a few ghost towns close to Buena Vista that are definitely worth checking out, especially St Elmo which is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the American West, as well as the Clear Creek Canyon ghost towns – Vicksburg and Winfield. 

St Elmo Ghost Town in Colorado

Buena Vista is also one of the best places in the country to go white water rafting – I did a rafting trip through Browns Canyon National Monument last summer and I loved it!

And don’t miss spending time in the town itself, it’s a lovely place to shop and just wander around. 

Downtown Buena Vista, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Where to Stay in Buena Vista: Stay at Cottonwood Hot Springs Lodging which has rooms, cabins, dorms, and camping – all with free hot springs access, Five Peaks cabin with mountain views, or the luxurious Surf Hotel & Chateau.

For vacation rentals, stay in this cute one-bedroom in the trendy South Main district, or this sweet cabin in the heart of BV.

Where to Eat in Buena Vista: The Buena Viking Food Truck is the number one spot to eat in Buena Vista and is very popular with locals and visitors for its amazing burgers and sides. Alternatively, try the best pizza in town in the casual Elkhorn Pizzeria, or go for classic American and live music at The Lariat.

Where to Drink in Buena Vista: The Lariat for drinks and live music, Deerhammer Distillery for locally-made whiskey, and Eddyline Brewery for a great selection of their own local brews.

6. Leadville

Leadville is similar to Silverton in that it has an appealing rough and readiness to it, with a largely unrestored downtown and bags of mining history.

It sits at over 10,000 feet above sea level and the winters here are especially harsh. Summer is glorious though.

Downtown Leadville, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

The colorful historic buildings on Leadville’s main street have been somewhat restored, but this Colorado Mountain Town still retains a real frontier vibe.

There are a number of historic sites and attractions that are definitely worth visiting if you are interested in the history of Leadville, including the Matchless Mine and Baby Doe’s Cabin, The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin.

Baby Doe's cabin in Leadville, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

For Old West memorabilia, don’t miss the cavernous antique wonderland that is Western Hardware Antique, and have a drink at the supposedly haunted Silver Dollar Saloon.

There are lots of hikes around Leadville too – you can hike to the summit of the second-highest peak in the lower 48 states of the U.S. – Mount Elbert, or do a more gentle hike to one of the beautiful lakes around Leadville, like Turquoise Lake or Timberline Lake.

Hiking Mount Elbert near Leadville, Colorado

Where to Stay in Leadville: For camping, stay at the Molly Brown Campground by Turquoise Lake, or Elbert Creek Campground if you are looking at summiting Mount Elbert. Another great budget option is to rent an ensuite room at The Mountain Hideaway Lodge, this is where we stay when we are in Leadville and we love the jacuzzi and sauna, the shared kitchen, and how close it is to town.

Good hotel options include the cozy Inn the Clouds Hostel & Inn and The Abbey. For vacation rentals, stay in one of Leadville’s tiny houses – my top picks are this onethis one, and this one

Where to Eat in Leadville: High Mountain Pies for decent pizza, or Treeline Kitchen for classic American plates and inventive cocktails in a cozy environment.

Where to Drink in Leadville: The Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon for drinks in a haunted Old West saloon, Two Mile Brewing Company for awesome local craft beer.

7. Salida

Salida is a beautiful Colorado mountain town that is popular with Coloradans but has somehow stayed relatively under the radar to out-of-state visitors.

Downtown Salida, Colorado

It is home to Colorado’s largest National Historic District with 136 preserved buildings that have a 19th-century mining past. Make sure to take a stroll along the pretty main street to truly appreciate the beauty and history of this special town.

One of the best selling points for Salida is its location on the Arkansas River. This wild river calms its flow through town, making it the perfect place for a summer dip, tubing, or kayaking. Just out of town, there is world-class white water rafting.

Kayakers on the river in Salida, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

If you are into mountain biking, Salida is home to many excellent biking trails, and like its neighbor Buena Vista, there are a number of fourteeners you can hike nearby if you feel like a challenge, as well as lots of easier trails in the Collegiate Peaks and near town.

Hiking near Salida, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

Where to Stay in Salida: Camp at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, or stay at the homey The Salida Inn and Hostel, the retro American Classic Inn, or the newly remodeled Silver Ridge Lodge. For vacation rentals, stay at cute Tenderfoot Cottage or turn-of-the-century Dvora’s Guest House, both downtown.

