Main Avenue in Durango, featuring the oldest bank building in Colorado. Image credit WorldPictures via Shutterstock

10 of the Friendliest Towns in Colorado

Bordered by the US States of Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, in the north, northeast, east, west, southeast, south, and southwest respectively, the landlocked state of Colorado is situated in the Western United States’ Mountain West subregion. Colorado is acclaimed for its varied topography characterized by impressive snow-covered mountain peaks, high plains, rocky cliffs & canyons, mesas, plateaus, evergreen forests, and expansive flatlands filled with sagebrush deserts. Speckled all over this picturesque terrain are countless adorable small towns widely known for their welcoming ambiance and exceptional hospitality by friendly locals. So, the next time you get an opportunity to tour the Centennial State, these friendly locales are worth adding to your itineraries.

Manitou Springs

Eclectic Victorian Architecture in Manitou Springs Colorado
Eclectic Victorian Architecture in Manitou Springs Colorado, via SWKrullImaging /

An idyllic mountain town, Manitou Springs sits at the base of Pikes Peak directly along U.S. Highway 24 in the western part of Colorado’s El Paso County. Founded as a scenic health resort by Dr. William Abraham Bell and General William Jackson Palmer in 1872, the town is known for its stunning surroundings and the natural mineral springs scattered throughout the town. Considered one of the country's most expansive National Historic Districts, the Manitou Springs Historic District comprises several 19th-century Victorian frame houses, churches, hotels, high-style buildings, public libraries, and museums. Manitou Springs’ prominent attractions include the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, Manitou Springs Incline, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Miramont Castle Museum, Broadmoor Manitou & Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, Rainbow/Graffiti Falls, and the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Dinner Theater. Several exciting events like the summer concert series at Soda Springs Park, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Races, Colorado Wine Festival, Commonwheel Arts and Crafts Festival, the Great Fruitcake Toss, Mardi Gras celebration, and Victorian Christmas at Miramont are annually hosted by the town.


Salida Downtown Historic District in Salida, Colorado.
Salida Downtown Historic District in Salida, Colorado. By Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Chaffee County’s seat, this teeny town occupies the heart of the Rockies and is abutted by the Sawatch Range, the Arkansas River, and Monarch Mountain. As Upper Arkansas Valley’s service, supply, and tourism hub, Salida is a well-known destination for outdoor adventurers offering a wide variety of activities for every age group. When in town, hike the Sawatch Range, soothe your fatigued muscles at the natural hot springs, enjoy whitewater rafting at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, tour the Browns Canyon National Monument, hit the single-track mountain bike trails in summer, ski at the Monarch Mountain Ski Area, and fish in the upper Arkansas River. Apart from this, browse Salida’s lively downtown which is packed with dozens of historically significant buildings, independent souvenir shops, art galleries, breweries, artist-owned studios, distilleries, and eateries. 

Crested Butte

Street view of Crested Butte, Colorado with pizzeria
Street view of Crested Butte, Colorado with pizzeria

Crested Butte is a pretty alpine town situated in the north-central portion of Gunnison County on the western side of Slate River Valley. Called “the wildflower capital of Colorado” in the warmer months and “the last great Colorado ski town” in the cold season, Crested Butte is an excellent destination for skiing, mountain biking, and other outdoor recreations. The Crested Butte Mountain Resort with its first-rate downhill skiing and snowboarding facilities draws winter sport aficionados from around the world. Moreover, throughout the year, the town hosts many festivals including the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte Music Festival, Crested Butte Bike Week, Butte Bash College Ski Week, Extreme Board Fest, and Crested Butte International Film Festival.


The gorgeous town of Telluride, Colorado.
The gorgeous town of Telluride, Colorado.

