#6. Glenwood Springs
Once a town that leaned toward the “wild” side in the days of the Wild West, our number six best small town Glenwood Springs, Colo., is now a much tamer, peaceful and family-friendly city known for its assortment of outdoor activities and walking trails. Visitors come to Glenwood Springs to swim in the world’s largest hot springs pool, raft down the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers, fish in crystal clear streams and snow ski at world-class resorts. Those who live in this remnant of the Old West get to experience these adventures on a regular basis. Residents of Glenwood Springs enjoy a healthy lifestyle, temperate climate, good schools, great medical facilities and a vibrant cultural scene.
Trails running alongside the city’s rivers connect to neighborhoods and shopping areas, creating a highly walkable community. Many residents mountain bike and hike on trails that lead to stunning views, such as the clear, turquoise blue waters of Hanging Lake. There are more than half a dozen ski resorts located within an hour of Glenwood Springs, while the city’s Sunlight Mountain Resort offers a lower-cost alternative. Located a few miles east of town is the White River National Forest, a 2.3-million-acre wilderness where many go to raft, fish, hike and climb mountains. This town’s amazing recreational opportunities continue underground in the Glenwood Caverns, a subterranean labyrinth filled with crystalline formations.
Historic taverns offer the opportunity to sit down in some of the same watering holes where outlaws and lawmen of the Wild West once clashed. Doc Holliday, one of the more colorful figures of the Old West, died in Glenwood Springs and is buried up a steep trail just minutes from downtown. Saloons and brothels have been replaced by boutique shops, restaurants and bookstores in downtown Glenwood Springs, an area praised by preservationists. The historic Train Depot remains an important link to this town’s past and future as it brings in thousands of visitors each year. From June through September, Glenwood’s Downtown Market at Centennial Park offers music, fresh produce, artisan-made crafts and activities for kids. Concerts, festivals and special events bring community members together nearly every week in Glenwood Springs.