Winter Park is in a beautiful part of Colorado, but it can be incredibly expensive to live there. This is because the world-famous Winter Park Ski Resort is practically in your backyard as a resident. This prime real estate location means that home prices soar, and can easily reach the millions.
The good news is there are several lovely towns just minutes from Winter Park that offer the same access to prime skiing – without the price tag! Here are some of the best mountain towns close to Winter Park, CO.
If you’re looking to live near the Winter Park Ski Resort without paying the millions of dollars associated with the location, Fraser is your answer. Fraser is just six miles up the highway from the Winter Park Ski Resort but manages to maintain it’s sleepy, idyllic mountain town feeling without an onslaught of tourists. Here’s a quick look at Fraser stats:
- Population: 1224 (2010 census)
- Elevation: 8,754 ft
If you’ve always dreamed of living in a close-knit, year-round mountain community, Fraser is a perfect option. In the summer, you can also take advantage of the many hiking, biking and walking trails around the area.
Too tiny to be called a town officially, Tabernash is instead a community designated a “census-designated place.” It boasted only 417 residents in 2010.
Tabernash is about 10 miles north of Winter Park Ski Resort and is cupped on three sides by the Rocky Mountain National Forests. This sleepy area between Fraser and Grandby is perfect for residents who long for a quiet, peaceful existence in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of ski resort tourist traffic.
Empire is 41 minutes southeast of Winter Park Ski Resort, approximately 24 miles away. Even smaller than Tabernash, Empire only boasts just under 300 residents. However, this historical town, noted for its flourishing establishment as a Colorado Silver Boomtown, has hung on with several amenities that make it perfect for residents and visitors alike.
Empire is surrounded by beautiful creeks, lakes and is set against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountain National Forest. Its ideal situation makes it a great location for residents looking for cheaper housing costs and access to everything Colorado outdoors has to offer.
Empire also features the Stein Brewing Company, a handful of rafting companies and a Hard Rock Cafe just behind the town’s city hall. Empire’s main source of commerce is the travelers coming to and from Berthoud Pass and Winter Park Ski Resort, which is why it’s several diners, restaurants and even its coffee shop have flourished in the sleepy shadow of Mt. Douglas.
Granby, CO lies to the north of Tabernash and Fraser, and boasts a slightly lower elevation and a larger population than its counterparts:
- Elevation: 7,935
- Population: 2,074
This town is one of the best-kept secrets in this part of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Unlike smaller towns on this list, Granby has a full-fledged main street full of shops, restaurants, and suppliers. In addition, Granby has a golf course and is home to the famous Granby Ranch, where guests can ride horses, trails and more in the summer months and take a snowmobile, dog sledding, or snowshoeing. Granby’s nearby lakes are also top spots for ice fishing, and several competitions centering around ice and lake fishing occur yearly.
If you want to enjoy world-class skiing, just head south on the highway for 30 minutes. Winter Park Ski Resort is only 20 miles away!
Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado
Hot Sulphur Springs has plenty to offer its residents in the way of fishing, trails, hikes and more. However, its main draw has and probably always be the landmark that inspires its name! Hot Sulphur Springs is home to a web of hot springs that have been a resort destination since the turn of the century. The largest resort in the area has 23 pools and is a tourist destination for visitors of Colorado.
Hot Sulphur Springs is a perfect place for residents who love the outdoors. The fishing in the Colorado River and the Williams Fork Reservoir is great for trout and salmon, and the trails in Pioneer Park, including the Elk Mountain Trail, is perfect for birding and wildlife watching.
Best of all, it’s close to world-class skiing at Winter Park, without the high prices and traffic! Hot Sulphur Springs is 30.9 miles north of Winter Park, meaning some of the best skiing in the country is under an hour away.