Our Favorite Mountain Towns in Colorado
Marble, Colorado is a town rich with history. Although the population today is only about 100 people, it once had a population in the thousands in the early 20th century, when marble (the stone) was discovered here. A lot of the statues and architecture around the Unites States was built with marble from this town, and it’s impressive to see various slabs of all sizes sprinkled around town.
Things to do in Marble
One of the top reasons visitors flock to this town is to see the iconic Crystal Mill. It’s accessible by a long and gnarly 4×4 road that stretches for 4 miles along the side of a mountain. There are jeep tours that can take you up there, but I think the view is most rewarding if you do the full 8 mile hike in and out. The residents of the town have been petitioning for a permit system to reduce the number of OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles) that drive this path since it’s damaging the road, so I’m fully supportive of putting in the effort and hiking there on your own instead!
Where to stay in Marble
Since Marble is such a small town, there aren’t too many options. We found this really nice Airbnb which had everything we needed and had private access to Crystal river. We had the full bottom 2-bedroom unit to ourselves with a private entrance and a patio.
Crested Butte, Colorado
It is no secret that Crested Butte is one of the most stunning places in all of Colorado. It is also the wildflower capital of the state and hosts the annual weeklong Wildflower Festival in the summer to celebrate the colorful bloom of hundreds of different wildflowers.
Every turn is another gorgeous mountain view with a river or a creek or a lake. There is lots of dispersed camping, as well as paid and reservable campsites.
This is one of my favorite towns. It’s the gateway to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but it has so much more to offer than just that.
Things to do in Crawford with Kids
Crawford is a sleepy little town full of farmland and surrounding mountains. It’s home to Needle Rock Natural Area, which is visible from pretty much anywhere in Crawford. The hike up to the top is only 0.8 miles with a 500′ elevation but has a nice view of Crawford.
Crawford State Park has a large lake for boating, Stand Up Paddling and whatever other water activities you enjoy doing! There’s beach access as well as picnic tables and lots of space. At night it’s also a beautiful spot to stargaze! Check out this post for tips on how to photograph the Night Sky.
Where to stay in Crawford
This is also a very small town and the Airbnb options are limited. We’ve stayed here twice and this Airbnb was our favorite. It’s a spacious 2-bedroom lower unit with a private entrance. There’s a beautiful patio right outside the private entrance with outdoor furniture where we had all of our meals while deer walked around us and we enjoyed the view of Needle Rock.
Things to do in Lake City with Kids
We accidentally stumbled on this town while driving through during a road trip and ended up spending a full day here at Lake Fork Memorial Park. There’s a creek that runs through the entire town with access to the water and spots for kids to splash and dip their feet in. There’s a large playground, coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries and lots of beautiful hikes.
There’s also a fairly large waterfall not too far from Lake City that you should not miss. This is a lookout with some picnic tables and shouldn’t take too long but definitely worth a visit if you’re here!
Where to stay in Lake City
Ouray is a town usually referred to as the “Switzerland of America”. We’ve been to both, can confirm. The town is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, caves, hot springs, old mining routes for off-roading and has spectacular fall foliage. It’s become quite the hotspot for tourists and lodging prices have skyrocketed. I would highly recommend making this a day or half-day trip in order to avoid overpaying and the crowds.
One of Ouray’s top attractions is Box Canyon Falls. There’s an entry fee of 5$ to get in to the lower and upper falls, and the trails are only about .3 miles roundtrip each (upper and lower). Lower Box Canyon Falls take you into the cave and right up to the water where the falls end up. The photo above is the final view you will get from this section. Upper Box Canyon Falls takes you above the cave and has a beautiful arial view of Ouray, as well as the falls from above.
Where to stay in Ouray
Here are some Airbnb options for staying in Ouray. You can also check out spots in nearby towns of Portland and Ridgeway if Ouray accommodation is sold out.
Telluride is fairly similar to Ouray in appearance but is a lot more well known nationally and internationally. It’s home to so many art and music festivals like En Plein Air and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival to name a few. I cover Telluride in a bit more detail in our Weekend Trips from Denver post.
Aspen is one of my favorite Colorado towns; me and all the other 34095809823 tourists that flock here every year. The fall foliage here is tough to beat, Maroon Bells is breath taking and the town itself is so charming!
Here are some fun things to do in Aspen with Kids.
Nestled in the bottom of the San Juan Mountains, Durango is known for its Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This steam-powered train starts in Durango and takes you through stunning mountain vistas all the way to the historic mining town of Silverton.
Things to do in Durango
Most visitors to Durango are here to take a ride on the historic year-round, steam-powered train. It is especially memorable for kids in the winter, when this train turns into the Polar Express and takes you through a LED-lit forest with Santa coming through the cabins to greet all the passengers.
Aside from the train, Durango’s Main Avenue is a Nationally Registered Historic District. It is home to galleries, restaurants, bars, boutiques and more.
It’s also home to one of the coolest playgrounds I’ve seen around Colorado. This photo does not do it justice, but I can assure you our kids spent a full day playing here! There are also musical instrument stations in this park with xylophones and other percussion instruments that anyone can use.
Durango is also a great place to stay for visiting Mesa Verde National Park.
Crestone is a town in Saguache County, right at the foot of Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. The Crestone region includes an array of different world religions such as Tibetan Buddhist, Hindu, Carmelite and a variety of New Age religions.
We love this town for its hospitality, unique architecture and dark skies. We also use it as a home base for visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park since it’s only about an hour drive away.
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