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It’s getting frosty in the mountains

A car drives the Pikes Peak Highway to the top of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak on Monday as frost covers the trees and summit as seen near Glen Cove.

Colorado is home to four of America's top five cities according to U.S. News, which on Guesday released its list of the nation's 150 best cities.

Boulder took top marks and Denver came in second, with Colorado Springs in fourth and Fort Collins a respectable fifth place.

Cities were ranked by the value of their cost of living, the desirability of the location, the strength of the job market and their quality of life.

Here's how Colorado stacked up:

Boulder

Boulder Pearl Street Mall, Colorado

Boulder's Pearl Street Mall.

Ranked as the number one best place to live, Boulder offers a host of outdoor activities from hiking and biking to climbing and running among the foothills of the Rockies and stone outcroppings of the Flatirons. Beyond it's scenic beauty the city offers a host of activities and recreational outlets including yoga studios, aerial dance classes, a variety of restaurants and independently owned shops especially along Boulder's Pearl Street Mall.

"This blissed-out enclave attracts young professionals, families, academics, scientists, transplants from both coasts, old guards who insist it was way cooler in the 1970s and, above all, lovers of outdoor recreation," Katy Marquardt wrote in the U.S. News ranking profile.

Boulder is also a fertile ground for business opportunities with a concentrated pool of start-ups and entrepreneurial support. The city is home to world-class academic research, federal labs, and international companies, according to the city's website.

A bulk of the city's career opportunities stem from The University of Colorado Boulder, which is interwoven into the fabric of the city.

Denver

Denver ranks as the second best place to live in the U.S. as it's an hour or so drive from the mountains with access to plenty of outdoor experiences including skiing, hiking, and camping, while also being an up-and-coming metropolitan hub of commerce, wellness and culture.

"Over time, its residents have evolved from gunslinging gamblers into an easygoing crowd of ambitious, progressive-minded fitness fanatics and nature lovers who are eager to push the envelope on everything from civil rights to drug laws," Katie Hearsum wrote in the U.S. News ranking profile.

Denver's arts, parks and scenery has caused a population spike in recent years, but that means cost of living is going up too. The median home sale price of $401,542 jumped above the national average median, and continues to go up, according to U.S. News.

But growth in population and cost of living was not without a boom in commerce, thanks to the legalization of marijuana in 2012, U.S. News wrote. 

"...Denver has seen a surge in cannabis-related commerce, from dispensaries to magazines to high-tech paraphernalia like vaporizers, rolling papers, lotions and storage containers – and the industry is gaining speed."

Colorado Springs

Coming in as the fourth best place to live, Colorado Springs has many similar qualities to the other ranking Colorado cities in terms of scenic beauty and access to outdoor activities but one of the biggest differentiating points is it's affordability. Colorado Springs is more affordable than Denver, but still ranks as more expensive than the national average.

Colorado Springs also brings major presence of military families and is home to Fort Carson, The Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.

"Colorado Springs attracts students, professionals and military personnel to the area with a cache of military bases and nationally ranked college," Peter Fecteau wrote in the U.S. News ranking profile. "Plus, construction in Colorado Springs is booming, with new residences popping up alongside quality schools, parks and cultural attractions."

Some of the most notable attractions, schools, and parks include Garden of the Gods, Colorado College, America the Beautiful Park, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center — among others.

While less fast-paced than Denver, Colorado Springs still has an abundance shops and activity from quirky boutiques to eclectic coffee shops.

"Colorado Springs might not jump off the map as an economic or cultural hub the way larger metro areas like Denver do. But in a quieter, gentler way, Colorado Springs has much to offer..." U.S. News wrote.

Fort Collins

Lory state park.jpg

A hiker takes in the view at Lory State Park near Fort Collins. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Ranked as the fifth best place to live, Fort Collins is based around collegiate life.

"Home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins is known to many nationally as the Napa Valley of craft beer, hosting big names like New Belgium Brewing Co. along with new up-and-comers," Josh Rhoten wrote in the U.S. News ranking profile." Outdoor recreation is a big driver of the economy and popular in social circles."

One of the biggest spots for outdoor recreation is the Horsetooth Reservoir bordering the west side of the city and Rocky Mountain National Park is just over an hour's drive away.

When it comes to affordability Fort Collins median home price is between that of Denver and Colorado Springs at $381,358. But according to U.S. News that number could go up.

719-476-1623

@JessySnouwaert

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(3) comments

Jb

I agree with everything said, I was born on colorado in 1980. I ha e seen many areas change over the years, but one thing that I cant get over is the fact that denver has polluted itself with trying to be a wealthy state. I remember going fishing at my grandparents cabin in dillion, now you're fishing in mini malls and Starbucks. I remember going camping wherever and whenever you chose to, now you cant camp at all without paying. Between traffic becoming horrendous, price of even renting an apartment, to the high cost of everything I cant afford to move back even if I wanted to. It almost makes me sick when i visit because everywhere i go people are doused in colorado gear, which means they're probably might not be from there. As a pioneer family that goes back 6 generations (i heard they're letting anyone get the plate now) it makes me sick to see all the locals getting pushed out. Colorado is becoming so calificornicated that it makes it a very un-welcome place to live anymore. I wish we could go back to our state where people were able to do what they wanted and had the freedom of traveling un interrupted instead of spending 4 hours in traffic to go skiing. I used to be able to get to dillion in under an hour. Dont get me started on the weed. The point to this rant is just because you think that colorado is a great place to live, which is is most normal people cant afford to live there and to promote that is an awful attempt to say otherwise. I'm happy I have moved because colorado is not the beautiful state it once was and will never be again.

Lynda-Jai

Note, however, that in the first picture lots of the trees look grey. Dead. And now many of them are burning. So these great places to live often are filled with unhealthy levels of smoke. [crying][crying][crying]

mr0bv1u5

It looks to me that whoever wrote or published this study is just another uneducated loony liberal who just moved here to smoke weed. If you enjoy traffic, noise, a high cost of living and just an overall sense that the city council would rather allow the building of overpriced homes for the tax money to squeeze even more idiots in this city it can handle, then by all means, move here., You will regret it.

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