Denver, Colorado is a central location to some of the best sights and outdoor activities in the state of Colorado. It is also the second most popular city in the US, according to US News & World Report. It’s close proximity to the mountain getaway makes it a clear winner for tourists and those migrating from other states. There is so much to do!
In fact, there are several ski towns near Denver that you must visit if you’re ever near the infamous Mile High City. Besides being close to prime ski resorts in the area, each of the following towns makes for a great day trip with cool sights and attractions in each town.
From hikes to history, festivals to must-visit breweries and restaurants…find out what you need to know about the best ski towns near Denver. You can enjoy each of these locations year-round, with unique activities in the summer months, too! Interested to learn more or want more getaway destinations? Here are 10 Best Rocky Mountain Towns to visit.
Location: Northwest of Winter Park Ski Resort, in the valley of the Fraser River along Highway U.S. Highway 40
Distance from Denver International Airport: 95.3 mi (1-hour 47-minute drive)
Known for: Winter Park’s “The Cirque” is an un-groomed, double-black-diamond, backcountry skiing and riding area (patrolled), that has a 2,260 ft. drop deemed 75% most difficult.
Fraser is a hidden gem in Colorado. This charming mountain town actually has an impressive and little-known history as the site of a German POW camp in WWII. The prisoners were shipped over from Italy and made to work in a lumber camp. However, the German prisoners were so charmed by the kind people in Fraser and lovely surroundings, that they wrote fondly of their experience in the camp in documented letters after the war. How’s that for hospitality?
Fraser is nearly in Winter Park’s backyard, which means you have access to the famous Winter Park Ski Resort here. However, there are several other snowy attractions that are worth a visit! Hideaway Park and Colorado Adventure Park are both nearby. They offer numerous outdoor activities like climbing walls, sledding hills and more.
Fraser is more affordable than neighboring Winter Park, with the same proximity to skiing. It’s also more spread out and less crowded so you can enjoy the natural landscape. There are new developments in the are such as our Grand Park community with homes for sale in Fraser, CO.
Location: Summit County on Colorado Highway 9, about 10 miles from I-70 and the town of Frisco, CO
Distance from Denver International Airport: 104.3 mi (1-hour 49-minute drive)
Known for: 200 shops and almost 100 restaurants and bars! Imperial Express Superchair lift reaches heights of 12,998 feet making it the highest point reached via chairlift in North America.
This hearty little mining town was once nearly wiped off the map by river dredging. However, Breckenridge has bounced back to become a beloved tourist destination. Part of the draw is the Breckenridge Resort known for its skiing.
However, stunning hiking trails regularly draw travelers and locals in the summer months, too! If you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Mohawk Lake Trail. This scenic hike has it all- waterfalls, mining ruins, and jaw-dropping alpine lakes.
Location: East of the Continental Divide and West of the Gore Range. Nearest mountains are Buffalo and the Red Mountains. Silverthorne is one of the closest towns to Denver, just west of the Eisenhower tunnel off I-70.
Distance from Denver International Airport: 90.9 mi (1-hour 29-minute drive)
Known for: Summit Elevation at Keystone is 12,408 feet and has 20 chairlifts with more than 120 trails for skiers and snowboarders.
It’s close proximity to Keystone Resort makes Silverthorne a ski town, but it has lots of year-round features that make it a great town to visit from nearby Denver. If you visit in late summer, you absolutely must hike to Lily Pad Lake. The trail is a mountain hike and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of thousands of lilypads.
Or enjoy Rainbow Park on a sunny day. While this park is a favorite of local tourists, it also has a ton of draw for visitors from out of town. This park hosts concerts, soccer and football games in the summer. It also features a skate park and several climbers, swings, slides and a Ranger Station. In the winter, Rainbow Park offers a fantastic sledding hill.
In addition, the Outlets at Silverthorne offer great shopping deals, many of America’s favorite restaurants and even shopping packages for brides and shopaholics!
Location: Directly off I-70, directly west of Eisenhower Tunnel and Denver
Distance from Denver International Airport: 95.4 mi (1-hour 36-minute drive)
Known for: Proximity to six major ski resorts including Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin. Thus, it is often called the ‘Main Street of the Rockies’
Frisco is described as the “Main Street of the Rockies.” In fact, it’s ideally situated to enjoy the wealth of outdoor adventures and experiences of Colorado, as well as making a fabulous family holiday destination. This is because Frisco is close to the Rocky Mountains, as well as rivers, lakes and the famous Dillon Reservoir! In fact, the reservoir is literally accessible from the end of Main Street!
Frisco is close to both Keystone and Breckenridge Resorts, as well as another local ski resort favorite, Copper Mountain. For winter sports enthusiasts, Frisco Nordic Center has facilities for skating, cross country skiing and even snowshoeing.
There’s plenty to do in the summer months, too. Frisco is a destination for white water rafting as well as kayaking and watercraft sports. The Frisco Bay Marina is a great place to walk, relax by the water or even rent kayaks, paddle boards or pontoon boats! The Dillon Reservoir is a world sailing destination and hosts many regattas on its waters.
If you prefer land, you can watch the sailing sports from the comfort of delicious waterside dining destinations. There are also pristine beaches along the waterside that are perfect for families. Or you can take the kids to enjoy the slides and jungle gym equipment that the park here. All in all, the lake reservoir makes for a perfect family destination, whatever the activity you choose!