Small towns in Colorado are some of the most charming places in the state. With their quaint shops and friendly people, they offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
While each has its own unique character, they all share a sense of community that makes them special.
If you're looking for a place to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, one of these small Colorado towns is sure to be the perfect fit.
Still not motivated enough to visit the small towns in Centennial State? Here are more reasons why you need to plan a trip soon.
Colorado is famous for its extensive encompassing of the southern portion of the Rocky Mountains.
As a part of the Mountain West, it is teeming with forested areas, verdancy, and a good deal of flora and fauna.
This makes Colorado small towns especially captivating to tourists, as these little settlements are often close at hand to various national parks, mountain peaks, canyons, and lakes.
It's hard to pick just a few of the best small towns in Colorado, as so many of them bring forth the full might of Western charm with the whimsy and relaxation of rural living.
Still, some certainly stand out for their history, natural beauty, and proximity to various outdoorsy hotspots. Here are the 20 most beautiful small towns in Colorado.
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Durango is situated in La Plata County with a population of approximately 20,000 and is a gem for history and nature buffs. For those who love to explore, this is one of the best small towns in Colorado!
One of the favorite attractions in Durango is Main Avenue, which is a Nationally Registered Historic District and boasts gorgeous historic architecture.
Main Avenue can be found in Durango's downtown area, where it is packed with various quaint boutiques, galleries, entertainment venues, businesses, bars, restaurants, and a pair of historic hotels. This is also where you'll find the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot.
Outdoor enthusiasts also love Durango, especially during the summer, when numerous activities are available in the town's surrounding wilderness.
The Animas River offers great whitewater rafting opportunities, and there are mountains scaling 14,000 feet to conquer.
Durango is also a gateway to the historic Mesa Verde National Park, where you'll be able to see relics of indigenous people from 1500 years ago.
Address: Durango, Colorado
Silverton, as its name suggests, was once a silver mining town and now rests beautifully 9,000 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains.
It is the only incorporated municipality that boasts a history dating back to 1860 when the first claims were made toward the end of the Gold Rush.
A fair bit of snow falls here in winter, making it a haven for winter activities like skiing and ice climbing. Summertime brings the chance for backcountry exploration, so there's always something to do!
All of the Statutory Town of Silverton is considered a National Historic Landmark District and is formally known as the Silverton Historic District.
Originally named Bakers Park, it's a stunning location in the Animas River valley surrounded by gorgeous peaks, most of which are impressive thirteeners, including Storm Peak.
This is also one of the most famous gateways into the backcountry of Colorado, making this an especially premier choice among small Colorado towns.
Address: Silverton, Colorado
Aspen is probably one of the most famous small towns in Colorado, with worldwide renown due to its incredible views of the Rocky Mountains and its tendency to attract celebrities and the rich and famous. Aspen boasts barely over 7,000 residents.
There's no end to the things you can do in Aspen. Tons of nightlife and shopping options color the little locale, as do bars, restaurants, and numerous museums and historic buildings.
But what's most known about Aspen are its four ski areas: Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, and Aspen Snowmass.
All of them bring you over 5,000 acres of gorgeous terrain to ski on, so this is the perfect winter getaway.
But even in the summer, great recreational options still exist, like hiking, biking, fly fishing, and even visiting the nearby Maroon Bells.
Address: Aspen, Colorado
Also Read: Best Things To Do in Aspen
Known by some as the “Last Great Colorado Ski Town,” this little piece of wintery paradise has made an incredible transformation from a coal-mining town to a skiing destination over the last century.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love the East River Valley and the 750 miles of trails available to explore in the area.
At the perfect time of year, wildflower season provides a breathtaking experience of vibrant flowers, which earned Crested Butte its reputation as Colorado's wildflower capital.
And, of course, the winter months bring snowy sporting opportunities galore!
Throughout the year, Crested Butte hosts many fun festivals, including a wonderful Independence Day bash.
