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Mountain Towns

Below you will see Steve's personal comments and opinions on some of the towns located throughout Colorado. Please remember that the opinion you see here is tainted with the view of a ski bum's perspective thus the frowning upon touristy places and the fondness for the quaint, off the beaten track sort of towns. And by the way, I've been to all of the towns you see below - and more!

Alamosa
Close to the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and the San Luis Valley. The Sangre de Cristos are particularly beautiful at sunset and the Sand Dunes are located a short drive northeast of town.

Aspen
Lots of $$$, lots of history, beautiful mountains and lots of culture. Definitely worth a visit!

Buena Vista
Where you will want to HQ should you desire to play around in the Collegiate Peaks area. I hear there's good food in this town but I haven't found it yet.

Colorado Springs
While Pike's Peak is impressive looming over the town, heading out of town to the road to the summit can be pretty touristy. Garden of the Gods is beautiful but I find it to be quite small and worth a visit of only an hour or less unless you plan to do some techincal climbing on the rocks.

Cortez
Probably the biggest town close to Mesa Verde as well as the Four-Corners area of the state. Somewhat touristy but remote enough to still be kind of cool.

Creede
One of my favorites! Although I have only driven through town and only stopped for a moment, this is a town you have to see to believe. I'll be back!

Denver
Great up and coming US city - small enough to be manageable but big enough to provide lots of cultural options! Denver is a great place to get used to the elevation before heading to the high country.

Durango
Touristy college town but worth a quick view or layover for a shower. Located on the south side of the San Juans it can provide you with easy access to some beautiful and rugged terrain.

Estes Park
Beautiful town but very touristy. I think this is what has evolved for people that want to experience the mountains without actually experiencing the mountains - in other words - for those that don't want to get out of their cars. Estes is a good jumping off point for hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park but look out for crowds - especially in the summer months.

Fruita
Dinasaurs and mountain bikes. That's what Fruita wants to be known for but it's really more of a Moab (Utah) wannabe and it's becoming more popular every year. Fruita is also the western gateway to the Colorado National Monument and the last good place to get gas and fast-food if you're heading west out of the state on I-70.

Georgetown
Touristy - but with a historic charm. The nearby Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Railroad is a great trip with the kids, and the road up out of town towards Guanella Pass feels like you're going straight up if you look back down on the town. [Keep your eyes on the road please.]

Glenwood Springs
Touristy but still a somewhat affordable option. Lots of history in the Hotel Colorado as well as throughout town. Be sure to visit the world's largest outdoor hot springs right in town and while you're there you should take a trip through Glenwood Canyon on your bike or blades.

Grand Junction
Nice layover type of town (college and retirement town). Take a drive up to the top of the Grand Mesa (as a local for directions) east of town and find "Land's End" overlooking Grand Junction. It is a beautiful drive and you should be able to find plenty or short or long hikes while on top. Grand Junction locals will try to point you to the Colorado National Monument but this may be somewhat disappointing if you are familiar with Utah and the Canyonlands/Arches/Moab area.

Grand Lake
Beautiful town and even more beautiful lake! All of it is tucked neatly into the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park and this side of the park tends to see fewer visitors than on the east side over by Estes Park.

Idaho Springs
Not much hiking right here but it is the gateway to Mount Evans and also a great place to stop for food or gas on your way to or from the mountains. Be sure to check out the old downtown.

Lake City
See where Colorado's only accused cannibal (Alfred Packer) did his supposed dirty deeds. Virtually nothing open in the winter but well worth a stop in the summer as it is tucked neatly into the northern side of the San Juans (big, rugged mountains). Be sure to visit the Slumgullian Slide half-way up the pass.

Leadville
Another favorite of mine! Historic old mountain town - the highest incorporated city in the Continental US. Be sure to visit Wild Bill's for a burger or Cloud City Coffee for a latte (they open at 6:00 a.m.).

Marble
A must see near the headwaters of the Crystal River. Be sure to visit the old marble mill virtually right downtown!

Meeker
Great access to the rolling hills on the northern side of the Flat Tops and the Flat Tops Wilderness. This is sheep country and once a year they have an internationally renown sheep dog competition (lots of Border Collies and other herding breeds) - I understand it's really something to see.

Minturn
It's not Vail!

Nederland
Funky little town in the foothills west of Boulder. I think that maybe this is where all of the old-time Boulderites went when Boulder priced out their locals. There's good access to the Indian Peaks from here.

Ouray
Although Ouray ( prounounced "your-ray" or "you-RAY" ) can be touristy in the summer time it is still worth a visit. Located smack dab in the middle of Switzerland of America it provides easy access to some of the most rugged mountains in the state - the San Juans.

Paonia
Not much there really - just small-town Colorado but still worth a quick drive through.

Pueblo
Which part of Kansas were you looking for?

Redstone
Toursity but definitely worth a visit. Redstone has evolved from an old mining camp into a bedroom community for Aspen with the added benefit of mom-and-pop artsy and craft-type stores. Be sure to visit the Redstone Castle if it's open.

Ridgeway
I'm going to retire here if the Telluride exiles don't ruin it first. Great views of the San Juans to the south.

Salida
Easy access to the Collegiate Range - home to Ed Quillen (author and columnist for the Denver Post) - one of Colorado's greatest resident writers.

Silverton
There are only two ways into town and sometimes in the winter both are closed. Silverton is where the Durango and Silverton railroad has it's northern terminous and it can be touristy in the summer but once the trains leave it quiets down. Easy access to the San Juans.

Steamboat Springs
Nice, typical Ski town with an old downtown separated from the ski area by a couple of miles. The mountains aren't as tall or rugged in this part of the state but it is still beautiful. Be sure to check out the Strawberry Hot Springs (ask a local for directions). Say "Hi" to Walter for me when you are there. ;-)

Stoner
Basically just a wide spot in the road north of Cortez towards Lizard Head Pass but I couldn't resist mentioning it here!

Telluride
Another ski town out of control. Located near the end of a HUGE box canyon you will feel dwarfed when visiting here.

Vail
Skip the town (it's only a wide spot in Interstate 70) and head up into the Gore Range instead. The town of Vail is so out of control (development wise) that several years back the mayor has resigned over the petty bickering and NIMBYism going on. [It's the only place you'll ever visit where even the service employees have an attitude - see the EXAMPLE.]

Woodland Park
There are some great views of Pikes Peak from just about anywhere in this town which due to tremendous growth in the state has recently become more of a suburb of Colorado Springs than the tourist destination it once was. Great access to Pike National Forest.



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