Colorado is internationally renowned for its beautiful scenery, high quality of life, and abundance of outdoor activities it offers. Everybody’s familiar with the big cities like Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder, but might forget about Colorado’s quaint mountain towns, often only a short distance from major cities. These tucked-away retreats offer beautiful scenery, a rich culture, and a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and those who wish to escape from either life’s problems or simply avoid the hustle and bustle of city life.
Winter Park is home to Mary Jane Mountain, voted the #1 spot for mogul skiing in North America and where the U.S. Freestyle Mogul Team trained for the 1998, 2002, and 2006 Olympics.
Located just 67 miles west of Denver, Winter Park is the closest major resort destination to Denver International Airport as well as Colorado’s longest continually-running ski resort, having been in operation since 1939. With 3,081 acres of skiable terrain covering seven territories, 150 trails, 20 lifts, and 320 inches of average annual snowfall, the resort covers an extensive area. Winter Park may be the place to go for skiing fanatics, but the area is also a premier attraction that’s wonderful for anybody who’s looking for a beautiful place to engage in a variety of both cold- and warm-weather activities.
Morrison is one of the stops on the 40-mile Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, a scenic route established in the early 1920s to encourage locals to experience the beautiful mountainous areas near the Denver metro area.
Morrison is a town that’s home to fascinating history and several landmarks. Main attractions include the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Bear Creek, and Mount Falcon Park. Archaeology and geology fans can check out Dinosaur Ridge, an area where you can see perfectly-preserved dinosaur prints. Just outside town lies The Fort, a critic-approved high-end wild game establishment. And in warmer weather, the town’s Bandimere Speedway hosts several track events, including National Hot Rod Association races, on its 1/4-mile drag strip.
This mining town is home to a brewery and the original Beau Jo’s, known for making Colorado’s best pizza.
Idaho Springs not only serves at the Rockies’ Front Range entry point, it also shows off its historical side with traditional-style buildings from its mining town days. Just south of downtown, the world-famous Indian Hot Springs resort boasts mineral pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, a day spa, and his-and-hers geothermal cave baths.
Evergreen is a town with a colorful history, being used as a former Ute and Arapaho hunting ground until 1860, when white settlers began homesteading there.
Today in Evergreen, you’ll find an eclectic community and rich cultural heritage, complete with local music, fine dining, and arts options to choose from. Evergreen’s greatest quality, however, is its natural beauty, recognized by even prominent figures such as Greta Garbo and Teddy Roosevelt. Landmarks include Evergreen Lake, a natural gem that offers picnicking and boating in the summer, ice-skating in the winter, and fishing anytime. The 14,624-foot Mt. Evans and 76-foot-high Maxwell Falls are also breathtaking sights. Finally, Jefferson County Open Space is a great place for camping, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Estes Park is home to the Stanley Hotel, a historic landmark on which author Stephen King based his novel “The Shining.”
Estes Park, located on the fringes of Rocky Mountain National Park, is best known for serving as the national park’s eastern gateway, making for picturesque scenery and panoramic mountain views. Within the park, there are several miles of hiking trails that weave through creeks, wind around mountains, and cut through grassy meadows. Estes Park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities in the summer, fall, and winter, such as camping, hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, rock/ice climbing, and water sports like stand-up paddle boarding and whitewater rafting.
Georgetown is a place steeped in mining history; it’s a Victorian mining town that, even to this day, has no traffic lights.
You can find Georgetown located about an hour west from Denver. The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park, a 75-minute trail ride between Georgetown and Silver Plume, is the town’s most popular attraction by far, offering breathtaking views 640 feet above Rocky Mountain Territory. Georgetown also offers several activities, from rafting, hiking, and biking, to shopping, to exploring the web of historic mining roads.
Nederland shows off Colorado’s eccentric side with the “Frozen Dead Guy Days” festival, a festival that celebrates the body of a Norwegian immigrant that is still frozen in a Tuff Shed.
Nederland, located just west of Boulder and nestled in the Rockies, offers unique shops and a dynamic music scene in addition to being an outdoor lover’s paradise; the town serves as a base camp for Eldora Mountain Resort, which offers family-friendly skiing as well as snowboarding and alpine/Nordic skiing only five miles away. In the summer, there are also several great day hikes and mountain biking trails nearby.