Explore New Places in 2019
Head to one of Colorado's mountain towns that you've never been to before. You won't be disappointed.
Photos by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
I am not a New Year Resolution person but if it involves travel, I’m on board.
Growing up, I lived on a thickly-forested Pacific Northwest mountain about 45 minutes from Mt. Baker and 30 minutes from the ocean. While I miss the ocean, I feel at home in the mountains and for that reason, and the sunshine, there’s no better place to be than in Colorado.
I’ve been lucky enough to see most of the state and have traveled to nearly every mountain town, and I've found that they are all quite different. Even the ski resort towns tend to each have their own unique vibe.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Many of us have a mountain town that’s “ours” or “our families.” It’s a place we feel comfortable and know which restaurants and ski runs are best. However, everyday I talk to locals who haven’t been to many mountain towns. I've even spoken to some longtime Denverites who haven't been to any.
Getting out and exploring is something everyone intends to do but then life gets in the way. Kids have soccer games and there are work and family gatherings. Life happens and the travel we were so sure we would do doesn’t happen.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Make a resolution this year to travel Colorado’s mountains and to visit a new-to-you town. Explore the streets, visit a historic haunt, hang out at coffee shops and breweries and talk to the locals.
Perhaps you’ll visit Crested Butte with its colorful buildings and cozy bagel shop, or Grand Lake with its wooden sidewalks and authentic charm. Maybe you’ll travel to Meeker, a Northwest Colorado town that’s been overlooked but is certainly worth a visit, especially during Jammin’ Lamb Festival.
Have you ever soaked in a hot spring? Colorado has hundreds. Glenwood Springs is a favorite, but few Coloradans make it as far south as Pagosa Springs with its three beautiful hot spring destinations and nearby ski resort. When you visit, you’ll find that Texans and New Mexicans love this southern Colorado town and have claimed it as their own.
Steamboat Art Museum
I’m surprised by the number of people who haven’t been to Steamboat Springs. It’s not only a ski resort, but there are hot springs and it’s a real, genuine town. I know people who’ve made Steamboat Springs their permanent home and they love it. It may seem “far north” but it’s only less than three hours from Denver and it has its own airport making it super accessible for people outside of Colorado.
The I-70 corridor gets a lot of traffic and by this, I mean actual cars. Today, it’s packed during every season and a lot of locals claim they are avoiding it entirely. However, there are ways to sidestep the backups on I-70 and you’ll want to, because venturing up this famous interstate will lead you into some special Colorado mountain towns.
My tips on I-70 travel is to head home early on a Sunday (before 10 a.m.), and if you can, travel on non-weekend days. A Thursday trip to the mountains with a return to the Front Range on Saturday usually works well. During the winter, the ski train is an alternative way to avoid the headaches that come with being on I-70.
Downtown Breckenridge, Colorado
So what mountain towns are along the I-70 corridor? Breckenridge is always fun, but more recently we discovered that Frisco is entertaining too. With Dillon Reservoir in the middle of it all and offering year-round fun, Silverthorne and Dillon are both good mountain towns. All three towns make for excellent and more affordable lodging options for skiers too.
There’s also Vail with its amazing food scene. I-70 towns like Minturn are home to hidden gems like Eagle Valley Music, an cool little record store, and Kirby Cosmo’s, a delicious barbecue joint.
I could go on and on about Colorado’s mountain towns, but for now, I am going to challenge you to get out there and explore this year. There’s a town for everyone in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, it’s up to you to find yours.