One of the most charming places you can go in the United States of America, is Colorado, it is also one of the most scenic places too!
But, the small towns of Colorado have just that something special, that makes them more than worthy of a visit.
They have quaint shops, friendly people, and offer something of a break from the chaos and craziness that comes with busy city life.
Each and every quiet Colorado town has its own identity, but all share that wondrous sense of community that makes them so special to everyone.
If you need a vacation to get away from the chaos of city life, and want a location where you can slow down, take a break, and just enjoy the simple things in life, a small town in Colorado is sure to be just what the doctor ordered!
Even if you are not totally dead set on visiting the Centennial State, we have a few reasons why you should definitely consider a trip here. Take a look!
- Colorado is best known for extensively encompassing the Southern side of the Rocky Mountains.
- As a section of ‘Mountain West’, it is jam-packed with beautifully forested areas, verdancy, and a great amount of fauna and flora.
- Colorado small towns are popular with tourists, as these small settlements are typically very close to plenty of National Parks, canyons, mountain peaks and lakes!
- Many of the best small towns in Colorado will have the full strength of Western charm, as well as the relaxing touch that comes with a rural living experience.
All these factors and more, some of the best small towns will stand out to you in their natural beauty, history, and their proximity to many of the outdoorsy hotspots.
Are you a little more excited now? You should be! Let’s get to it! Time to check out the 20 most captivating small towns in Colorado. Which one will you visit?
The Top Small Towns In Colorado
Take a look at the list of towns we will look at today, if there are a few that speak to you, check out the info we have on them, and get booking your small town Colorado adventure as soon as possible!
- Manitou Springs
- Crested Butte
- Glenwood Springs
- Steamboat Springs
- Snowmass Village
- Lake City
- Estes Park
Aspen is one of the most famous Colorado small towns. It has worldwide renown thanks to the insanely beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.
It also tends to be a very popular spot for the rich and famous and celebrities too.
It is a very small town however, with less than 7,000 residents. In spite of how small this town is, there is no end to all the things you can do here.
There is plenty of nightlife, and with so many options for shopping, bars, museums, restaurants, and historical sites, it feels like it should be much bigger than it is!
However, Aspen is best known for its skiing areas. There are 4 skiing areas: Buttermilk, Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands.
Each of these will bring you across 5,000 acres of jaw-dropping terrain on which to ski, making it the ideal winter getaway location!
However, in the summer, there are still brilliant recreational options, you can go fly fishing, hiking, biking, and visit the Maroon Bells!
You can find Durango in La Plata County, where they have a population of around 20,000. It is a historical gem, and is the perfect location for fans of history and nature nerds.
It is also a great place to go exploring too. Hence, why it is one of the best locations in Colorado!
One of the typical tourist-favorite attractions is ‘Main Avenue’, it is well known for the Nationally Registered Historic District, and it boasts plenty of gorgeous historic architecture.
This area is found in the downtown area, where you can find plenty of galleries, businesses, restaurants, boutiques, entertainment, bars, and some historic hotels.
This is also the location of Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot.
People who are enthusiastic about the outdoors also tend to adore Durango, especially during the summer months, at this time there are plenty of activities you can indulge in, in the surrounding forestry and wilderness of the town.
The ‘Animas river’ has plenty of opportunity for fantastic whitewater rafting, and there are mountains over 14,000 ft. for you to ascend.
This small town is also the gateway to the ‘Mesa Verde National Park’ a historic location where you can see historical relics of indigenous people from 1500 years ago.
Manitou Springs is found at Pikes Peak’s base, it is a municipality of El Paso County, and there are only around 5,000 residents.
This small town was founded in 1872, as a health resort, and you can see why when you find their natural mineral springs, which is one of the primary attractions.
You will also find around 8 famous mineral springs found through the town, and even more in the local area.
Manitou Springs has plenty of history too, and with lots of old architecture and attractions, most of which you will find situated around the Historic District.
One of the most notable of these is Miramont castle.
This town is a great gateway to the Barr Trail, which takes you to Pikes Peak. This small Colorado town is believed to be a resort town, and it is nicknamed to be the Saratoga of the West which is a very well-earned title.
You should also check out the town’s tours to natural attractions, such as Rainbow Falls, and the cave of the Winds.
A place known by some people as the “Last Great Colorado Ski Town”, it is a little winter paradise that has made a real mark on the area, transforming from an old coal-mining town to a glamorous ski-enthusiast destination in only a century.