Telluride, the seat of government and the most populous town of San Miguel County is located in a remote spot on the San Juan Mountains’ western flanks at an altitude of 8,750 ft in the southwestern part of the state. Initially a booming silver mining camp along the San Miguel River, this postcard-pretty alpine town, at present offers ample recreation like mountain biking, golfing, rock climbing, hiking, river rafting, camping, cross-country skiing, trout fishing, and ATVing in both the warmer and cooler months. The National Register-listed Telluride Historic District encompasses a major part of the town’s developed area and features carefully maintained stately Victorian-era mansions lining Colorado Street – the town’s chief commercial avenue. Downtown Telluride also has scores of independent shops, bookstores, clothing boutiques, art galleries, the Telluride Historical Museum, Sheridan Opera House, and finest restaurants like the Smuggler Union Restaurant & Brewery, Butcher & Baker Café, and 221 South Oak. The town hosts the Hot Air Balloon Festival, Telluride Yoga Festival, and Telluride Film Festival yearly.


Street view in Ouray, Colorado
Street view in Ouray, Colorado

Nicknamed, “Switzerland of America,” this home-rule municipality and Ouray County’s seat is located at an elevation of 7,792 ft in a steep valley of southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, around 40 miles south of Monrose. Being the state’s “outdoor recreation capital” Ouray lures holidayers from worldwide to partake in a wide variety of recreational activities like ice climbing, hiking, off-roading in four-wheel drive, and trail running. The town’s Main Street (a National Register Historic District) has numerous late 19th-century buildings including the Beaumont Hotel, Wright Opera House, St. Elmo Hotel, Ouray City Hall & Walsh Library, Western Hotel, St. Joseph’s Miners’ Hospital which at present houses the Ouray County Historical Society & Museum. Furthermore, vacationers must check out Ouray’s numerous waterfalls and the five developed hot springs. During summers, the brave-hearted adventurers can enjoy a scenic drive along the Million Dollar Highway/San Juan Skyway and hike the Yankee Boy Basin in the Uncompahgre National Forest which is ideal for witnessing Colorado’s summer wildflowers.

Steamboat Springs

Valley in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Destination for both Summer and Winter tourism activities.
Valley in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Destination for both Summer and Winter tourism activities.

Colloquially referred to as “The Boat,” Steamboat Springs, the seat of Routt County is located in the upper Yampa River valley along U.S. Highway 40, immediately west of the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountains’ Rabbit Ears Pass. A noted winter ski resort destination, this chief town of the Steamboat Springs Micropolitan Statistical Area houses the famed Steamboat Ski Resort on Mount Werner, which is spread over an area of 2,965 acres and has 297 named trails of which 14% are for beginners, 42% are for intermediates, and 44 are for the advanced.  Adventure seekers must take a ride on the Steamboat Gondola for sweeping views of the surroundings, hike the Fish Creek Falls, bike the Yampa River Core Trail, go snowshoeing at Haymaker Nordic Center, peruse the innumerable shops, bars, restaurants, and the Tread of Pioneers Museum, watch a performance by the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, and relax after a hectic day at the mineral pools of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Every year, the town hosts the Yampa River Festival, Cowboy Downhill, Steamboat Winter WonderGrass Music Festivals, and Winter Carnival.


Bauer Bank Block commercial building, constructed in Mancos, Colorado.
Bauer Bank Block commercial building, constructed in Mancos, Colorado.

Dubbed “Gateway to Mesa Verde,” this serene statutory town in southwestern Colorado’s Montezuma County occupies the Mancos River Valley between Durango and Cortez along U.S. Route 160 Highway. Encircled by mountains and rangelands, Mancos serves as East Montezuma County’s commercial center and is distinguished for its proximity to a handful of prominent places of interest like the Mesa Verde National Park, Mancos State Park, Chicken Creek cross-country ski area, Four Corners Monument, and Jackson Gulch Reservoir. Currently, Mancos has transformed into a noteworthy art colony with the Mancos Creative District stretching across several blocks of the downtown. The Downtown business district is chock-full of ancient structures, art galleries, independent shops, coffee houses, bakeries, award-winning restaurants, and the Columbine Bar & Grill – one of the oldest continuously operating bars in the state. Various exciting yearly events such as Mancos Bloom, Burrofest, Mancos Valley Summer Brewfest, Mancos Farmers Market, and Mancos Days are held here.


