Colorado is filled with remote destinations scattered throughout the state. Depending on how remote you’d like to get, you can go deep into the mountains to stay in a cabin in the wilderness, or seek out one of the quaint towns to find small-town charm set in breathtaking locations, each with unique and remote lodging options.
For nearly 30 years my family, or sometimes I, solo, have traveled regularly to Colorado. The altitude, brisk mountain air, wildlife, hiking opportunities, and vibrant food choices bring us back time and again. Although the larger cities such as Denver, Colorado Springs, and even Boulder hold their unique charms, I find there’s nothing more majestic than to explore the rugged and less-visited parts of Colorado.
Here, in no particular order, are seven gorgeous secluded getaways in Colorado.
Hidden in southwest Colorado, the small town of Mancos sits at 7,000 feet above sea level. There’s plenty to be in awe of in this remote location: The valley is surrounded by the cliffs of Mesa Verde and the La Plata Mountains, with the Jackson Gulch Reservoir and Mesa Verde National Park both nearby. Colorado is known for its outdoor adventures and Mancos is no exception.
In town, wander the quaint, historic streets to discover this artists’ community with 150 area artists, galleries, and the Mancos Opera House.
Food options include organic fare as well as burger joints and coffee roasters. There’s also plenty of regionally grown and produced wine to sample. Find the blend of art, food, and wine the city is known for at Olio. The menu changes weekly at this farm-to-table restaurant, but if it’s available, be sure to sample the Colorado Trout Rillettes with Chickpea Blinis.
View and learn about Ancestral Puebloan culture at the archaeological sites and dwellings preserved at Mesa Verde National Park.
Fans of Louis L’Amour books will enjoy seeing the area he called home and the setting for his books.
For a rustic getaway, stay at one of the lakeside cabins at Willowtail Springs where you can relax with a view of the water, hike the trails, and visit the perennial gardens as well as wooded areas and streams in what is now a nature preserve and education center. For a private and romantic cabin, choose the Bungalow -- perfect for a couple but sleeps up to four people and has views of the lake and mountains.
Pro Tip: Mancos was named One of the Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016 by Smithsonian.com for its “Western charm, thriving artisan community, and proximity to some of Colorado's most treasured landscapes.”
The outdoor activities you’ll find include world-class biking, plus other activities you’d expect from Colorado such as hiking, fishing, and snow sports. There’s a dynamic music and theater scene too, so check out the Sherbino for live music, films, and performing arts.
If you want true ranch-to-fork food, visit True Grit Cafe, housed in a historic building and serving comfort food with a side of history. Feel like a ranch hand and dig into a hearty, hand-cut 12-ounce sirloin steak that comes with two sides. Or go for pure comfort and order the Grown-Up Mac and Cheese, an order of macaroni and cheese that’s topped with fried chicken strips and crumbled bacon.
At the edge of town, you’ll find the Chipeta Solar Springs Resort. The solar-heated soaking pool is divine anytime, but especially when it snows. Choose one of the Lodge Deluxe Rooms with a king-size bed and private balcony with a hot tub. You can relax in body and mind with spectacular scenery, happy hour on the rooftop deck, world-class skiing at Telluride, yoga, and an onsite spa.
When you really want to get away from big cities, there’s Almont, an unincorporated community and U.S. Post Office. You won’t find big business, but you’ll find some of the best white-water rafting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and hiking opportunities. It’s a popular destination for outdoorsy travelers looking for a slower pace in a rustic environment.
A popular resort is the Taylor River Lodge. The property was once used as a locals’ grocery store and bait shop, but it has been redeveloped into a private eight-cabin retreat. Open from late May through early October, it’s a perfect off-the-grid destination for anyone wanting to disconnect and unwind. There’s a stocked trout pond for fishing and a mile stretch of river access just steps from the cabins. Or if you prefer a float trip, the Gunnison River is nearby. On site, you’ll find a rock-climbing wall, archery, and a hatchet-throwing area. There’s a bathhouse with a steam room, saltwater pool, sauna, and hot tub to soak in at the end of a rugged day outdoors. You’ll even find a teepee lounge and a private ice-skating rink. At night you can enjoy stargazing and stories around a campfire.