Similarly, outdoorsy enthusiasts are sure to love East River Valley and the incredible 750 miles worth of trails which are ready to explore in the local area.
At the right time of year, you can experience the wildflower season, which gives you an absolutely stunning view of the vibrant local flowers. This is actually what earned the area its reputation as being the wildflower capital of Colorado!
Oh, and the winter months are obviously completely ideal for snow related sport lovers.
This town also hosts many great festivals across the year, including a must-see Independence Day event!
Silverton was once a mining town, as you can probably guess from the name. It used to be used for silver mining. Resting 9,000 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains.
It is the only incorporated municipality which boasts a rich history that dates back all the way to 1860 when there were claims first made near the end of the Gold Rush.
You can get quite a bit of snow here in the winter months, which makes it a dreamland for winter activities, especially ice climbing and skiing.
However, in the summer, you get the chance to enjoy and explore the backcountry, so no matter when you visit, there is plenty to do.
The entire town of Silverton is considered to be a National Historic landmark District, and its formal name is actually Silverton Historic District. However, it was originally titled ‘Bakers Park’.
It has a stunning location, found in the Animas River valley.
You will be surrounded by tall, glamorous peaks, most of the peaks are very wondrous thirteeners, Storm Peak is one of these.
This small town is one of the most infamous getaways into the ‘backcountry’ of this State, which makes it a top choice for traveling to small Colorado towns.
Ouray is often seen as the ‘Switzerland of America’. It has around 1,000 residents, but it also has one of the most stunning views, 360-degrees of the San Juan Mountains.
The alpine environment here is an absolute must-see for anyone who is an adventurous and enthusiastic nature lover.
Stop off here to hike in Box Canyon Falls Park, or maybe take a trip to go ice climbing during the winter season at the Ouray Ice Park.
This small town was once very wealthy, as it housed many of the silver and gold mines in the area, and some of this wealth can be seen reflected in the historic brick-based buildings and the impressive architecture.
This town sits 8,000 above sea level, with so much to do. You can visit Victorian architecture, go on mine tours, visit breweries and enjoy many of their wonderful parks!
This town is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. There are incredible views; tall mountains, glacial lakes, sheer cliffs, tumbling falls, and so much more.
These are just some of the natural wonders to gaze upon in this beautiful Colorado town.
Telluride is found inside a box canyon that also hosts the Bridal Veil Falls at its head.
The life of this town started in 1878, when it was a mining town, digging zinc, silver, lead, copper, and gold telluride which actually resulted in the town getting its name.
It is actually referenced quite a lot in pop culture and songs, and is well known for ski resorts and winter slope action.
However, it also has a great selection of summer events too, with Hot Air Balloon festivals in June, and many other festivals through the season, the Telluride Historic Distract is a great place to see and enjoy in all seasons, and it is also a part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Exploring Telluride is very fulfilling, and since they have only 3,000 residents and one 80-acre downtown area which used to be used for silver mining, it is quaint, quiet, and a perfect getaway location.
Enjoy restaurants, boutiques, and gorgeous landscapes, or go for a drive or hike up to falls. You can even get on a free gondola ride to the Mountain Village, which is a companion town to Telluride!
Breckenridge has less than 5000 residents. It is a small Colorado town that completely captures the cliché feel of small town America.
It is exactly what you would picture from a small Christmas town in Colorado, well renowned for its skiing resort, which has been a very popular destination for avid skiers since the 60s.
It is called ‘Breck’ by the locals, and it is an amazing winter destination with glamorous holiday lights that get you in the mood for the season as soon as you arrive.
Would you know that Breckenridge is also the location of the International Snow Sculpture Championship as well!
Even though it is best known for its wintertime vibes, other seasons spent here can be equally fulfilling, especially for enthusiasts of the outdoors.
Here you will find amazing mountain biking trails, fly fishing areas, hiking trails, and areas full of gorgeous blooming wildflowers that you will love!
There are also countless rivers and lakes if you enjoy water sports such as boating or rafting.
In the summer, you can enjoy the festivals, such as the annual 4th of July parade, which is a great experience.
Whenever you visit, Breckenridge’s Main Street has many log and clapboard buildings, local shops, and plenty of restaurants to explore and enjoy too.
It was once a mining settlement, but now it is so much more!
