Telluride, Colorado. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

The Rockies Best Small Towns For A Weekend Escape

The Rocky Mountains, stretching over 3,000 miles from Canada to New Mexico, are one of North America's largest mountain ranges. They feature diverse ecosystems, ranging from alpine tundra to dense forests, and are home to numerous national parks and protected areas. The Rockies are also home to small towns that are perfect for a weekend away due to their outdoor recreational opportunities and scenic beauty. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing, making these ten towns ideal for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Jasper, Alberta

The beautiful town of Jasper, Alberta
The beautiful town of Jasper, Alberta. Editorial credit: Shawn.ccf /

Jasper, Alberta, is a town located within Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Established in 1907, the town was initially a railway hub and has since become a major destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Jasper's geography is characterized by rugged mountains, dense forests, and lakes. For a weekend getaway, stay at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a luxurious lodge with views of the Canadian Rockies on the shores of Lac Beauvert.

Athabasca Falls is a powerful waterfall on the Athabasca River, known for its impressive force and the deep canyon it has carved over millennia. The falls are accessible via walking trails and viewing platforms. Miette Hot Springs is known for having the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies, with waters reaching up to 54°C (129°F) before being cooled to a comfortable temperature for soaking. The facility includes pools surrounded by mountainous terrain. The Jasper SkyTram is the highest and longest guided aerial tramway in Canada, transporting visitors to an elevation of 2,277 meters (7,470 feet) above sea level. At the top, visitors can explore hiking trails and see various interpretive exhibits about the region's geology and wildlife.

Golden, British Columbia

Train passing by the town of Golden, British Columbia.
Train passing by the town of Golden, British Columbia. Editorial credit: Roxana Gonzalez /

Golden, British Columbia, is a town in the Columbia Valley, surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains. Established in the late 19th century during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Golden played a role in the development of the region's transportation and trade. The town's geography features rugged mountain terrain, forests, and the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers, making it a place for adventure tourism. When visiting Golden, Emerald Lake Lodge is an option; located in Yoho National Park, it provides a mountain escape with cozy accommodations and lake views.

Yoho National Park has a variety of natural attractions, including Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada's highest waterfalls, and the Natural Bridge, a rock formation carved by the Kicking Horse River. The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre focuses on the conservation and education of wolves, with guided tours that provide insight into the behavior and ecology of these animals. The Golden & District Museum showcases the history and heritage of Golden and its surrounding areas through exhibits on the town's railway past, local industries, and the lives of its early settlers.

Crested Butte, Colorado

The charming town of Crested Butte, Colorado
The charming town of Crested Butte, Colorado. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Crested Butte, Colorado, is a historic town in the Rocky Mountains, originally established as a mining community in the late 19th century. Its history includes periods of coal and silver mining, which later transitioned into a ski resort and outdoor recreation destination. The town is characterized by its preserved Victorian architecture and its setting in the Gunnison Valley. For a weekend in Crested Butte, choose The Ruby of Crested Butte, a bed and breakfast that combines Victorian elegance with modern comforts for a mountain getaway.

Gunnison National Forest spans over a million acres and has diverse landscapes, including dense forests, alpine meadows, and rugged peaks. The forest is home to numerous hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and vistas. The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum looks at the town's transformation from a mining hub to a popular ski destination, with exhibits that highlight local history, culture, and significant events. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, known for its steep cliffs and narrow canyon walls lets visitors explore one of North America's most significant natural formations.

Jackson, Wyoming

Ski slopes in Jackson, Wyoming.
Ski slopes in Jackson, Wyoming. Editorial credit: WitGorski /

Jackson, Wyoming, is a town in the Jackson Hole valley, surrounded by the majestic Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges, subregions of the Rockies. Established in the late 19th century as a frontier town, Jackson has evolved into a gateway for outdoor recreation and tourism. The town's geography includes wide valleys, mountain peaks, and the winding Snake River. To experience Jackson in style, book a stay at Amangani, an upscale resort that offers views of the Grand Tetons, luxurious accommodations, and quality service.

Grand Teton National Park encompasses the Teton Range, known for its peaks, alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Visitors can explore the park's trail system, enjoy drives along Teton Park Road, and take in vistas from various viewpoints. The National Elk Refuge, established in 1912, provides a winter habitat for thousands of elk. During the winter months, visitors can observe large herds of elk and learn about their migration patterns and behavior. The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum has exhibits on the history and culture of Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone area.

Whitefish, Montana

The Main Street in Whitefish, Montana
The Main Street in Whitefish, Montana. Editorial credit: Beeldtype /

Whitefish, Montana, is a town in the Rocky Mountains near the western edge of Glacier National Park. Established in the early 20th century as a logging and railroad town, Whitefish has transitioned into yet another destination for outdoor recreation and tourism. The town is situated by Whitefish Lake and is surrounded by forests and mountain ranges. If you're planning a weekend in Whitefish, consider The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, a lakeside resort with views, a full-service spa, and close proximity to Glacier National Park.

Whitefish Lake State Park is a popular spot for relaxation and recreation, with opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking on the shores of Whitefish Lake. Flathead National Forest covers over two million acres, with extensive trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding through diverse ecosystems, including alpine meadows, forests, and glacial valleys. The Stumptown Historical Museum provides insights into the town's history, with exhibits about its early days.

