Colorado is known for its historic mining towns, tall mountains, countless ski slopes, and endless hiking trails. It’s one of the best places to live if escaping to nature is a high priority of yours. The state boasts a rapid growth rate, the 7th highest in the United States, but even though people are quickly moving to this colorful state, there are many small towns you can call home that offer a quieter, slower lifestyle.
These are 10 of the best small towns in Colorado.
Manitou Springs tops our list not just because it’s a small town, but because it’s right next to a substantially larger city – Colorado Springs. With Manitou Springs, you can have a little bit of small town living and big city living. Manitou Springs is also home to one of Colorado’s most epic hikes.
Telluride is one of Colorado’s top small towns. It began as a mining town in the 1800s and has since boomed into a tourist area. People flock here in the winter for the winter spots and in the summer for events like the Telluride Bluegrass Music Festival. This former silver mining camp isn’t the cheapest place to live in the state by far. If you plan to stay here for any length of time, plan on a high cost of living.
Breckenridge is home to the most popular ski resort in Colorado and one of the most visited ones in North America. Like many of Colorado’s small towns, Breckenridge got its start as a mining town in the 1800s. If winter sports like skiing and snowboarding isn’t your thing, Breckenridge is home to nearly countless hiking trails. It really is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Ouray, Colorado is probably best known for its hot springs. Nicknamed the “Switzerland of America” for its high, alpine peaks, this little town is beyond beautiful. It has a bit of a famous past as well. Some scenes from the original True Grit film were filmed in Ouray.
Steamboat Springs is another popular skiing town. It’s also an excellent location for summer activities like white-water kayaking on the Yampa River. It’s also an amazing town for cyclists.
Trinidad is a small town located just a few miles from the border with New Mexico. It began as a settlement of Spanish and Mexican settlers, had a stint as a hippie commune in the 60s, and today is a thriving small town. It’s a great small town if you want to take part in Colorado’s ‘budding’ cannabis counterculture and industry. The town features more than 23 cannabis dispensaries.
Silverton is aptly named. It was once a silver mining town. Today, Silverton is a high altitude skiiers dream. Silverton is a relaxed town, like many of the others on this list. In the summer, residents and visitors can enjoy tons of hiking trails. There are a few waterfalls in the area you can hike to as well.
If you like any and every outdoor activity, Crested Butte is the town for you. Once a mining town, today it is a regular Mecca for nature lovers. Rock climbing, fishing, kayaking, hiking – Crested Butte has it all. Crested Butte also claims to have been the location where mountain biking was invented, but that’s a bit difficult to confirm!
Vail is home to Colorado’s largest ski mountain and resort. It is surrounded by alpine mountains and has a very quaint “Vail Village” downtown area. Lots of shops to visit, art to see, and plenty of places to get your eat and drink on.
Most of the towns on this list are located in southern and western Colorado, but just northewest of Denver, you’ll find a gem of a town: Estes Park. It’s most notable feature is The Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book The Shining. It’s location near Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a great town for national park enthusiats.