Colorado’s 10 Most Picturesque Mountain Towns
A visit to Colorado wouldn’t be complete without experiencing at least one of its mountain towns, and if you’re looking for charm and beauty along with impressive surrounding scenery, these are our top picks.
10. Estes Park
This eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is renowned for its lush, stream-filled meadows, awe-inspiring views of the Rockies and an abundance of wildlife, with elk often spotted walking the streets and lounging on the golf course. If you happen to spot an elk during your visit to Estes Park, keep in mind that these are wild animals. Don't bother them and maintain a safe distance.
Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock)
There are few more alluring scenes in Colorado than watching the historic narrow gauge railroad roll into Durango against the backdrop of the craggy peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Found in La Plata County, Durango has a population of under 20,000, making it big for a mountain town, but small in comparison to other cities around Colorado.
8. Grand Lake
Grand Lake, a western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, is full of opportunities for outdoor adventure. The setting is stunning as it’s set on the shores of Grand Lake, the largest natural lake in Colorado. Grand Lake is known as a city that goes year-round, home to lake activities and camping in the summer and snowmobiling come snowfall.
Located on the west side of Pikes Peak, there are no casinos in this once booming town like in neighboring Cripple Creek. But there is lots of fresh mountain air, along with interesting old mining structures and impressive Victorian-era buildings. Visitors love Victor for its rustic feel, at times feeling as if you've taken a several decade step back in time.
Photo Credit: Carol Lawerence
Breckenridge is often named Colorado’s prettiest Christmas town, with dazzling holiday lights and icicles that sparkle in the ever-present sunshine, set off by a backdrop of soaring snow-capped peaks, but it’s remarkably photogenic in spring, summer, and autumn as well. To catch Breckenridge when it's got the most color, plan a visit during the fall – aspens cover the surrounding hillsides.
Connected to Ouray via the legendary “Million Dollar Highway,” so called for its million dollar views, the historic mining town of Silverton might make you think you’ve taken a trip back in time with its log cabins white picket fences, 19th-century red brick buildings, and old train station. Silverton is known for getting a lot of snowfall in the area, averaging more than 150 inches in town each year. The national average is around 24 inches.
Once a booming silver-mining town, Creede sits in a former volcanic caldera and is framed by towering cliffs. It’s charm comes from its many 1890s-era buildings, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. If you're planning a visit to Creede, don't forget to check out the Bachelor Loop. It's a scenic drive past several local ghost towns.
Photo Credit: Chapin31
This “Switzerland of America” as it’s often called, sits deep in the heart of the dramatic San Juan Mountains. It’s lined with grand Victorian buildings and is home to natural hot springs where you can soak up all of that scenery while relaxing in the soothing warm waters.
Photo Credit: Larry1732 (Flickr)
Head to Ouray in the winter for an entirely different atmosphere. The biggest event of the season is an international ice climbing competition at Ouray Ice Park, a canyon filled with walls of ice.
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Often referred to as North America’s most beautiful ski town, this Victorian-era silver-mining town is tucked deep within a box canyon and is surrounded on three sides by 14,000-foot peaks, with breathtaking views in every direction, no matter what time of year you visit. If you want the best view of this town, head up a ski lift. With steep slopes, you get plenty of views at this resort.
1. Crested Butte
The mountainous landscape around Crested Butte really knows how to deliver when it comes to color in every season. Discover the reawakening of green in the spring, a remarkable kaleidoscope of wildflowers blooming in the summer; a stunning array of fall foliage blanketing the area with golden yellows, fiery reds and brilliant orange shades in autumn; and, a magical snowy wonderland in the winter. Thanks to the many bright fall colors present in the area, Crested Butte regularly gets voted as one of the best places to experience an autumn.
Technically a city, Leadville is known for being located at a high altitude of over 10,000 feet. The many mountains in the area attract a wide variety of athletes seeking unique terrain in one of the most intense settings around.
Photo Credit: Chapin31