4. Mesa Verde Country
In rural southwest Colorado waits an off-the-beaten-path destination: Mesa Verde Country. You’ll find millions of acres of open space for exploring and creating memorable experiences. Mesa Verde Country consists of three communities: Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores (Mancos was mentioned above). Each features unique lodging and is near Mesa Verde National Park.
In Cortez, sleep at a historic guest ranch at Canyon of the Ancients. The ranch consists of a private home and five luxurious cabins. All of the cabins have full kitchens with cooking utensils, plus they provide free-range eggs and organic vegetables (in season). The cabins are situated in McElmo Canyon, a Sedona-like setting with 5,000 documented archeological sites in the area.
Or venture to Dolores and stay at the Dolores Mountain Inn. It’s a clean and comfortable inn that has easy access to hiking and biking trails, the Dolores River, and McPhee Reservoir. The small town offers a variety of restaurants and a grocery store for stocking up on supplies.
Pro Tip: Mesa Verde National Park was named the Number One Historic Monument in the World by Conde Nast Traveler and one of 50 Places of a Lifetime -- The World's Greatest Destinations by National Geographic.
5. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs lays at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is perfect for someone wanting a remote yet still-easily-accessible destination. This historic mountain town oozes with culture, history, and outdoor adventures -- but still offers modern amenities. In town, take the brew trail, spend time shopping for cowboy boots or fine art, or enjoy one of the many dining options.
For classic Mexican dishes, visit the family-owned Salt and Lime. The decor and flavors are both fresh and bright, and the food is made using traditional Mexican cooking techniques and regionally sourced ingredients. One such combination is the Colorado Bison taco made with ground bison, pico de gallo, onion strings, manchego (Spanish cheese traditionally made with sheep’s milk), and Mexican crema.
While you’re there, experience an upscale all-inclusive ranch, located about 25 miles from Steamboat Springs. The Vista Verde Dude and Guest Ranch log cabins are stocked with hand-hewn furniture with private decks and hot tubs. There are snacks in the cabins and meals are served in the dining room. Enjoy the seasonal outdoor pool, horseback riding, hiking, and other outdoor activities. There’s even a children’s activity center and a spa.
In the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains, you’ll find skiing and hiking adventures at Red Mountain Alpine Lodge, located in Ouray (known as the Switzerland of America). You’ll find the new lodge at 11,000 feet above sea level on the Red Mountain Pass. The custom timber frame lodge is centrally located yet offers easy access to backcountry terrain. The lodge offers a large loft that will sleep between 19 and 22 people, or choose from one of three private rooms at this remote destination.
Editor’s Note: For more on enjoying this area, consider How To Spend a Perfect Weekend In Gorgeous Ouray, Colorado, and 8 Things To Know About Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway (which passes through Ouray).
You may not think of Aspen when someone says “remote,” and it’s true that the city is a popular destination for its shopping, dining, and access to outdoor adventures.
Still, for those who don’t want to go full wilderness, there’s a way to have the glitz and glamour of Aspen yet stay in a remote location. Aspen Meadows Resort is located in Aspen’s quiet West End, settled on 40 secluded acres.
When there’s snow on the ground, grab a complimentary pair of snowshoes to walk around the property and explore the trails and sculpture gardens. It’s also home of the Aspen Institute, so you’ll have access to ongoing special programming. In the summer, enjoy use of the complimentary cruiser bikes.
For a truly unique dining experience, Plato’s has private igloos that seat up to six and are heated. You’ll enjoy amazing views of the mountains alongside dishes made by Executive Chef Jason Thompson using sustainable, local ingredients.
Can’t get enough Colorado? Consider these 11 Colorado Towns That Feel Like You’re In A Hallmark Christmas Movie, 8 Beautiful Colorado Train Trips You Must Experience, and How To Visit Crystal Mill, One Of Colorado’s Most Photographed Sites.