Address: Crested Butte, Colorado
Manitou Springs is situated at Pikes Peak's feet, a municipality of El Paso County with only about 5,000 residents.
It was originally founded in 1872 as a "scenic health resort". One of the town's unique attractions is natural mineral springs, with eight famous mineral springs that can be found throughout the town and several more nearby.
Manitou Springs has quite a lot of history, boasting plenty of attractions and old architecture, especially in the Manitou Springs Historic District area.
Miramont Castle is a particularly notable feature. The town is also an excellent gateway to Barr Trail, which brings you to Pikes Peak.
Simply put, there's a reason this Colorado small town is considered a resort town, and its nickname of the Saratoga of the West is well-earned!
Don't forget to try out the town's many tours to natural attractions, such as the Cave of the Winds and Rainbow Falls.
Address: Manitou Springs, Colorado
"Stunning" is an excellent word to describe Telluride and its surrounding area. Incredible mountains, sheer cliffs, tumbling falls, and glacial lakes are just a few of the natural wonders you can access from this beautiful little town in Colorado.
Telluride is situated inside a box canyon with the stunning Bridal Veil Falls at the very head of this canyon.
Telluride's life began in 1878 as a mining town, boasting silver, copper, zinc, lead, and the gold telluride that eventually gave the town its name.
Telluride is commonly referenced in many songs and pieces of pop culture, and it's also known for its winter slopes and ski resorts.
It also has an impressive lineup of summer events, with a Hot Air Balloon Festival in June and numerous other festivals throughout the season. Telluride Historic District is also a great visit and part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Exploration is enriching in Telluride. With just under 3,000 residents and an 80-acre downtown area that was once a camp for silver mining, you can feast your eyes on boutiques, restaurants, and landscapes.
Hike up to the waterfalls or go for a drive! You can even hop onto a free gondola ride to be brought to Mountain Village, another one of the small Colorado towns and Telluride's companion town.
Address: Telluride, Colorado
Often referred to as the Switzerland of America, Ouray has just about a thousand residents and a gorgeous 360-degree view of the San Juan Mountains.
The alpine environment is a must-visit for many adventurous outdoor enthusiasts who stop here to hike in the Box Canyon Falls Park or to go ice climbing in the winter at Ouray Ice Park.
Ouray was wealthy in its heyday thanks to the many gold and silver mines in the area, and you can see much of that wealth reflected in the historic brick buildings and their stunning architecture.
At 8,000 feet above the ground, the beautiful small town offers much to do, with mine tours, breweries, Victorian architecture, and parks to enjoy.
Address: Ouray, Colorado
Glenwood Springs is an incredibly popular mineral spring town with fewer than 10,000 residents.
Situated at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River, this relatively populous town offers plenty of activities and is known as the state's land of water.
Glenwood Springs is fairly famous as an arts environment, with a vibrant small-town charm that makes it a popular hotspot for food, drink, and culture.
This is especially true in its downtown area, which provides thrift shops, quaint boutiques, local bookstores, and outdoor dining.
If you're more outdoorsy, you can head to the Hanging Lake and hike on its boardwalk or go fishing, paragliding, and even rafting.
The Sunlight Mountain Resort offers great skiing opportunities. And, of course, we can't forget the numerous restorative hot springs to soak and relax in!
Address: Glenwood Springs, CO
With under 5000 residents, this small Colorado town captures the quintessential feel of a small town USA.
This is the epitome of Christmas towns in Colorado, renowned for Breckenridge Ski Resort, a skiing destination popular since its opening in 1961.
Simply called "Breck" by locals, it's a fantastic winter destination, and holiday lights greet you early as snow begins to fall. This is also where the International Snow Sculpture Championship is held!
Other seasons can also be pretty fulfilling in Breckenridge, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails, fly-fishing spots, mountain biking trails, and blooming wildflowers make for some great adventurers.
There are also numerous rivers and lakes to raft or boat in. Festivals are often held during the summer, and the yearly Fourth of July parade is fantastic.