Where to Eat in Salida: Amicas Pizza Microbrew for wood-fired pizzas and beer brewed onsite, Tacos El Tapatio for authentic Mexican food, Brown Dog Coffee Company for good coffee and breakfast burritos in cozy surrounds.

Where to Drink in Salida: Try local craft beer at Soulcraft Brewing, Tres Litros Beer Company, and Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub. The Biker & The Baker has great wine and cocktails.

8. Manitou Springs

Manitou Springs may only be a short drive from Colorado Springs but it couldn’t be more different. This pretty Colorado mountain town has a hippie vibe, and it’s a great place to shop with a number of excellent small boutiques and stores.

Downtown Manitou Springs, a hippie Colorado mountain town

Manitou Springs was famous in the past for its natural healing waters, and you will still find eight mineral water fountains around town that you can drink out of for free. The naturally carbonated water is delicious! 

You can also soak in Manitou’s healing mineral water at SunWater Spa, which has nine soaking tubs with gorgeous mountain views. There is also a sauna, and you can book a massage or facial.

Downtown Manitou Springs, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado Spring water fountain in Manitou Springs, Colorado

There are so many things to do nearby including hiking amongst the impressive red rock formations at Garden of the Gods, drive, hike or take a shuttle to the top of America’s Mountain – Pikes Peak, challenge yourself with a hike up the super steep Manitou Incline, play skee ball and other arcade games at the Penny Arcade, and visit the restored Manitou Cliff Dwellings – dating to 1200 AD. 

Don’t miss this cool little Colorado mountain town!

Manitou Cliff Dwellings in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Where to Stay in Manitou Springs: Stay at ColoRADo Adventure Hostel in nearby Colorado Springs, or camp at Pikes Peak RV Park.

For hotels, stay at Villa Motel which has a hot tub and seasonal pool, or the elegant Cliff House at Pikes Peak. For vacation rentals, this cozy cottage retreat, and this loft in a historic spa building are both downtown and great options.

Where to Eat in Manitou Springs: Ruffrano’s Hell’s Kitchen for delicious pizza by the slice, Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant for a fine-dining fondue experience, Adam’s Mountain Cafe for delicious vegetarian dishes, and homemade desserts.

Manitou Springs, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

Where to Drink in Manitou Springs: Manitou Brewing Company for craft beer and pub-style dishes in a relaxed setting. 

9. Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is another gorgeous Colorado mountain town and is a popular resort town in winter and summer. One of the main attractions in this vibrant town is Strawberry Park Hot Springs, one of the best hot springs in Colorado.

Spring in downtown Steamboat Springs, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado Downtown Steamboat Springs, one of the most beautiful Colorado Mountain Towns

Strawberry Park Hot Springs has a real fairytale vibe to it, and there are numerous pools of different temperatures set along the river. It is the perfect balance of developed and primitive and you could easily spend a whole day or evening just soaking and relaxing.

For activities that are a bit more adventurous, go skiing or snowboarding in Steamboat’s famed Champagne Powder in winter, and in summer and fall hit one of the hiking trails in the area – Fish Creek Falls is one of the most popular. 

If you are a keen fisherman then Steamboat is a great fishing location too.

Visit Strawberry Hot Springs on your Colorado Road Trip

Where to Stay in Steamboat Springs: Stay at Strawberry Hot Springs in a caboose, a cabin, or camp. For hotels, stay at the cozy Chalet Val d’Isere Bed & Breakfast, or the luxurious log cabin vibed The Steamboat Grand.

For vacation rentals, stay in this quaint and luxurious studio, or this downtown two-bedroom condo with balcony.

Where to Eat in Steamboat Springs: Winona’s for their famous giant cinnamon rolls and big breakfasts, Mountain Tap Brewery for great local beer and wood-fired pizza, and Creekside Cafe for their happy hour menu and their creekside patio.

Where to Drink in Steamboat Springs: Storm Peak Brewing Company for inventive craft beer, and The Barley Tap and Tavern for local beer and spirits.

10. Estes Park

It may be touristy but there is still a lot to love about Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park. The town is surrounded by classic Rocky Mountain scenery and don’t be surprised if you see elk wandering around town here – it happens all the time.

Downtown Estes Park, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

If you are looking for Colorado souvenirs, then Estes Park is the place to get them – you can find some surprisingly good options at the tourist shops here and there are a number of art galleries in town too. Don’t miss Trendz at the Park – I have spent so much money here over the years!

