The Colorado Rockies are full of quaint small towns and villages that are a delight to visit. Every town in the area has beautiful views, abundant outdoor activities, and a rich frontier history. Each town we’ve featured is an all-season haven with great food, friendly people, plenty of outdoor activities, and some cultural or historical amenities that make them some of the best small towns to visit in the Colorado Rockies.
Best Small Towns to visit in the Colorado Rockies
Founded by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad company in 1880, the railway town of Durango soon became famous for its narrow-gauge railroad that transported passengers and precious metals and offered beautiful views of the Rockies. The railway still runs year-round — round trip is nine hours, with a two-hour stop in Silverton. The views from the passenger cars are still spectacular. Lots of other stuff goes on in Durango, including the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in October, the Snowdown festival featuring all kinds of frivolities in February, and The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in May. Durango also has a burgeoning circus arts community, complete with homegrown circus shows and classes.
Dubbed the Two-Mile-High City because of its extreme altitude, historical Leadville was a booming silver town in the 1890s. Much of its Victorian heritage is still on display in the architecture and the museums, including a restored Victorian opera house that’s still in operation, the National Museum of Mining and Hall of Fame, a historic fish hatchery, and the Temple Israel Frontier Synagogue Museum. In its heyday, Leadville’s synagogue served over 300 area citizens.
A quaint village nestled in a valley and surrounded by a multitude of mountain peaks over 14,000 feet in height, Silverthorne is convenient to all that Colorado has to offer. With its proximity to some of the top skiing areas in the world, as well as access to the Blue River for fishing, kayaking, tubing, and other activities, it’s no wonder that the town dubs itself the world’s most beautiful playground. Also of note is the brand new Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, a 16,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2017. They produce year-round theater, music, and other events. There are plenty of great bed-and-breakfasts and hotels to choose from during your visit, located in and around beautiful Silverthorne.
If you are looking to get away from it all, the tiny town of Crestone might be the right place for you. It’s in a very remote location, nestled next to the Rio Grande National Forest and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to hike uncrowded trails, see wild flora and fauna, and meditate on the beauty of nature. Several Zen and spiritual retreats have located here for just that reason, including the Spiritual Life Institute (a Carmelite monastery), the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, and Sacred Passage. Lodging is limited, so make sure to book well in advance.
Any of these towns would make a perfect getaway vacation to one of the most beautiful areas in America.