Trinidad is one of Colorado’s early settlements, actually settled before the state was even actually a state at all! Now, its population is only just below 10,000.
It has a very convenient location, not far from the Santa Fe Trail, which is a very historic trading route, making it a bit more obvious as to why Spanish and Mexican settlers decided to build here and make Trinidad their home.
It is best known as a Weed Town, thanks to it being the location that houses an impressive 25 marijuana dispensaries. Obviously you can expect to experience quite the counterculture here.
History lovers are also sure to love it as well, as there is a brilliant Trinidad Museum.
Art lovers are also sure to enjoy it too, as there is much to appreciate in how the settlement is a Certified Colorado Creative District, with plenty of art galleries to enjoy!
10. Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs is very popular, it is also a mineral spring town, its resident count is below 10,000 also.
Found at the meeting of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River, it is a fairly populated town that offers lots of activity and is also known as the State’s ‘Land of Water’, to no real surprise.
This town is actually also rather well known as being famous as an arts environment, with a quaint small-town charm that tends to make it an attractive spot for drink, food, and culture.
This fact is very true downtown, where you will find local bookstores, quaint boutiques, thrift shops, and outdoor dining.
If you happen to be an outdoorsy kind of person, you could head to ‘Hanging Lake’ and enjoy paragliding, hiking on the boardwalk, fishing, or rafting if you fancy.
If you enjoy skiing however, check out Sunlight Mountain Resort for opportunities to ski. Oh, and if you want to really wind down and relax, discover one of the restorative hot springs.
Lyons is a small town that is found in Boulder County, it is very small, with only just over 2,000 residents.
You can find Lyons at the joining of the South And North St. Vrain Creek.
This town is a very scenic area to visit, but it is very often overlooked when it comes to small towns in Colorado, probably because of its very tiny population.
You can find this town near the Rocky Mountains National Park, where it earned the name of the ‘Double Gateway to the Rockies’.
On three of the sides of Lyons, you can see red sandstone rocks that tower high into the sky. These rocks are at least a good 260 million years old, maybe more.
Lyons is a very focused town, with their focus primarily being on the preservation of their history, with 15 of their sandstone buildings being on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you want to learn more about the history of the town, it is a good idea to visit the Lyons Redstone Museum.
If you want to do some recreational activities, Lyons is still a good place to do this, with plenty of diverse options.
You could go class 2 to 5 whitewater kayaking, fly-fishing, mountain biking, climbing and more.
There is also a thriving concert scene and many public art installations to enjoy as well!
You can find Fruita at the Grand Junction in Mesa County. It is on the larger side of small towns, with a population of 14,000.
It is a very beautiful small city and was born in 1894 when farmers started to settle on the land of the Ute people.
Fruita was originally a fruit-growing town, which explains the name, as unimaginative as it may be.
However, since this time, the town has moved onto new things and grown. It has impressively even earned awards for growth and development.
In Fruita there is certainly no shortage of things to do, with regular events and festivals, with plenty to do if you enjoy the great outdoors.
You can go biking, hiking, and rafting, or birding, horseback riding, or even go to a rodeo if that is to your taste.
Steamboat Springs is known as being one of the best winter skiing destinations, and it is also one of the larger small cities in Colorado, with 15,000 residents.
It is best recommended to travel here in the winter, as the Steamboat Ski Resort in the Park Range on Mount Werner has much to do, as does Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
This is a small city that has actually produced a great many more Winter Olympic athletes than any other American town! (Yes, even Aspen!)
This town is often called “The Boat” by the locals, and you can find it on the upper valley of the Yampa River.
The river offers great white-water experiences, as you could probably imagine.
However, cyclists also often enjoy this area, as this is a prime spot and is League of American Bicyclists-approved too!
Leadville is actually a statutory city, but is a small city, and a beautiful one at that. It serves as the seat of Lake County.
With a population of less than 3,000 residents, it is 10,152 ft above sea level, and is found at the headwaters of the Rocky Mountains’ Arkansas River.
It used to be a silver mining town, like a great many of these higher altitude towns, but now its legacy is held in the historic buildings and sites at the Leadville Historic District.
From this town you will be able to see a great many high peaks, with some that scale 14,000 ft. It is considered to be a hidden gem.
It holds two of Colorado’s tallest peaks here: Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, and it is also very close to the jaw-dropping Turquoise Lake.