If you are a Stephen King fan, make sure to visit the infamous Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for The Shining, and reputed to be haunted. To avoid the entrance fee, park your car in town and walk up there to look around for free. 

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, an awesome Colorado Mountain Town

But the main attraction is nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, and you should plan to spend at least two days there if you can. My favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park are the Gem Lake trail, Sky Pond trail, and Emerald Lake via Dream Lake. 

A good way to spend a rainy day is to catch a movie at the historic Park Theatre, the oldest theater west of the Mississippi.

Downtown Estes Park - one of the mountain towns in Colorado

Where to Stay in Estes Park: An excellent budget option is the Estes Park Adventure Hostel which offers dorm accommodation and a communal kitchen right by town. Treat yourself to a spooky stay at The Stanley Hotel. The Blue Door Inn is another great hotel option with wood-paneled rooms with a log cabin vibe. For vacation rentals, stay in this charming rustic studio cabin, or this cozy downtown one-bedroom loft.

Alternatively, camp at one of the campgrounds on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Park or Glacier Basin. 

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Where to Eat in Estes Park: For good BBQ, try Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Brew, have a big pre-hike breakfast at Big Horn Restaurant, and have some beers and pub food at The Wapiti Colorado Pub.

Where to Drink in Estes Park: Enjoy some local craft beers at Rock Cut Brewing Co. and Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co.

11. Aspen

Aspen is a town of many lives. It started life as a mining town, then it became a hedonistic hippie town, before becoming its current iteration – a ritzy mountain resort with some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

Downtown Aspen, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado Aspens in Aspen, Colorado

While Aspen may now be super pricy and full of upscale boutiques and restaurants, it is still a very beautiful Colorado mountain town with restored historic buildings, lots of green spaces, and colorful flower planters adorning lamp posts and window boxes around town.

Aspen pedestrian street

It is a very popular ski resort in winter, and in summer there are numerous hikes, biking trails, and rock climbing routes near town.

In summer and fall, make sure to visit nearby Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness, which is one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the whole country. There are a number of hiking trails from short and easy trails through to multi-day backpacking routes – I did one from Aspen to Crested Butte and back and LOVED it.

Hiking at Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado

If you are visiting in summer or fall, you should definitely drive over scenic Independence Pass, the highest paved pass in North America, making sure to stop at the Continental Divide Viewpoint and Independence Ghost Town.

The beauty of Aspen and all the activities there definitely make it one of the best mountain towns in Colorado.

Independence Ghost Town near Aspen, Colorado

Where to Stay in Aspen: Camp at Difficult Camping Ground or Silver Queen Campground on the way to Maroon Bells.

For hotels, stay at The Gant, a cozy ski resort, or Tyrolean Lodge, a family-owned lodge right on Main Street. For vacation rentals, stay at this newly remodeled studio condo or this similar studio – both in the heart of Aspen.

Where to Eat in Aspen: White House Tavern for premium sandwiches and craft cocktails in a historic miner’s cottage, Grateful Deli for lovers of sandwiches, and The Grateful Dead.

Aspen in fall, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Where to Drink in Aspen: Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar for elevated cocktails, or Aspen Brewing Co for local craft beer and pizza.

12. Creede

Tucked away on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway between Gunnison and South Fork is the historic Colorado mountain town of Creede.

It may be out of the way but in that lies its charm, because Creede is one of the most obscure mountain towns in Colorado and you won’t see a lot of other tourists there.

Downtown Creede, one of the most obscure mountain towns in Colorado

Creede is home to some beautiful historic buildings and a ton of Old West history and has a dramatic setting in a volcanic caldera, surrounded by sheer cliffs.

This interesting little town has a thriving arts scene and there are numerous galleries around town. There is even a theater that puts on plays every summer. 

Downtown Creede in Colorado's mountains Shops in Creede, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Near town, there are numerous hiking trails, including five fourteeners, and over 20 thirteeners, as well as mountain biking, fishing, and off-road trails for ATVs and 4WDs.

Creede really does have something for everyone, and you should definitely put this hidden gem on your Colorado Itinerary.

Where to Stay in Creede: Camp at Mountain Views at Rivers Edge RV Park or Marshall Park Campground. For vacation rentals, this pet-friendly house or this cozy downtown bungalow.

Where to Eat in Creede: Kip’s Grill for good Mexican food and burgers, Tommyknocker Tavern for delicious BBQ.

Where to Drink in CreedeSquare Peg Brewerks for delicious local brews.

13. Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is a historic mining town where the historic buildings now house casinos – like a mini Vegas in Colorado’s mountains!

Historic Cripple Creek in Colorado

The town’s heyday was from 1890-1910 when it was known as the World’s Greatest Gold Camp. By the 1940s, gold production was down to a fraction of what it once was, and in 1990 the nearly dead town only had 600 residents left – and then in came the casinos.

Old mine in Cripple Creek, one of the best Colorado mountain towns

Whether you are a gambler or not, there is no doubt that the casinos revived this town and it is now a fun place to visit to do a bit of gambling, explore the gold-mining history at the accessible gold mine ruins around town, and to take a ride on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Don’t miss nearby Victor too, another old Gold-Mining Town that is full of character.

Ride the Cripple Creek Railway

Where to Stay in Cripple Creek: Camp at the Cripple Creek Travel Park or at Cripple Creek KOA. For hotels, stay at the centrally located Century Casino and Hotel or the historic Victor Hotel in nearby Victor.

For vacation rentals, this cute cabin close to downtown Cripple Creek, or this sunny cottage with incredible views are great choices.

Where to Eat and Drink in Cripple Creek: Maggie’s for standard American fare in an old-fashioned setting, Home Cafe in Bronco Billy’s Casino for comfort food including burgers and fried chicken.

14. Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs is a beautiful riverside Colorado mountain town that is famous for its hot springs. Glenwood Hot Springs has been operating for over 130 years and is home to the world’s largest hot springs pool.

Downtown Glenwood Springs, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

While Glenwood Hot Springs is nice, I actually prefer another hot springs complex in Glenwood Springs – Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

There is a range of peaceful hot springs pools of different temperatures scattered across a hillside overlooking the river, and a day or evening spent in this scenic and calming spot is absolute heaven.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood SpringsGlenwood Springs Brewpub

Another big Glenwood Springs attraction is the hike to Hanging Lake, arguably the most famous hike in Colorado. You have to obtain a permit to hike to Hanging Lake, check here for up-to-date information about permits.

Luckily there are lots of other hikes in the area too, including the short hike to Doc Holliday’s grave, and the Roaring Fork River trail – both of which you can begin right in town. You should also bike or hike through beautiful Glenwood Canyon on the rec path.

Don’t miss just wandering around town in Glenwood Springs too – it’s a beautiful place with lots of historic buildings. I love the area down by the river and there are some great restaurants and bars there.

Visit Hanging Lake from Glenwood Springs, a top Colorado mountain town

Where to Stay in Glenwood Springs: Camp at Ami’s Acres Campground close to town, or stay at the quirky bohemian Glenwood Springs Hostel.

For hotels, stay at the centrally located and stately Hotel Denver, or at the cozy European-style Starlight Lodge. For vacation rentals, stay at Casa Del Sol with mountain views, or this modern one-bedroom in downtown Glenwood Springs.

Where to Eat in Glenwood Springs: Smoke Modern BBQ for delicious upscale BBQ, Grind for a wide range of excellent burgers, and 19th Street Diner for classic diner eats.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs at night

Where to Drink in Glenwood Springs: Casey Brewing for excellent craft beer – I especially love their sours, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub is a cozy spot for a local craft beer (they also have very good food), and Doc Holliday’s Saloon – a historic western-themed bar.

15. Breckenridge

Breckenridge, or Breck as it is lovingly known, is one of Colorado’s top ski resort towns, and it tends to attract a younger crowd who are out to have fun. There are over 100 bars and restaurants in Breck and it has a lively buzz like no other Colorado Mountain Town.

Downtown Breckenridge, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

Winter may be peak season, but summer is a great time to visit Breck too, with a host of fun activities including world-class mountain biking, hiking, scenic drives, summer dog sledding, zip-lining, paddle-boarding, and river rafting.

Breck is a beautiful town no matter what time of year you visit, although fall is my favorite when the aspens are in their full golden glory.

Fall colors on a hike near Breckenridge, one of the best Colorado Mountain Towns

If you do visit in the fall, don’t miss driving at least some of Boreas Pass, and doing some of the fall hikes in the area including Aspen Alley for golden aspens and mining history.

And whatever time of year you are visiting, make sure to visit Isak Heartstone, the famous Breckenridge troll!

Where to Stay in Breckenridge: Stay at the luxurious Bivvi Boutique Hostel or camp at nearby Selkirk Campground, a basic campground 13 miles southeast of Breck.