Welcome sign to Gunnison, Colorado.
Welcome sign to Gunnison, Colorado.

Lovingly called “Gunny” by the locals, this home-rule municipality named in honor of the area’s first-known European-American explorer Captain John Williams Gunnison, is located between the Elk Mountains and Sawatch Range along the Gunnison River in Colorado’s Gunnison County. Aside from being home to the principal campus of Western State Colorado University, Gunnison offers a plethora of outdoor recreations against a backdrop of the bewitching Rocky Mountains. Travelers can tour the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, McIntosh State Wildlife Area, Tomichi State Wildlife Area, Curecanti National Recreation Area, and Sapinero State Wildlife Area, all of which are situated close to the town. One should also witness the clear night skies at Gunnison Valley Observatory, gain some knowledge about the region’s glorious bygone days at the Gunnison Pioneer Museum, enjoy a thrilling whitewater experience at Taylor River, fish at the adjacent reservoirs, de-stress at the Jorgensen Park and explore the bike trails at Hartman Rocks recreation area.


Aspen, Colorado: Town in Colorado with vintage architecture
Aspen, Colorado: Town in Colorado with vintage architecture, via Kristi Blokhin /

Aspen is a tranquil retreat located in west-central Colorado’s Pitkin County at the southeastern extremity of the Roaring Fork Valley along the Roaring Fork River, roughly 40 miles south of Glenwood Springs. Initially established as a mining community during the Colorado Silver Boom, the town was later renamed Aspen after the abundant aspen trees in the abutting region. A four-season vacation mecca for tourists and locals alike, holidayers who head to Aspen during the sunny season must engage in activities like hiking, rock climbing, fly fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, etc. From December to the beginning of April, tourists can take part in downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, up-hilling, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and innumerable winter activities. Additionally, visitors can hop on the Silver Queen Gondola that takes one to the top of Aspen Mountain, tour the Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort, Aspen Art Museum, Wheeler Opera House, and Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies, or catch a music show by renowned artists at Belly Up Aspen – the town’s live music venue.


Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado.
Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado. Image credit Trever Gearhart via Shutterstock

The administrative center of southwestern Colorado’s La Plata County, Durango is a home-rule municipality placed at the base of the La Plata Mountains in the luxuriant Animas River Valley. Settled between September 1880 and April 1881 as a frontier mining town by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, the community was christened after the Mexican state of Durango. Travelers must walk down the Main Avenue Historic District, which features a handful of landmark properties, art galleries, boutiques, eateries, coffee shops, brewpubs, and other locally-owned businesses. Embark on a historic train ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which runs on a 45.2-mile track winding its way through forests, mountains, and deserted mines, connecting Durango with Silverton. Some other prominent attractions of this favorite all-season tourist mecca include the Mesa Verde National Park, San Juan Skyway, Colorado Trail, Durango Wildlife Museum & Fish Hatchery, San Juan National Forest, Animas River Trail, Southern Ute Tourist Center, and Purgatory Ski Resort. Annually, the town hosts many events like the Snowdown Festival, Music in the Mountains, Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival, and Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

From Ouray – the “Switzerland of America” to Mancos – the “Gateway to Mesa Verde,” the picture-perfect small towns in the nation’s 8th-largest and 21st-most populous have something for every vacationer. Boasting spectacular Rocky Mountain views, vibrant cultural scenes, historic mining-era downtowns, and a wealth of recreational activities, these friendly Colorado towns are fascinating escapes far away from the hubbub of the state’s bigger metropolises.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 10 of the Friendliest Towns in Colorado

More in Places