The whole panorama of the location is incredible, with ponderosa pines and red-barked pines paired with this view you just cannot go wrong!
15. Snowmass Village
You can probably guess what this town is popular for.
Snowmass is actually only a 15-minute drive from Aspen, but it feels much further.
This town is yet another small Colorado town that is mostly dedicated to winter sports and skiing, and it is technically one part of the 4 mountains that make up the whole Aspen Snowmass.
One of the best places to ski in Snowmass Village is Limelight Snowmass. Only just over 2,000 people live in this location permanently, so it is an ideal place to relax, explore, and enjoy some peace.
If you enjoy the outdoors, consider also visiting in the summer to visit the Elk mountains for some biking and hiking.
This location is named after a man named John W. Gunnison. Gunnison was a surveyor for the transcontinental railway, and he was the first ever known explorer to venture in the local area.
The town started growing in the 1879s, and here you can actually learn more about the man who the town is named after, and how the town grew at the Gunnison Pioneer Museum.
Those who enjoy learning about western history and culture will likely enjoy Gunnison, especially if they arrive at the right time, ready for the century-old Cattlemen’s Day festival.
This is an event which has a rodeo, parade, and celebrates the Western way of life in a unique, exciting, and meaningful way.
There is the Monarch Ski Area for winter visiting as well. Overall, this is a unique option for those looking to visit small towns in Colorado.
If you are looking for very small towns, Creede is just that, its population is not much more than 300!
However, in spite of this really tiny population it is a highly historical site which is popular for travelers, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Colorado.
At first, Creede, like many others, was a silver mining town, and back when this was the case, it was actually quite large, with 10,000 residents, before the silver boom ended, and it shrunk.
Today, this location is popular among filmmakers, as it is very picturesque and has for this reason been the shooting location for many movies and TV shows.
It is actually also the location of the World’s Largest Fork, as an attraction that measures a whopping 40 ft, and is made from aluminum.
18. Lake City
Lake City is named appropriately since it is close to Lake San Cristóbal. It is a remote town, found along the Silver Thread scenic byway, on the Southern tip of the Colorado Mineral Belt.
As you can expect, Lake City was once a mining town, but today it is the county’s only town. Yet, like most other towns in the state it has enrapturing landscapes and amazing outdoor activities.
You will find public areas and ghost towns alike around here, perfect for adventures!
In the winter months, tourists flock here to skate on the frozen lake, skiers take to the Lake City Skiing Hill and climbers come for the Lake City Ice Climbing Festival.
Lake City also has a lovely downtown area, which is also their National Historic District, where you can find a museum that covers some of the gross and gruesome details surrounding the state’s only cannibal!
19. Estes Park
Very well renowned, Estes Park is considered the center point location for Rocky Mountain National Park, found in Larimer County, its population is 6,000 and is technically a part of Fort Collins.
Most of the time, this town is considered to be a summer resort, since it benefits from being right next to Lake Estes (hence the name), as well as Olympus Dam, and Big Thompson River.
If you enjoy outdoorsy activities or history, Estes Park is for you. You can enjoy national parks and rivers all year, go skiing in the winter months and enjoy some hiking in the summer.
Not only are you right by the Rocky Mountain National park, but you are also next to the Roosevelt National Forest too!
If you come here in the fall, you also get the opportunity to attend the elk rut, which is a mating ritual where you can watch bull elk spar, a spectacular sight!
If you enjoy history more, you can visit the Stanley Hotel or the Baldpate Inn!
Finally, we have Ridgway, which is a fairly well known town in Colorado as it is certified as part of the Colorado Creative District and is actually the real location where Grammy Award trophies are made!
It is a hip, artsy location, with the wonders of Sherbino Theater! So if you enjoy the arts, it is a place to be!
Another essential part of Ridgway’s life and tourist scene is the water.
They have a marina which can get pretty active in the summer with beach-goers, wakeboarders, and so on, all enjoying the Reservoir.
You can also enjoy natural hot springs at the Orvis Hot Springs!
It Is Time For A Small Town Colorado Getaway!
Colorado has many beautiful small towns that are well worth the visit.
Many of these towns used to be mining towns, but are now much more tourism based, with a lot of winter skiing action and museums about the past of the town.
Small Colorado small towns are also known for their celebrations and festivities, so make sure to check what is going on when you visit. When you visit, you might just stumble into something wonderful!
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