7 Best Small Towns in Colorado (And Awesome Nearby Campsites)
Colorado elicits visions of snow-capped mountains, one after the other after the other.
And no wonder, with the most 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet) at 58 of them, in any state, the beauty that is Colorado lies mostly in her peaks, glades, and alpine surroundings.
Add to that, her 637 13ers and even more peaks just below 13,000 feet, it makes perfect sense why the seven best small towns in Colorado are in the mountains.
Visiting these quaint Colorado small towns is even more intriguing when you’ve got awesome nearby campsites to call home while exploring these marvelous mountain towns.
Why You’ll Love It: Salida is located in the Heart of the Rockies surrounded by three mountain ranges. They are the Sangre de Cristos, the Mosquito Range and the Sawatch range. There are even fifteen 14ers to explore… Salida is truly a dream mountain town.
The Arkansas River runs right through this Colorado small town. This river offers a plethora of activities including whitewater rafting, fishing, hot springs and more.
Along with that comes spectacular hiking and mountain biking, along with skiing and snowboarding at nearby Monarch Mountain. With breweries, coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants and plenty of shopping to keep you entertained and hydrated, you’ll be wanting for nothing in Salida.
Nearby Camping: Four Seasons RV Park
Miles to Downtown: 2.5 miles
Four Seasons RV Park is set alongside the Arkansas River. This campground has rates starting around $40 per night depending on site preference and rig sizes. Also, it’s open all year, so you’ll have easy access to the playground that is Salida and the surrounding area.
Four Seasons RV Park has good WIFI, showers and restrooms, and trees throughout the park. This campground will provide you with a good night’s sleep to energize you for your next adventure.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.9
Manitou Springs – Small Town Colorado Near the Big City
Why You’ll Love It: Manitou Springs is nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak Mountain and nearby Garden of the Gods just outside of Colorado Springs. This small town in Colorado will awaken all of your senses.
From year-round hiking to natural mineral springs throughout the town to the infamous Manitou Incline where you can climb 2,000 feet in just under a mile, your adrenaline will be pumping until you sit at one of the many restaurants to enjoy the delicacies of the town.
Nearby Camping: Pikes Peak RV Park
Miles to Downtown: ½ mile
Once you’ve experienced all the hiking, shopping, eating and drinking, you can rest and relax at Pikes Peak RV Park. Pikes Peak RV Park is located 10 minutes from Garden of the Gods. And, it’s only a 15 minute walk away from downtown Manitou, so you’ll get the best of both worlds here.
This park is complete with a quaint creek and convenient walking trail. Here, you’ll get a good night’s rest with sites starting around $60/night for full hookups.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 8.9
Why You’ll Love It: Crestone has just under 200 full-time residents. It’s a spiritual community like none you’ve ever seen before! Crestone is surrounded by the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the San Luis Valley. This small town in Colorado may just be the cutest, quirkiest town of all.
There are an array of world religions represented here. From a Zen Center, the Crestone Ziggurat, Tibetan Buddhist centers, a Hindo temple and more, finding your calm amidst the beauty is easy.
There are many hiking trails nearby and the Great Sand Dunes National Park is only an hour away. In Crestone, you’ll find cute shops and even a brewery. This is one of the best small towns in Colorado that will steal your heart.
Nearby Camping: North Crestone Creek Campground
Miles to Downtown: 2.8
The North Crestone Creek Campground is a USFS dry camping campground just a little over 2 miles outside of town. This beautiful wooded campground can accommodate RVs up to 25 feet. It’s the perfect mountain retreat for your Crestone adventure.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.4
Why You’ll Love It: Crested Butte is known for its skiing and mountain biking trails. This townwill pull you in with its splendor in all seasons. If you’re ever looking for that quintessential small Colorado mountain town, this is it! It’s got charm, activities, shopping, drinking, eating, small town feel, and more.
Crested Butte has a population of around 1700 people. It’s located in Colorado’s Elk Mountain Range in the Rocky Mountains. Also, it is a bit off the beaten path! But it’s definitely worth every pass you go over to get there in its stunning mountainous beauty.