And, of course, no matter the time of year, Breckenridge's historic Main Street still has many logs and clapboard buildings, with charming restaurants and local shops to explore and enjoy.
For a town that was originally a mining settlement, it sure has grown and changed over the years!
Address: Breckenridge, CO
Trinidad is an early Colorado settlement, settled even before the state was a state at all. Now, it has a population of just under 10,000.
Its convenient location near the Santa Fe Trail, a historic trading route, is why Mexican and Spanish settlers chose this spot to build their home.
Trinidad is informally known as Weed Town, as it is home to a whopping 25 marijuana dispensaries. As such, you can expect quite a bit of counterculture in this fascinating, charming locale.
History lovers will enjoy exploring the Trinidad History Museum, and art lovers will appreciate that the settlement is a Certified Colorado Creative District with loads of art galleries.
All in all, this is one of the unique Colorado small towns to add to your list.
Address: Trinidad, CO
Steamboat Springs is well-known as a winter ski resort destination. With close to 15,000 residents, it's one of the great small cities in Colorado for holiday travelers.
With the wonders of the Steamboat Ski Resort in the Park Range on Mount Werner and the Howelsen Hill Ski Area, there are many ways to enjoy a cold season here.
This little city has produced more Winter Olympic athletes than any other North American town!
Steamboat Springs, often called "The Boat" by locals, can be found on the Yampa River's upper valley.
The river, as you can probably guess, offers great white-water experiences. Cyclists will also enjoy biking in the area, as this is a League of American Bicyclists-approved prime spot.
Address: Steamboat Springs, CO
Leadville is a statutory city and one of the most beautiful small cities in Colorado, serving as Lake County's seat.
It boasts a population of fewer than 3,000 and can be found 10,152 feet above the ground, at the headwaters of the Rocky Mountains' Arkansas River.
Once upon a time, it was a silver mining town, and it now holds its legacy with historic sites and buildings in the Leadville Historic District.
You can see all sorts of peaks from the town, some scaling 14,000 feet. A bit of a hidden gem, Leadville boasts Colorado's two tallest peaks, Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert, and is close to the stunning Turquoise Lake.
All around you, red-barked pines and ponderosa pines make for an incredible, rustic panorama.
Address: Leadville, CO
The statutory town of Lyons is situated in Boulder County, boasting just above 2,000 residents.
You'll find it at the confluence of the South and North St. Vrain Creek. It is incredibly scenic but is often overlooked among stunning small towns in Colorado.
Its location near Rocky Mountain National Park has earned it the name of Double Gateway to the Rockies.
On three sides of Lyons, you'll see red sandstone rocks soaring up to the sky, with rock that is impressively 260 million years or so old.
The town is also very focused on historic preservation, and 15 of its sandstone buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. You should visit the Lyons Redstone Museum to learn more about the town's history!
Recreational options in Lyons are diverse. You can go class II-V whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, climbing, and mountain biking. Regular concerts are also held here, and public art installations are commonplace.
Address: Lyons, CO
Snowmass Village is just about a 15-minute drive from Aspen, yet it feels a world away.
This is another one of the Colorado small towns dedicated to skiing and winter sports, technically a part of the four mountains that make up the Aspen Snowmass.
The Limelight Snowmass is a fantastic place to ski in Snowmass Village. Just over 2,000 people live here permanently, so it's a charming small locale perfect for quaint holidays and relaxed exploration.
In the summer, head to the Elk Mountains to hike and bike.
Address: Snowmass Village, CO
The incredibly small town of Creede boasts only a population of fewer than 300. Despite its tiny population, the highly historic site is relatively popular among travelers and known as one of the most beautiful small towns in Colorado.
Originally, Creede was a silver mining town and was quite large, with 10,000 residents before shrinking after the silver boom met its end.
Filmmakers love the location today, as it's highly picturesque and has been used in many shows and movies.