Banff, Alberta

The gorgeous town of Banff, Alberta
The gorgeous town of Banff, Alberta. Editorial credit: Nick Fox /

Banff, Alberta, is a town located within Banff National Park, the first national park established in Canada in 1885. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Banff has a history tied to its development as a resort destination and its role in the conservation of natural landscapes. The town's geography features mountain peaks, dense forests, and hot springs. For a weekend in Banff, stay at Fairmont Banff Springs. Known as the "Castle in the Rockies," this hotel has mountain views and a rich history.

Banff Gondola takes visitors to the top of Sulphur Mountain, where they can experience panoramic views of the surrounding Rockies and the Bow Valley. Cave and Basin National Historic Site marks the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, with exhibits and interactive displays that tell the story of the park's creation and the discovery of the hot springs. Johnston Canyon is a scenic hike through a canyon with boardwalks leading to multiple waterfalls and rock formations.

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Downtown Revelstoke, British Columbia
Downtown Revelstoke, British Columbia. Editorial credit: christopher babcock /

Revelstoke, British Columbia, is a town in the Columbia Mountains. Established in the late 19th century, Revelstoke played a significant role in the development of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which contributed to the town's economic prosperity. The town's geography is characterized by its mountainous terrain, forests, and proximity to the Columbia River. During your Revelstoke visit, The Sutton Place Hotel is an excellent choice; this ski-in/ski-out hotel is located at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Mount Revelstoke National Park is home to the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, a drive that takes visitors through various elevations to wildflower-filled meadows and offers access to numerous hiking trails. The Revelstoke Railway Museum showcases the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, with exhibits and artifacts that highlight its construction, operation, and the impact it had on the region. The Giant Cedars Boardwalk is a serene walk among ancient cedar trees to learn about the area's ecosystem.

Telluride, Colorado

Colorado Avenue in Telluride, Colorado
Colorado Avenue in Telluride, Colorado. Editorial credit: Nick Fox /

Telluride, Colorado, is a historic town in the San Juan Mountains, originally established as a mining camp in the late 19th century. The town played a role during the Colorado Gold Rush, attracting miners and settlers to the region. Its geography includes steep mountain slopes, deep valleys, and the San Miguel River, which flows through the town. For a weekend in Telluride, opt for The Hotel Telluride, a boutique hotel with cozy, well-appointed rooms, exceptional service, and easy access to skiing and downtown.

Telluride Historical Museum gives a comprehensive look at the town's history, including its mining heritage, notable events, and transformation into a premier ski destination. Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall, can be accessed by hiking or driving. It has views and is a connection to the area's natural beauty. The San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway is a route that takes travelers through the San Juan Mountains, offering vistas, historic mining towns, and a glimpse into the rugged landscape that defines this region of Colorado.

Kimberley, British Columbia

Northstar Mountain Village Resort in Kimberley, British Columbia.
Northstar Mountain Village Resort in Kimberley, British Columbia. Editorial credit: Walle.photpgraphy /

Kimberley, British Columbia, is a town in the East Kootenay region, known for its roots in mining and its mountain setting. Established in the early 20th century, Kimberley grew around the Sullivan Mine, one of the world's largest lead and zinc mines. The town's geography includes the Purcell Mountains, forests, and the St. Mary River. If you're heading to Kimberley, stay at Polaris Lodge, located at the base of the Kimberley Alpine Resort. It has ski-in/ski-out convenience and suites.

The Kimberley Underground Mining Railway includes a guided tour through an old mine, where visitors can learn about the town’s rich mining history and see historical mining equipment. Cominco Gardens, established by the mining company, is a serene setting with well-maintained gardens and a variety of plant species. North Star Mountain has trails for hiking and biking to explore the natural landscape and enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains.

Estes Park, Colorado

The historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Editorial credit: Phillip Rubino /

Estes Park, Colorado, is a town at the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, established in the late 19th century as a resort destination. The town's history is intertwined with its development as a gateway to the Rockies, drawing visitors with its landscapes and outdoor opportunities. Estes Park sits in a valley surrounded by towering mountains, with the Big Thompson River running through it. For a weekend in Estes Park, The Stanley Hotel is a must; known for its architecture, views, and a mix of classic and modern amenities.

Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses a range of mountains, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife. Here, visitors can explore trails and witness the beauty of the Rockies. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in North America. It has beautiful views as it traverses the park, reaching elevations over 12,000 feet. Bear Lake, an alpine lake surrounded by peaks, is home to several hiking trails that allow visitors to enjoy the waters and mountain scenery.

In Summary

In summary, the Rocky Mountains offer a variety of small towns ideal for a weekend getaway. In towns like Jasper, Alberta, visitors can immerse themselves in the splendor of Jasper National Park, indulging in relaxation and adventure with attractions like Athabasca Falls and Miette Hot Springs. Golden, British Columbia, has a rugged charm with access to Yoho National Park's breathtaking falls and bridges, while Crested Butte, Colorado, provides a picturesque setting for exploring Gunnison National Forest and experiencing the town’s historical museums. Each of these ten towns is uniquely positioned to offer a blend of outdoor excitement and cultural depth.

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