Colorado

Beautiful Places in Colorado: 8 Places in the Centennial State You Need to Explore

Colorado's beauty goes above and beyond. Here are 8 beautiful places in Colorado you need to explore, from mountain towns to sand dunes to fields of grapes.

Choosing Colorado’s most beautiful places to escape is no easy task. The Centennial State is filled with Hollywood movie worthy natural backdrops. There are 52 mountains over 14,000-feet-high and much of Colorado’s beauty is tied to this landscape.

From remote box canyon towns like Telluride and Ouray to more known base-of-the mountain beauties like Boulder and Snowmass, Colorado has a lot of Rocky Mountain scenery. But the state also has a few other beautiful places likely to straight up surprise you. Read on to learn about Colorado’s thriving wine country and its towering mountains of sand.

Telluride: Box Canyon Beauty with Stellar Skiing

Telluride is a remote mountain town in an absolutely stunning box canyon at the base of the jagged San Juan Mountains. In summer, it’s famous for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, as well as golfing, cycling and hiking. In winter, it’s known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding.

The town of Telluride dates back to the 1800s Gold Rush days, and is filled with well preserved Victorian-era buildings now housing shops and restaurants. A free gondola connects the town with Mountain Village, where the ski resort is.

Pay a visit to Wagner Custom Skis located adjacent to the ski slopes. The factory offers free tours in winter and is the original custom ski manufacturer in Colorado. Each pair of skis is handcrafted to match your skill, riding style and body shape. Even if you don’t buy, learning about the technology is fascinating.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Telluride

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Located in the heart of Mountain Village, Madeline Hotel and Residences is a beautiful property with ski-in, ski-out access and a winter ski valet. In summer, you can ride the gondola directly into the historic downtown. Book one of the residences, which come with full kitchens and, in some cases, extras like decadent steam showers. The heated swimming pool, duel hot tubs and onsite spa are extra perks. The house restaurant, Black Iron, does an excellent burger – including a plant-based option.

Madeline Hotel and Residences

Top rated
Telluride
9.2 Excellent (1100 reviews)

Grand Valley: Colorado Wine Country

You might not associate wine production with Colorado, but this is a state with a lot of tricks up its sleeve. Near the border with Utah, the red rock landscape in what is known as the Grand Valley is prime for growing grapes. There are 27 wineries and vineyards around the anchor towns of Grand Junction and Palisade (also famous for its peaches). Spend a day sipping vino in the various tasting rooms while soaking up the crimson cliff and mesa scenery that makes this one of Colorado’s most beautiful destinations.

Besides wine, this region is also home to the Colorado National Monument, which showcases more stunning red rock scenery. There are hundreds of miles of world class, single track mountain biking trails around Grand Junction as well. If you don’t have your own ride, you can rent a bike from Brown Cycles in Grand Junction — they offer everything from full suspension mountain bikes to comfy cruisers. Exploring the area’s vineyards by bicycle is another popular experience.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Grand Junction

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Hotel Maverick is a new boutique hotel in Grand Junction. The rooms and suites have a modern mountain vibe with wood accents. The hotel is pet friendly and the rooftop restaurant, Devil’s Kitchen, serves up fresh farm-to-table fare. Guests can also borrow bikes.

Hotel Maverick

Grand Junction
9.3 Excellent (283 reviews)

Ouray: Million Dollar Views

The small town of Ouray is in a narrow canyon surrounded by rugged mountains that offer some of Colorado’s most phenomenal views. The town is famed for its hot mineral springs and 4WD (snowmobile) trails, as well as ice-climbing in winter.

It is also the starting or ending point of one of America’s most beautiful scenic drives: The Million Dollar Highway. The road is US Route 550 and the prettiest part goes between Ouray and Silverton. The 23-mile stretch crosses Red Mountain Pass (beware – there are no guardrails) and there are numerous beautiful places to pull-off along the route. Silverton is another old mining town that makes for a great lunch stop.

Back in Ouray, make sure to grab a drink at the just opened Imogene Hotel and Rooftop Bar. The boutique property has just six rooms and the best rooftop bar in town, with craft cocktails and stunning views. When it is time for soaking, check out Orvis Hot Springs, about 10 minutes away outside the town of Ridgeway. It has multiple natural pools of varying temps and clothing is optional.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Ouray

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Owned and run by a friendly couple, Amber and Jason Perkins, Ouray RV Park & Cabins features a mix of cabin rentals as well as RV sites open year-round. The wood cabins are simple and comfortable, and come with river views from private porches. Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast at the onsite restaurant. They serve the best green chili in Ouray and are known for their huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos. On weekend nights, they do a $25 prime rib or fish special that includes sides and dessert.

Ouray Rv Park & Cabins

Ouray
8.8 Excellent (69 reviews)

Boulder: Classic College Town with Striking Scenery

Just about 45 minutes northwest of Denver, and easy to access from Denver International Airport, is Boulder. This classic Colorado college town (it is home to the University of Colorado Boulder) sits at the base of the Flatirons – a striking set of jagged rocks rising from the plains. There are many hiking and biking trails around Boulder and rock climbing is also popular.

Boulder’s heart is the four-block long Pearl Street Mall, which is pedestrian-only and filled with boutique shops, bars and restaurants. There are often street performances and if you just want to people watch, benches are scattered along the red brick pathway.