Funnily enough, Creede is also known for being the site of the World's Largest Fork, a roadside attraction measuring 40 feet and made from aluminum.
Address: Creede, CO
Fruita is situated in the Grand Junction in Mesa County, with a population of about 14,000.
It's one of the most beautiful small cities in Colorado and was incorporated in 1894 after white farmers settled on the land of the Ute people.
Originally, Fruita was primarily a fruit-growing town, hence its name. It has, however, since grown and moved onto newer conquests, and it's even earned awards for development and growth.
There's never a shortage of things to do, as festivals and events are held regularly.
This is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy rafting, biking, and hiking in the area. Birding, horseback riding, and rodeos are also common sources of entertainment.
Address: Fruita, CO
Estes Park is renowned among small towns in Colorado as the central headquarters location for the incredibly popular Rocky Mountain National Park.
Located in Larimer County, the statutory town has a population of about 6,000 and is a part of Fort Collins.
For the most part, the town is known as a summer resort and enjoys a location next to the Big Thompson River, Olympus Dam, and Lake Estes.
Whether you enjoy history or outdoor experiences, Estes Park has it all. You can go hiking in summer and skiing in winter, exploring the national parks and rivers to your heart's content.
There's not only the Rocky Mountain National Park but also Roosevelt National Forest to enjoy.
In the autumn, you can attend the annual elk rut, a mating ritual where you watch bull elk spar. History enthusiasts, meanwhile, can visit the Baldpate Inn and Stanley Hotel.
Address: Estes Park, CO
Also Read: Best Things To Do in Estes Park
Gunnison is named after John W. Gunnison. The man was a surveyor for a transcontinental railway and was the first English explorer known to scour the area.
Gunnison began to grow in the 1870s, and you can learn about the man who named it and its growth at Gunnison Pioneer Museum.
Fans of Western culture will enjoy their time at Gunnison, especially if they're arriving right in time for the century-old Cattlemen's Days festival.
The event features a parade and rodeo and fully celebrates Western life in a meaningful and exciting way.
You can also visit in winter to ski at the Monarch Ski Area. All in all, this is a simple and charming option among Colorado small towns.
Address: Gunnison, CO
Ridgway is relatively well-known among small towns in Colorado, as it is a Certified Colorado Creative District and also the place where the real Grammy Award trophies are crafted.
This is an artsy, hip town with the wonders of the historic Sherbino Theater.
Water is also an essential part of Ridgway's local life and tourism. A marina here gets active in summer, with wakeboarders and beach-goers enjoying the Ridgway Reservoir's offerings.
There's also the Orvis Hot Springs, a fantastic natural hot springs resort.
Address: Ridgway, CO
Lake City, named for its proximity to Lake San Cristobal, is a remote statutory town.
Situated along the beautiful Silver Thread scenic byway, it's on the southern tip of the Colorado Mineral Belt and was once a booming mining town.
Today, it's the county's only town, boasting great outdoor activities and jaw-dropping landscapes, like many small Colorado towns.
Ghost towns and public areas are around, making it an incredibly relaxing getaway.
In winter, Lake City welcomes tourists looking to skate on the frozen San Cristobal Lake, climbers for the Lake City Ice Climbing Festival, and skiers at the Lake City Ski Hill.
Meanwhile, its downtown area is a National Historic District and features a particularly unique museum covering the gruesome details of Colorado's only cannibal.
Address: Lake City, CO
The best small towns to live in Colorado are Telluride, Aspen, and Vail. All of these towns offer stunning scenery, great outdoor recreation opportunities, and high quality of life.
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Colorado small towns put their best feet forward in terms of tourism, offering gorgeous, verdant forested mountains, crystalline lakes and bodies of water, and long legacies with a rich history.
With unique cultures and incredible stories to tell, most of these towns have something to offer no matter what season you plan to take your vacation.
It's hard to choose between them, but this list of beautiful small towns in Colorado should help you to narrow down your choices for a lovely holiday.