For hotels, great options include Gravity Haus which offers contemporary design rooms, and Mountain Thunder Lodge, a cozy Ski Lodge with an onsite pool, gym, and hot tub. For vacation rentals, stay at Peak 9 studio condo or this cute studio – both in downtown Breck.

Breckenridge Troll Hiking near Breck in Colorado

Where to Eat in Breckenridge: Amazing Grace for health-focused meals in a homey environment, and comfort food and beers on the sun-soaked patio at The Canteen Tap House & Tavern.

Where to Drink in Breckenridge: Breckenridge Brewery & Pub for inventive local beer and pub food, Broken Compass Brewery for their awesome range of craft beers – I love the Ginger Pale Ale and Coconut Porter.


You may be wondering why Vail wasn’t on this list. Honestly, I don’t think it compares to these other Colorado mountain towns because it’s not really a real town in my opinion – it’s a ski resort and was built for that purpose in the 1970s, so it doesn’t have the mining history of the other towns on this list.

Downtown Vail, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

But…it’s still fun to visit and the scenery around Vail is breathtaking so I thought I would add it as a bonus addition to the list.

Vail was modeled to look like a European Ski Resort, and it really does feel like you are walking around in a village in the mountains of Austria or Switzerland – well, a kinda Disneyfied version of one.

Downtown Vail, Colorado

It boasts some of the most diverse skiing in the country and is a very popular ski resort with excellent après ski.

In summer, there are numerous hiking trails that are worth doing nearby, including Booth Falls and Upper Piney River Falls. If you are looking for something gentle but scenic, the riverside trail that cuts through town is a great option – it’s a beautiful place to walk in winter too.

Bridge in over the river in Vail, one of the best mountain towns in Colorado

Other Vail summer activities include horse riding, climbing, tubing, zip-lining, hiking with alpacas, and riding an alpine coaster. And don’t miss the pretty Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Where to Stay in Vail: For hostel accommodation, stay at The Bunkhouse Hostel in nearby Minturn, or camp at Gore Creek Campground. For hotels, stay at the luxury riverside Sitzmark Lodge, or the popular European-style Tivoli Lodge.

For vacation rentals, stay in the Birch luxury studio, or the Streamside Douglas one-bedroom villa.

Betty Ford Alpine Garden in Vail, Colorado

Where to Eat in Vail: Up the Creek for relaxed dining by the river, Pazzo’s Pizzeria for affordable and delicious pizza, Yeti’s Grind for coffee and breakfast burritos, Swiss Chalet Restaurant for fondue and Swiss eats.

Where to Drink in Vail: Vail Brewing Company for local craft beer, Shakedown Bar for drinks and live music.

So that’s my list of the Best Colorado Mountain Towns, all of which I have visited myself and love dearly. Which one do you think will be your favorite?

Rico, Colorado

If you liked this – check out some of my other Colorado posts:


The Best Colorado Mountain Towns to Visit Best Mountain Towns in Colorado to Visit Anytime 15 Best Colorado Mountain Towns

12 Comments on 15 Best Colorado Mountain Towns To Visit Anytime

  1. The Outlaw Restaurant in Ouray was outstanding. Best steaks in a high country location. Been twice. Once in 1980 something and more recently in 2018.

  2. wow,Colorado girl! Unless you are Native American you came from somewhere else too. This is America and you don’t own Colorado. I will visit there and move if I choose to.

  3. Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading this and hearing your perspective especially since you’re so familiar with the state. I understand why you only wrote about 15 towns but I selfishly wish you included the 30+ you originally had lol! This was very informative and helpful as I will be visiting CO in July and am looking to potentially move out here so I really appreciate all your knowledge and guidance! I look forward to reading more of your work! Safe and happy travels to you!

    • Colorado natives like me are are tired of all the zillions of articles you out-of-staters post all the time about COLORADO! The more you guys post your damn articles the more wannabes come here and want to move here. Stfu!!!!!! Stop trying get attention and stfu!!!

      • Wow – calm down. People want to visit and move to beautiful places – that is just how it is. Also, I actually do live in Colorado and have for years (and I don’t know who “you guys” is – I don’t know everyone that posts articles about Colorado, we aren’t some kind of gang or anything) People are going to visit Colorado whether you like it or not.

  4. Amazing read. So informative, beautiful photography. So many places to visit.
    A great travel blog.
    Thankyou for sharing your information so we all
    have the best ideas where to travel.

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