Aerial drone view high above Denver, Colorado with the downtown skyline and Rocky Mountains. Image credit Roschetzky Photography.

Best College Towns in the Rockies

The Rockies is a region often left underrated and certainly not given enough attention. This magnificent mountain range spans north to Canada near the British Columbia-Yukon border and continues south to northern Albuquerque, New Mexico! This mountain range features breathtaking untouched, landscapes as well as cities, towns, and communities which are home to some of the highest-quality educational institutions in the nation. Choosing the environment for study is a crucial decision for any new student, however, this list will ensure snapshots of the diverse collection of towns with the best schools, from bigger cities to smaller, nature-oriented communities.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sunny view of the beautiful campus of The University of New Mexico on
The University of New Mexico campus. Image credit Kit Leong via Shutterstock.

Part of the majestic rocky mountain range, Albuquerque, the largest city in the state is home to many excellent universities, entertaining nightlife, and picturesque Spanish Pueblo revival architecture. When searching for post-secondary institutions in Albuquerque, future students will come across several outstanding universities and colleges. There is the University of New Mexico, Southwest University of Visual Arts, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Trinity Southwest University, University of St. Francis College of Nursing and Allied Health Department of Physician Assistant Studies, St. Norbert College Master of Theological Studies program; New Mexico State University, Highlands University, Lewis University, Wayland Baptist University, and Webster University; Brookline College, Pima Medical Institute, National American University, Grand Canyon University, the University of Phoenix. Additionally, several barber and cosmetology colleges have established their presence in the Albuquerque area. Albuquerque, thanks to the city's thriving student population, has an abundance of nightlife ranging from clubs and bars to pubs and restaurants such as Posh Nightclub, Effex Nightclub, Cake Nightclub, and more! 

Denver, Colorado

Panorama of Denver skyline long exposure at twilight.
Denver, Colorado skyline. Image credit f11photography via Shutterstock.

As the biggest city in the naturally gorgeous state of Colorado, Denver is bound to be home to some top-tier universities! Thanks to the city's boom in population and economy, Denver is home to the University of Colorado-Denver, University of Denver, MSU Denver, Community College of Denver, Regis University, Denver College of Nursing, Aspen University, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, Aveda Institute Denver, Westwood College, Lincoln College of Tech, William Howard Taft University, Iliff School of Theology, The Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Pima Medical Institute and many more post-secondary institutions. Denver is home to a booming and unique nightlife with one club being a chapel converted to a nightclub named "The Church", alongside other more traditional clubs and bars such as Club Vinyl, Mike Bar, Temple Nightclub Denver, Howl At The Moon, and El Fiesta. Great spots to eat downtown include Nola Jane Restaurant & Bar, Rioja, and Corinne Restaurant Denver.

Laramie, Wyoming

 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources located on the campus of the University of Wyoming
 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Image credit Jillian Cain Photography via Shutterstock.

Although Laramie is a much smaller city compared to Denver and Albuquerque, with a population of 31,659, does not mean that the quality of Laramie's schools is any less! Laramie is home to two highly-recognized post-secondary institutions, the University of Wyoming and WyoTech. Out of the 31,659 residents of Laramie, 11,100 are students enrolled at the University of Wyoming-Laramie for the 2022 school year making the student-to-resident ratio quite high. The result of this means a plethora of jobs are created for the community through these two academic institutions and brings a youthful atmosphere to a small and quaint community. Many western-style bars and clubs call downtown Laramie home and delicious restaurants such as Lovejoy's Bar & Grill and Altitude Chophouse & Brewery benefit greatly from the student population of the beautiful college town of Laramie.

Bozeman, Montana

Downtown scenic view of Bozeman, Montana with snow covered land
Aerial view of downtown Bozeman. Image credit Leif D via Shutterstock.

