No trip to Colorado is complete without checking out at least one of our charming mountain towns. With too many to choose from on a short visit, we’ve curated a list of standout towns that capture the essence of Colorado's rich history, outdoor adventure, and local culture. These towns, nearly all of which we explore on our many tours, have earned their spot on our list for their exceptional character and diverse offerings.
Whether you're a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking a tranquil mountain escape, join us as we explore some of the most uniquely charming and Western-hearted towns in the Centennial State.
Breckenridge: Where Alpine Charm Meets Adventure
Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, Breckenridge is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Originally a gold-mining town in the 19th century, its well-preserved Victorian architecture and historic Main Street transport visitors back in time. Today, Breckenridge is renowned for its world-class skiing, boasting over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain. Beyond the slopes, explore the eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and a vibrant arts scene. Don't miss the Breckenridge Distillery for a taste of award-winning spirits or pop into a brew pub for a mountain beverage. Whether you're carving through powder or strolling down Main Street, Breckenridge seamlessly blends the old and the new.
Spend a wintry day doing everything Breck on our Breckenridge Mountain Explorer!
Idaho Springs: Where the Gold Rush Began
Just a short drive from Denver, Idaho Springs offers a perfect blend of history and outdoor adventure. Known for its gold rush roots, the Argo Mill and Tunnel showcase the town's mining heritage. Take a scenic drive along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway for breathtaking views of the Rockies. For a unique experience, try the natural hot springs at Indian Hot Springs or grab a pint at one of the local breweries. With a laid-back vibe and proximity to the mountains, Idaho Springs is the ideal getaway for those seeking a taste of Colorado's past and present.
Explore Idaho Springs on our Brews ‘N Views tour year-round or on our Mt. Blue Sky tour during the summer months!
Estes Park: Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park
Surrounded by the stunning beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a mecca for nature lovers. Home to the historic Stanley Hotel, famously known for inspiring Stephen King's "The Shining," the town offers a mix of outdoor adventure and cultural exploration. Explore the charming downtown filled with shops, galleries, and restaurants. With abundant wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and a vibrant arts scene, Estes Park beckons visitors to explore the wonders of the Rockies.
Boulder: Where Adventure Meets Innovation
Nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Flatirons, Boulder is a Colorado gem that seamlessly blends outdoor adventure with a vibrant cultural scene. Known for its innovative spirit, this town is home to the University of Colorado Boulder and a community that embraces sustainability and outdoor pursuits. Explore the Pearl Street Mall, a lively pedestrian street lined with shops and eateries. Hike the iconic Flatirons trails or take a scenic drive up Flagstaff Mountain for panoramic views. Boulder's mix of academic energy, mountainous landscapes, and progressive vibes make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a dynamic Colorado experience.
Take a private, guided hike and enjoy Boulder’s amazing downtown with us!
Lyons: A Quaint Riverside Haven
Nestled at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain rivers, Lyons exudes a small-town charm that captivates all who visit. Known as the "Double Gateway to the Rockies," the town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering access to hiking, biking, and fishing. Lyons, home to a rich mining history and a variety of small-town shops and cafes, provides a perfect base for exploration while maintaining a tranquil ambiance that sets it apart from larger mountain towns.
Salida: Artistic Vibes in a Riverside Paradise
Nestled along the Arkansas River, Salida is a hidden gem blending outdoor adventure with a thriving arts scene. Renowned for its creative community, the town boasts numerous galleries, studios, and public art installations. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy rafting, hiking, and biking, with the stunning Collegiate Peaks as a backdrop. The historic downtown, with its vibrant shops and restaurants, provides the perfect setting for window shopping and a leisurely stroll. Salida's unique blend of art, history, and natural beauty makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic Colorado experience.
Summertime adventure seekers: come whitewater rafting with us on the Arkansas River in Salida! Plus, come next year, we’ll offer a wide variety of other ways to see Salida. More info to come.
