The Rockies enormous mountain range encompasses 4,800 sq. km of area in western North America, with discontinuous mountain ranges. The core of the Rocky Mountains formed over a billion years ago when tectonic plates collided and raised the continental crust, with subsequent glacial erosion, to the various heights you see today. Each range features distinctive geological characteristics that have evolved since, offering diverse adventures and views through every season. The rugged peaks are dreamy for climbers, while different sections have been developed into winter resorts for skiing and snowboarding.
Visit these towns in the foothills of the marvelous range for some cool snow shredding, sightseeing hikes along distinctive formations, and natural wonders strewn throughout the diverse areas of the Rockies. Enjoy alpine vistas right from downtown at high altitudes. Visit in summer to lounge along the alpine lakes with refreshing post-hike dips and chill with a beer in hand over a campfire or at a bar in the evening. These towns meet the demand for the endless string of visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park with shopping options, delectable dining, and stylish hotels.
Cañon City, Colorado
Cañon City is a small town in Colorado, with the famed Royal Gorge Bridge and Park spanning the vast Arkansas River from a height of over 1,000 feet above the waters. The highest suspension bridge in America and the park attract plentiful tourists for cool sights and chilling out in nature. Peruse the trails for recreation and attractions and let go of your worries over a theater performance at the park's venue, thrilling rides, and other family entertainment, while the kids can go monkey in the play area. Cañon City spreads along the foothills with views of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountain range, shadowing your daily ventures.
The town is full of interesting sights that span over 150 years of history since its establishment in 1860. Originally excavated for mineral deposits, the mighty Arkansas River had a hand in shaping its iconic ten-mile steep "Royal Gorge" canyon in granite. Take a train ride alongside for the best scenery from the comfort of your seat on this railoard, once part of a real transcontinental route from 1877 until it turned into a tourist attraction. The refreshing hikes and mountain air will reenergize you on a weekend getaway from the city. Take on the whitewater rapids at Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer, or Boat Eater and visit Colorado Springs, just over an hour away.
Grand Lake, Colorado
The small town of Grand Lake, with its unbeatable lakeside setting, is the place to let go of the everyday. Visit anytime to immerse yourself in the chill vibes along the streets and year-round recreational activities along the foothills. Come in winter to this "Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado" for an adrenaline kick and try snowshoeing at the park and nordic skiing at Grand Lake Nordic Center.
Grand Lake is your ultimate summertime gateway to the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, with animal sightings like bugling elk in the fall. There is mountain biking, scenic hikes along the slopes, or catching a thrill ATV or OHV ride for an unforgettable experience of the mountainous outdoors. Enjoy classic lakeside pursuits under the sun and water sports along the state's largest natural lake during the summer, along with Grand Lake's signature 4th of July Extravaganza and Grand Lake Regatta Week.
Marquette, a lively college town with cozy vibes, is a real polestar on the frigid shores of Lake Superior. Visit this small town with big-time views and the best thrills to achieve your ultimate chill. Take on the steep Marquette Mountain with a pair of skis or a snowboard in winter, when it receives over 200 inches of snow during the long, cold season. Enjoy endless cross-country trails on a summer hike and fat-tire biking through over 75 miles of groomed trails around Marquette.
The town boasts a renown apres-ski foodie scene with great restaurants and craft beer spots after countless rides up the three chairlifts for chill snow shredding along the 600-foot vertical rise mountain. Yoopers is the famously hardcore yet friendly establishment for chillaxing with a local beer, among other breweries to chill out in the valley like Blackrocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewing Company, Drifa Brewing, and Barrel & Beam.
Chill out lakeside party style in this one-of-a-kind town in central Idaho. It is a local spring break secret gem along the picturesque Payette Lake shores that recently caused a ban on alcohol on the popular North Beach but remains hidden from the crowds even during the summertime. Don't worry, you can visit this stunning lakeside resort town any season for recreation and the local suds, and chill out along the shores of the showstopper for summertime water pursuits and vibrant Mardi Gras parades.
