Discover the 8 Best Mountain Towns Near Denver – 2023 Update

If you would like to take a day trip from Denver or want to settle in the mountains nearby, we picked the best mountain towns near Denver for you to enjoy.

Denver is a world-class city that offers virtually everything you can imagine, but the hustle and bustle of the large city may not be suitable for everyone year-round. It also comes at a price as Denver is one of the most expensive cities in the Rocky Mountain State.

Luckily, Denver is near several charming small mountain towns tucked away in the Rockies that are close enough to access the big city, but far enough to enjoy some peace and experience a different way of life.

Best Mountain Towns Near Denver – Our Research Methodology

To choose the best places to live in the mountains near Denver, we first narrowed our radius to only include towns that were no more than 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Denver by car.

We then filtered the list to only include communities with about 20,000 residents or less to truly capture the cozy spirit of a Colorado mountain town.

Next, we rated each town based on their amenities, cost of living, safety, and overall desirability for both residents and tourists to determine our final rankings.

So, let’s take a look at our updated list of the best mountain towns near Denver.

The 8 Best Mountain Towns Near Denver in 2023

8. Central City


Population: 699
Cost of Living Index: 12% Below Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 45 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Colorado’s Gold Rush began in Central City and the town still reflects that excitement with its popular casino and gaming venues. There are six casinos in town that are open 24 hours a day. There’s even a microbrewery casino

But Central City today is so much more than gold and gambling, with a small mountain town vibe that reflects Colorado’s Wild West beginnings but is also full of modern attractions such as unique art galleries. That combination makes it one of the best mountain towns near Denver to discover. 

Outdoor adventurers will love Central City’s location on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, which is a gorgeous showcase of Colorado’s Front Range through a drive full of cliffs and curves.

It’s also right outside Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Central City’s median home prices are about 28% lower than the Colorado state average as well.

7. Georgetown

Population: 1,143
Cost of Living Index: 5% Below Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 50 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Ideally located halfway between Denver and Vail, Georgetown, Colorado offers everything from charming Victorian architecture to fantastic antique shops and restaurants on Main Street. It’s also home to the famous Georgetown Loop Railroad, which takes the brave through the verdant mountains and on a bridge high above Clear Creek.

Like all the best mountain towns near Denver, Georgetown features a ton of breweries, including Cabin Creek Brewing, which overlooks Georgetown Lake. To top it all off, the average home in the area goes for about 1% less than the rest of the state and it receives high marks for its low crime rate and great schools. 

6. Golden


Population: 20,268
Cost of Living Index: 14% Above Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 25 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Golden lives up to its name and more than earns its place among the best mountain towns in the area. It’s just a quick trip out of Denver but feels a world away, with unmatched scenic beauty, numerous parks, and a charming downtown full of shops and restaurants.

Golden even made our most recent list of the top cities to live in the Rocky Mountain State.

Home to both the Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines, Golden also features world-class white water kayaking, spectacular hiking and mountain biking near Lookout Mountain, and an abundance of parks. 

Golden is also desirable for its highly rated public schools and attractive atmosphere for both young professionals and families. Oh, and there are also other breweries in town, too.

5. Frisco


Population: 2,909
Cost of Living Index: 27% Above Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 40 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

The world comes to Colorado to ski and it’s difficult to find a better basecamp than Frisco. It’s within 30 minutes from six resorts, including Breckenridge and Vail. But Frisco offers more than enough on its own to make it one of the best mountain towns near Denver to visit or to relocate to.

Charming and picturesque, Frisco isn’t just for skiing.

For example, Frisco Adventure Park has everything from hiking and mountain biking to skateboarding and disc golf. That’s near Frisco’s historic downtown that has a lot of shopping, sports outfitters, and a park all set at the foothills of the Rockies.

The sports continue year-round, especially at Dillon Reservoir’s Marina, which is best experienced on boats that are available for rent starting in the summer.

4. Idaho Springs


Population: 1,937
Cost of Living Index: 14% Below Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 40 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Idaho Springs’ fantastic cost of living is only part of its appeal. Though it’s very much a mountain town where skiing is king, what makes Idaho Springs one of the best mountain towns near Denver is its four-season offerings.

Yes, there’s snowboarding, tubing, and skiing for all skill levels at Echo Mountain as well as the newly opened Frozen Fire Ice Rink at Digger Field, but there’s also rafting on Clear Creek and many hiking options, including the breathtaking St. Mary’s Glacier Hike.

After all that activity, you can relax at the Indian Hot Springs. And, with an average home cost that is over 30% lower than the rest of Colorado, Idaho Springs is perfect for young families.

3. Breckenridge


Population: 4,732
Cost of Living Index: 19% Above Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

When people think of Colorado ski towns, they think of Breckenridge. Though very much a small mountain town, Breckenridge boasts a distinctive urban feel, with a historic Main Street lined with restaurants, bars, and over 200 quaint shops that cater to locals and visiting ski enthusiasts alike.

Culture is kind in Breckenridge, especially at Breckenridge Creative Arts where classes, performances, and events are held year-round. To take in the scenery through a hike or drive, head to Boreas Pass Road, which is also popular with mountain bikers.

Summer is a busy season at Peak 8 Fun Park, a kid-friendly adventure park with a roller coaster, bungee trampoline, and Colorado’s largest human maze.

Breckenridge’s place on this list is solidified by its low crime rate, well-regarded public schools, walkability, and numerous public green spaces. 

2. Evergreen

Population: 8,580
Cost of Living Index: 20% Above Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 40 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Evergreen gets its name from the old-growth trees and conifers that dot the thousands of acres of scenic parks and mountain peaks. It’s this rural feel that makes it one of the best mountain towns near Denver.

It’s also one of the best mountain towns for watersports. Evergreen Lake is a popular fishing and hiking spot (or a place to get in a nice 1 mile walk or jog), and in the winter offers ice skating. Camping and spotting wildlife at Echo Lake Park is another fantastic option.

Meanwhile, Downtown Evergreen has many restaurants for al fresco dining near Bear Creek, along with a nice mix of bistros and shopping, as well as a healthy schedule of live music and special events.

Fine arts and craft stores are also a specialty that you can find in Evergreen. The Evergreen Golf Course is also conveniently located near downtown. Overall, Evergreen earns top marks for its family-friendly atmosphere, lively nightlife, and high-performing public schools.

1. Estes Park


Population: 6,230
Cost of Living Index: 5% Above Colorado Average
Distance from Denver: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Location: Check on Google Maps

Estes Park tops our list as the best mountain town near Denver. This lightly populated community truly provides the feel of a quintessential Colorado mountain town.

Serving as the eastern entrance to the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park offers more than 350 miles of hiking trails, free-roaming wildlife, and gorgeous, pristine lakes. Estes Park has also become a fly fishing and rafting destination, with options including Trout Haven Fishing Pond and Mountain Whitewater.

On the outskirts of Estes Park is the famous Stanley Hotel, now on the National Register of Historic Places and the inspiration for the hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

In downtown, spend a leisurely afternoon on the Riverwalk, which offers numerous bars, shops, and independent boutiques (you won’t find many chains here). All of this is set along the Fall and Big Thompson Rivers.

Best Mountain Towns Near Denver – Summary

Overall, the best places to live in the mountains near Denver to live in or visit are:

  1. Estes Park
  2. Evergreen
  3. Breckenridge
  4. Idaho Springs
  5. Frisco
  6. Golden
  7. Georgetown
  8. Central City

All of these quaint little communities offer a well-rounded way of life where all the locals know everyone and can enjoy festivals and events together.

They are also close enough to Denver so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.