At the time of writing we are in the middle of a pandemic, so I'd like to think that people are staying at home for now. Still, I'm sure you're all dreaming of trips to come, so I wanted to talk about what I think are the three best places to visit in Colorado. I'm not going to talk about the obvious choices like Rocky Mountain National Park and Denver or Aspen. Those are all great choices, but my favorites are less widely known and your tourist dollars will make a huge difference.
Accessible from Montrose or Durango, the small mountain town of Silverton is as close to the Old West as you will find without visiting a theme park or a tourist trap. Wide open main streets, historic buildings, and a regular chance to ride a steam train through the mountains (back to Durango) all add to a relaxing atmosphere. If that doesn't transport you back in time, then take a short drive to Animas Forks, a well preserved ghost town that serves as a reminder of the mining days a century or more ago. The Animas Forks road leads to the Alpine Loop, a dirt road that winds through the nearby mountains. I will warn you that the Loop becomes busier, dustier and more like a Mad Max movie each year. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Animas Forks and of course the town of Silverton are all well worth a visit.
2. Crested Butte
A small but well established ski town in winter, Crested Butte is a charming and friendly town full of businesses serving locals and tourists alike (read: not a tourist trap) in summer. Enjoy less crowded dirt roads (even cycle friendly), amazing food and entertainment, and a generally friendly atmosphere. My tip: drive north for a beautiful and peaceful afternoon. Crested Butte is best accessed from Gunnison.
I make no secret of the fact that my favorite town in the whole of the US is Ouray. It is busier than the other two on this list, but it has everything you would want from a vacation town. Hotels with hot springs, a beautiful downtown district, probably the most beautiful road in the US (the Million Dollar Highway, which leads back to Silverton), and an endless number of hiking trails for all abilities - and a 200ft waterfall on the edge of town! Imagine the best of Colorado Springs crossed with a mountain town in world-class surroundings and you have Ouray.
Honorable Mention: Salida
A little further east lies the small town of Salida, which is just 100 miles from Colorado Springs. Salida may not be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes as the top three are, but it is a thriving town with outstanding food and breweries in unassuming but charming streets. The Arkansas River runs through Salida, and you can enjoy a day spent on or near the river before discovering your new favorite eatery. Salida is another cycle-friendly town, like CB.
These towns are tucked away in SW and central Colorado. Often overlooked in favor of larger and more famous places, these are all easily accessible yet relatively peaceful towns with a lot to offer the curious visitor. I have no business links with or in any of them. I highly recommend all of them!