The downtown area rimming the "mini-Tahoe-esque" Lake McCall is a real chill place. Enjoy romantic strolls along the Old West-style buildings, reflecting their sturdy and statuesque shapes into the crisp alpine lake surface. Venture to the nearby Ponderosa State Park for a serene hike and one-on-one time in natural beauty or a whitewater rafting adventure along the scenic Salmon River, and chill out to the bucolic views from a cruise along the lake at sunset. Come back during the holiday season for some real chill times like snow shredding at the nearby ski resorts and rolling snow sculptures at the Winter Carnival.
The sweet Idaho town of Stanley is a picture of cuteness, nestled wistfully among the daring spikes of the Rocky Mountain subrange, the Sawtooth Mountains. Take in the views of this little sun-drenched oasis from anywhere in the surrounding scenic Sawtooth Valley on a summer vacation. The crisp air from the unadulating range and 300 alpine lakes offer refreshing hikes and dips along the foothills with 700 miles of trails across the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Join the fun-loving western town at one of the annual events celebrating the spunky spirit of this charming Gem State's frontier through the years and on a blast-from-the-past Thursday night dance. Cast a line with a new local friend from the beautiful shores of the telling and bountiful Salmon River and chill out at Redfish Lake Lodge's Sunday evening concerts on the front lodge.
Taos, New Mexico
This unique desert community in north-central New Mexico hangs on to a branch range of the Rockies, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos is full of sights to chill out along the aesthetic and cultural streets, with a thriving artist scene across galleries, music venues, and shops with authentic craft and trickets. Enjoy mountain views on your daily strolls and plenty of outdoor recreation in the summer. Choose from Tao's four ski areas in the winter: Red River, Taos Ski Valley, Sipapu, and Angel Fire, or try snowshoeing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. There are numerous hot springs along the Rio Grande and Taos Mountains, dominated by Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet (4,011 meters), a real climber's spot to chill along its steep slopes.
Chill out at the Taos Pueblo, a Native American dwelling continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years by the Pueblo people. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark offers deep history and a cultural evolution right in front of your eyes, along with traditional indigenous art. Immerse yourself in local culture at the Taos Plaza, and check out the San Francisco de Asis Church, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and the cool Taos Earthships for memorable snapshots. It is also the place to chill out during the stunning sunset with fiery tones across the sky above the village amid the mountains.
Buena Vista, Colorado
This little mountain town in Colorado delivers big-time chills. Come in the summer for some of the best nature ventures in the state in Buena Vista, pronounced "Bewna Vista." With an endless variety of outdoor activities for all tastes, groups, and levels, you can summit a 14er in the Sawatch Range, lounge lakeside with alpine vistas, or raft through the scenic Browns Canyon. Visit to really chill out during the winter holidays over some snow shredding down the slopes.
The peaky views will follow you through the year-round choice of pursuits, and the delectable food scene will have you drooling over unforgettable burgers, BBQ, and pizza that you can wash down with a local brew at Eddyline, a favorite taproom and restaurant in town. Chill free of charge at the many no-fee camping grounds around, or check into one of the hotels like Cottonwood Pass to chill in style and comfort.
Choose a mountain town within the Rockies region to chill out from summer to winter. Visit one of the most popular Colorado towns or seek the seemingly alien range in the vast desertscape of New Mexico to chill among a distinctively scenic culture. This enormous mountain system in the Northern American Cordillera peaks at the Rocky Mountains' Mount Elbert (4,401m) and Mount Harvard (4,395m). The towns in the creases along the slopes are sparsely populated, with an average density of four people per square km, but they see tens of thousands of annual visitors.
The range was born from a collision of the Farallon Plate and the North American Plate. The former subducted at a shallow angle with friction, piling crust into the extensive and irregularly shaped range of mountains. The Rockies span from northern British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the United States of America, through Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. Immerse yourself in the mountainside lifestyle with year-round festivals and events, along with a local vibe and culture unique to each.