Evergreen: Serenity in the Shadow of the Rockies
Tucked away in the foothills just outside Denver, Evergreen offers a serene escape surrounded by towering pine trees and scenic landscapes. With its paddleboats and fishing opportunities, Evergreen Lake is a focal point for outdoor recreation. The downtown area, filled with boutique shops, local eateries, and exceptional breweries, exudes a relaxed mountain town atmosphere. Explore nearby trails like Three Sisters Park for stunning views of the Rockies. Between its close proximity to Denver and laid-back vibe, Evergreen is a perfect retreat for those seeking a peaceful mountain getaway.
Enjoy a local craft beer with lakeside views in Evergreen on our Brews ‘N Views tour!
Morrison: Red Rocks and Rustic Charm
Known for its iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison is a small town with a big reputation. Just a short drive from Denver, it's a must-visit for music lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, surrounded by towering red sandstone formations, hosts concerts and events against a backdrop of breathtaking views. Explore the quaint downtown with its eclectic shops and eateries, offering a unique blend of rustic charm and modern flair. Whether you're hiking the nearby trails or catching a concert under the stars, Morrison promises an unforgettable experience.
We love Red Rocks, and we’ll take you there on our Half Day Rocky Mountain Escape and Denver, Red Rocks, and Beyond tours, and as a quick stop on the Breckenridge Mountain Explorer or Mt. Blue Sky Tour. On Brews ‘N Views, we’ll also take you to the best brewery in town.
Manitou Springs: A Quirky Oasis at the Foot of Pikes Peak
In the shadow of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs is a quirky town with a rich history and a vibrant arts scene. Known for its natural mineral springs, visitors can take a sip from the historic Manitou Springs Penny Arcade for a taste of the town's unique waters. Explore the eclectic shops along Manitou Avenue or go to the top of Pikes Peak on the highest paved road in North America for panoramic views. The historic Manitou Incline offers a challenging hike with rewarding vistas. With its colorful personality and proximity to natural wonders, Manitou Springs is a must-visit for those seeking a mix of adventure and eccentricity.
Don’t miss Manitou Springs! In the summer, come with us up the famous Cog Railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. In the winter, we’ll drive you to the top on a private tour for the same exceptional views.
While these towns didn't make our top picks, they certainly deserve an honorable mention, and for those seeking a diverse Colorado experience, they are well worth exploring.
Durango: Old West Charm in the San Juan Mountains
Durango invites you to step into the enchanting world of the Old West. Stroll along the Western-style storefronts of the charming downtown and enjoy the Animas River Trail. Mesa Verde National Park showcases ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings, adding to Durango's allure with its rich history, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation.
Crested Butte: Wildflowers and Skiing Paradise
Crested Butte, the Wildflower Capital of Colorado, captivates visitors with vibrant blooms and world-class skiing. In summer, explore the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and witness a kaleidoscope of colors. In winter, the town transforms into a skiing paradise with pristine slopes and a charming historic district.
Steamboat Springs: Skiing and Western Hospitality
Renowned for its world-class skiing and western hospitality, Steamboat Springs is a winter wonderland that captivates visitors year-round. Beyond the slopes, explore the charming downtown with its western-themed boutiques and eateries. Relax in the hot springs at Strawberry Park or take a scenic hot air balloon ride for panoramic views of the Yampa Valley.
Gunnison: Gateway to Outdoor Adventure
Surrounded by vast wilderness, Gunnison town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering access to the Gunnison National Forest and the breathtaking Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Enjoy world-class fishing in the Gunnison River or explore rugged landscapes on hiking and biking trails. Gunnison's Western charm is evident in its historic downtown and the unique Gunnison Pioneer Museum.
Leadville: High-Altitude Action
Perched at over 10,000 feet, Leadville, once a booming mining town, preserves its rich history with Victorian architecture and museums. Visit the National Mining Hall of Fame or take a ride on the scenic Leadville, Colorado, and Southern Railroad. Outdoor activities abound, with hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities in the surrounding wilderness.
As plan your next adventure, consider embarking on a journey with us to explore these exceptional towns that encapsulate the essence of Colorado. Our expertly curated tours will take you through the heart of the Rockies, providing an opportunity to savor the rich history, outdoor adventure, and local culture that make each town special. Come witness the breathtaking landscapes, experience the warm hospitality, and discover what makes Colorado truly exceptional.