Nearby Camping: Crested Butte RV Resort
Miles to Downtown: 3 miles
Billed as a boutique park, Crested Butte RV Resort has a true small town Colorado feel. Although there are requirements for only newer RVs and no tent campers or soft sided campers or vans, this RV resort will make you feel quite at home with its 50 amp back in spaces. Open year round, you can experience true mountain living at its finest.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.2
Why You’ll Love It: Located just outside of Boulder, this small town in Colorado has everything you need and all the things you didn’t know you needed. With several coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, boutique shops all within the town limits itself and Eldora Ski resort only a few miles away, Nederland is the place to celebrate all things Colorado.
Home to the unique festival, Frozen Dead Guy Days, loosely held to celebrate the cryopreservation of Grandpa Bredo, now “110 years old” and kept on ice in a Tuff Shed until there’s a cure found for being dead. You’ll have to see what all the fuss is about for yourself over beer, music and coffin races during the festival held every March.
Nearby Camping: Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Miles to Downtown: 17 miles
Camping around 9,000 feet has its pros and cons and here at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, the beauty here far outweighs any cons. This is a state park campground, so there are no sewer hookups, but there are spaces with electrical and bathrooms are available to use. Some big rigs may not fit in the spaces, but there are plenty of trees and hiking accessibility is brilliant. If you’re looking for mountain camping vibes, this is the campground to get you those vibes and close to small town Colorado vibes, as well.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.6
Leadville, Highest Town in Colorado (and the US!)
Why You’ll Love It: At over 10,000 feet in elevation, Leadville is one of the highest incorporated towns in the U.S. Still maintaining its old mining town feel, when visiting this small town in Colorado, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. In fact, 70 square blocks of downtown Leadville have been designated as a National Historic Landmark District of Victorian Architecture.
Nestled at the Arkansas Headwaters with views of several 14ers towering above this historic small mountain town, you’ll find many outdoor activities to keep you active. Speaking of active, Leadville is home to the Leadville 100, an ultramarathon of 100 miles through the Rocky Mountains. Maybe you’re not quite ready to run 100 miles at 10,000 feet, but I bet you’ll sleep well if you do.
Nearby Camping: Sugar Loafin’ RV Campground
Miles to Downtown: 3.5 miles
Speaking of sleeping, the Sugar Loafin’ RV campground will keep you cozy. Under its beautiful canopy of trees surrounded by lake and stream trout fishing, rock hounding, jeep trails, hiking, boating, mountain climbing and the nation’s highest golf course. With full hookups available, showers, laundry, camp store and more, your evenings will be spent chilling, so that your days can be spent exploring.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.5
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Why You’ll Love It: Known for its hot springs, surrounded by the rugged San Juan Mountains, with the San Juan River running through town and Wolf Creek Ski Area nearby, it’ll be easy to spend several days here getting to know this lovely small town in Colorado.
Enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, mountain town shopping, restaurants, breweries, and all the amenities small town Colorado has to offer.
Pro Tip: This is the best free-camping in Pagosa.
Nearby Camping: Mountain Landing Suites and RV Park
Miles to Downtown: 3.5 miles
Billed as RV camping in town just like you’re in the forest, Mountain Landing Suites and RV Park offers full hookups starting at $48 a night for all the amenities you’ll need to enjoy your stay here while exploring the Pagosa Springs area. With spacious sites, a covered pavilion and bathhouses for your comfort, you’ll be quite comfortable at this home away from home.
Small Town Colorado Vibe Score: 9.1
Small Town Colorado Takes You to the Top of the World
On top of the world, looking down on creation. That’s how you’ll feel when visiting the seven best small towns in Colorado.
Whether you love to shop, mountain bike, climb mountains, fish, drink craft beer or coffee, or simply watch the birds fly across the crisp blue of a mountain lake, these small towns in Colorado will make you feel as though you are on top of the world.
If you’re into spooky places, check out the creepy ghost towns in Colorado.
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