While in Boulder, grab a meal at the Dushanbe Tea House, one of the most unique restaurants around. Right on Boulder Creek with lots of outdoor seating, the tea house was a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The exquisite patterned tile and carved wood façade was built by hand without the use of power tools in Dushanbe, then dissembled and sent to Boulder, where it was reconstructed. You can book a traditional English style afternoon tea service, complete with three-story tower of sweet and savory treats. They also do a full lunch and dinner menu.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Boulder

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Hotel St Julien is an elegant luxury hotel in a central downtown location. The rooms and suites have a romantic ambiance, with four-poster beds and mountain or city views. Make sure to book a treatment at their excellent spa — try the Colorado Bliss CBD Classic Massage for an ultra relaxing experience. There is also a lap pool, hot tub and Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro, which does a local-favorite Sunday brunch.

Hotel St Julien

Top rated
Boulder
9.3 Excellent (441 reviews)

Snowmass: Aspen's Lesser Known Sister Resort

1/3

Everyone knows Aspen, but nearby Snowmass may hold more appeal to certain travelers, being more affordable than Aspen and also more family friendly. The action centers on Snowmass Mountain Resort, which is home to excellent skiing and snowboarding in winter and hiking and mountain biking come summer. There is even a roller coaster on the mountain – the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster zips you down the slopes in a thrilling 7 to 9 minutes, depending on how much you brake.

The town recently renovated its base village with new lodging options, as well as restaurants, art space and an ice skating rink in winter. In summer and fall, you’ll want to reserve some time to explore the nearby Maroon Bells Scenic Area. One of Colorado’s most beautiful destinations, Maroon Bells are two 14,000+ foot mountains fronted by a reflective lake. The area is so popular that you’ll need reservations to enter this portion of the White River National Forest, but they are worth making. There are a number of different hiking trails around here and both peaks can also be summited.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Snowmass Village

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In the newly renovated Base Village, the recently opened Limelight Snowmass is a great choice, especially for families. The hotel entertains kids with a 5-story indoor climbing wall and a children’s play space. There are also two giant outdoor hot tubs (different temperatures) perfect for an après-ski soak. The complimentary breakfast buffet is another perk, and they do a great wood-oven pizza in the lobby lounge restaurant.

Limelight Snowmass

Snowmass Village

Steamboat Springs: Soaking, Skiing and Scenery

1/4

Located about 3 hours northwest of Denver, Steamboat Springs is a popular ski and snowboard destination come winter. However, the town is also home to some scenic hot springs, including Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Located on a dirt road 5.5 miles outside of town, this super mellow resort has a series of sandy bottom soaking pools surrounded mountains and trees. At night, the springs are reserved for adults only and clothing is optional.

If you can’t make it out to Strawberry Park, there is another option in the historic area downtown. The Old Town Hot Springs have a more commercial vibe, but the water is still delightful. There are eight different swimming pools that have been around for more than 100 years, as well as a few waterslides and even an aquatic rock climbing wall.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Steamboat Springs

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The Steamboat Hotel is an excellent budget friendly choice. It has a convenient location near the historic downtown and the ski resort, and is on the free bus route. There is a seasonal swimming pool and a year round hot tub. Rooms are clean and modern, with crisp white sheets and duvets.

Steamboat Hotel

Steamboat Springs
8.0 Very good (2939 reviews)

Great Sand Dunes National Park: A Geological Wonder

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The result of unique wind patterns in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Great San Dunes National Park is like no other place in the Centennial State and easily one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. Located at the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the dunes here rise as high as 750 feet in a 30-square-mile sandbox.

One of the park’s most popular activities is riding a sandboard or sled down the dunes. You’ll have to hike to the top to get down, and you cannot rent boards in the park, but they can be rented from shops in towns around it. The closest is the Oasis Store, which is just 4 miles from the national park’s entrance, but is only open from April through mid-October.

Besides dunes, the park is home to the mysterious Medano Creek, which appears and disappears depending on the season; but, when running fast, a wave appears every 20 seconds or so in what is known as surge flow — another wild phenomenon.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Alamosa

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Located about 30 minutes from the park, Alamosa is the main jumping off town for visitors. 40 Winks Inn Alamosa is a vacation home rental that sleeps up to four people in one bedroom and a common space. It provides contactless check-in with a keypad and gets high marks for cleanliness.

40 Winks Inn Alamosa #2

Alamosa
9.1 Excellent (91 reviews)

Crested Butte: Wild West Adventure

Crested Butte, in a remote location in southwestern Colorado, got its start as a rip roaring silver mining supply camp in the 1970s, filled with saloons and bordellos. Today, its Main Street is still lined with well preserved Victorian homes, now turned into art galleries, restaurants and souvenir shops.

There is great skiing at the laidback Crested Butte Mountain Resort with some of the steepest terrain in the state. However, this charming small town is also one of the places that mountain biking was born and you can ride for hundreds of miles in the wilderness area surrounding town. In fall, when the Aspens turn golden, the Colorado destination becomes even more surreally beautiful.

Crested Butte is also a jumping off point for exploring one of the country’s lesser known national parks – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. While it is not the deepest canyon in the U.S., when depth is combined with the gorge’s sheer narrowness and dark hues of the rocks, it is one of the most awe-inspiring.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Crested Butte

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1/3

For a unique luxury B&B experience, check out Ruby of Crested Butte. The property is in a vibrant clapboard house that is attentively decorated with lots of bold colors. There are just six rooms, featuring mountain views and unique décor. The included gourmet breakfast menu changes daily, but is always delicious — one day their famous French toast, another a veggie frittata. Best of all, cappuccinos and lattes are also included.

The Ruby Of Crested Butte

Crested Butte
9.4 Excellent (76 reviews)