For those who enjoy a laid-back vibe, western-style pubs, cowboy hats, and the natural beauty of the rocky mountains, Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana might just do the trick. Bozeman is an excellent option for students searching for weekend escapes from the bustling city to focus on their studies or get in touch with nature. Bozeman is the fourth largest city in the sparse, yet beautiful, state of Montana renowned for the state's natural parks such as the infamous Yellowstone National Park. This park alone may be enough to entice students to learn in this underrated state! Imagine a long week of studying but then spending the weekend camping in the gorgeous Yellowstone National Park. A perfect backdrop to spend the college years. Do not forget to enjoy a drink and delicious meal at an authentic western-style pub owned by residents!  

Tempe, Arizona

The Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.
The Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium - Arizona State University. Image credit BD Images via Shutterstock.

Home to some of the best universities in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona, Tempe is proud to be the residence of amazing schools such as Arizona State University, The University of Phoenix, Brookline College, Rio Saldo Community College, and Bryan University. The exceptional Arizona State University is renowned for its plethora of disciplines and innovations. Most notably, Arizona State has made significant strides in the field of science including advancing the knowledge of certain cancers, business management research, and population science---perfect for students with an interest in these subjects.

Tempe is also one of the most densely populated cities in the state and provides regular bus service through Valley Metro, as well as rail service through Valley Metro Rail, connecting downtown Tempe and Arizona State University, offering transportation to Phoenix and Mesa! The easily traversable city of Tempe operates a free neighborhood circulator service known as Orbit which involves five free shuttle routes near Arizona State University which operates consistently, seven days a week. The accessibility of public transit makes it much easier for students who cannot afford the costs and responsibilities of owning a car, making student life much more convenient than in rural, car-dependent cities. On top of great transit and great universities, Tempe is host to a plethora of fantastic nightlife opportunities, featuring a plethora of food service, bartending, and other part-time weekend jobs for those who need some extra cash during their college experience. Some clubs, bars, and restaurants include Skysill Rooftop Lounge, Glow Tempe, Yucca Tap Room, Aura, Miss Cue Club, Sunbar Tempe, and more!

Henderson, Nevada

 Night view of the beautiful Emerald Island Casino in Water Street District in Henderson
Nightlife in Henderson, Nevada. Image credit Kit Leong via Shutterstock.

Big cat sanctuaries, Lake Mead, and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area are not all that the beautiful desert city of Henderson in the silver state of Nevada has to offer! This unique city has some top-notch universities to attract young newcomers into this great city's diverse culture, blessed with year-round hot weather and economic opportunity! The magnificent universities and colleges which call Henderson home include Nevada State College, National University, Roseman University of Health Sciences, and Touro University Nevada. With tourism being popular in Henderson, to begin with, combined with the added youthful vibe of college students, Henderson has a nightlife to match. Boasting several clubs, restaurants, and bars such as Club Madrid, Drop Bar, Gold Mine Tavern, and Chinitas Tapas & Sushi, there is no lack of amenities here!

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake city capitol building and surrounding neighborhood.
Salt Lake city capitol building and surrounding neighborhood. Image credit Rigucci via Shutterstock.

Home to Utah's second largest university, The University of Utah in Salt Lake City is the perfect city to relocate to begin college and start an academic career. The greater Salt Lake City Area also includes Provo and Ogden, which are home to Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University. With an enrollment of 41,262 in Ogden, it is the largest university in Utah. Salt Lake City is Utah's economic hub being the largest city and state capital. All these enticing traits make Salt Lake City an excellent destination for students seeking to make connections and establish a successful career in a city with opportunity. One feature which greatly benefits students is the fact the SLC area was ranked as the third best in the nation for public transit, connecting residents to jobs, with a whopping 59% of people using public transit! This is done through public transit options such as buses, light rail, and a commuter rail line! Of course, transit also leads to the bustling SLC nightlife, which is full of exciting nightclubs, delicious downtown restaurants, and bars all complete with the perfect ambiance!


After discovering so many impressive communities home to the best of the best universities, the Rockies may take the cake when it comes to the best place to pursue post-secondary studies! The breathtaking mix of natural mountainous beauty just on the outskirts of thriving cities makes it almost a no-brainer when considering the Rockies! Each state in this carefully curated list all have its own unique features, whether students are looking for a low-density state with four seasons, or a booming city in the desert, the Rockies has it all!

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