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Colorado, Steamboat Springs, Vail, Denver, Telluride, Glenwood Springs

Choice between Steamboat Springs area or Vail for summer hiking and scenery

Not sure which way to head for my one week driving tour through the Co. mountains (never been before)...I love nature and easy hiking.  Not sure if I should head to Steamboat for the hot springs or Vail and Glenwood Springs area?  I'll be driving through Denver from MN.  I want to circle through the mountains and see some sites, maybe a little easy rafting trip then stop at Pikes peak area and Co. Springs to end my trip.   Is Telluride a must see?  Thanks!

9 Answers

top answer by
Kim from Colorado

I would choose Steamboat Springs.   It has a very small town feel.  It is a short drive to Oak Creek a very rural town outside of Steamboat. There is Taco stand on Main street called Lupita's Cantina. Tacos voted for best Taco Stand in the state. The tacos sell out by 3:30pm.  While you are there, go have a beer at Elk's Tavern and say hi to Shirley. Shirley is the owner of the local bar for 32 years.  If you are looking to get to know people from a true mountain community, interested in local mining history, it's worth a stop.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steamboat Springs (city)
  2. Oak Creek (city)
  3. Lupita's Cantina (restaurant)
  4. Elk's Tavern (attraction)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Jen from Denver

Telluride is a must see!  It is a 6-7 hour from Denver, so plan for that.  It is the most amazing town in the country--you will be blown away by the scenery.  I have been going there 2 times a year for 4 years and discover new things every single time. Skip Vail--it is not a historic town at all and is right off I-70.  The scenery doesn't even come close to Telluride's in southwest Colorado and it is very pretentious. All the hiking you will need is in Telluride with the highest waterfalls in Colorado, Wilson Peak, Bear Creek Trail, Sneffels Range, wildflowers, 4x4-ing, mountain biking, small historic town with fun little local shops and great food scene.  I would spend 3 days there minimum if you want to get some good hikes in and see the town. has a list of all the best hikes and where the trailheads are.  The drive to Telluride via hwy 24 to hwy 50 is gorgeous too!  Skip I-70.  You can also visit nearby Ouray and drive the Million Dollar Highway.  That is where you will get a serious feel of driving through the mountains! Once back in the Denver/Colorado Springs are, I would recommend driving up Mount Evans instead of Pikes Peak--unless you plan on taking to cog rail up Pikes. You will see mountain goats and more beautiful tundra landscape on Evans than Pikes--and Evans road is paved, so if you aren't used to high altitude driving, this would be a better bet for you.  Good luck!  Would love to know what you decide!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Telluride (city)
  2. Denver (city)
  3. Vail (city)
  4. Wilson Peak (park)
  5. Bear Creek Trail (attraction)
  6. Sneffels Range (attraction)
  7. Ouray (city)
  8. Million Dollar Highway (attraction)
  9. Mount Evans (attraction)
  10. Pikes Peak (attraction)
5 thankscomments (6)

answered by
Jane from Golden (Colorado)

Both Vail and Steamboat Springs are great to stay and for hiking.  Steamboat is more down to earth.  Telluride is amazing.  If you go stop and or stay Ridgway and there is a beautiful state park just out of town with easy hiking and amazing views.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vail (city)
  2. Steamboat Springs (city)
  3. Telluride (city)
  4. Ridgway (city)
5 thanks

answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

Both Vail and Steamboat Springs are at the top of my favorite list. It depends on the vibe you are looking for. Vail is significantly higher end-expensive ships and restaurants, interesting people watching. But it also has a lot of charm! Steamboat is way more laid back and has an adorable old town area with unique shops and bites. The hot springs are fun as is a walk to the falls, very easy (wheelchair accessible). Both are well worth the visit, just depends what you are looking for!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vail (city)
  2. Steamboat Springs (city)
5 thanks

answered by
Brit from Denver

Steamboat Springs is a personal favorite, so I'm pretty biased. Although, Vail is great for hiking, too. Steamboat (the town) has a much chiller vibe than Vail.

Hiking Rabbit Ears Pass or the Devil's Causeway are great hikes in Steamboat (there are plenty more). And visiting Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs is always a great time.

Telluride is fantastic, but depending on how long your road trip is, it can definitely be out of your way. If you head into Colorado from the north end, you could hit up Steamboat first, swing down to Denver (about a three-hour drive), then make your way down to the Springs. Telluride is around a seven hour drive from Denver and is in the SW corner of the state -- something to keep in mind.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steamboat Springs (city)
  2. Vail (city)
  3. Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs (attraction)
  4. Telluride (city)
  5. Denver (city)
  6. Rabbit Ears Pass (attraction)
  7. Devil's Causeway (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Wayne N Karen from Irvine

Vail is just off I-70 so the access is quick and easy. Steamboat is quite a distance from I-70. I would choose Steamboat because it is more remote. If you are driving along I-70 stop by our favorite bakery/cafe The Columbine Bakery in Avon, the west side of Vail for a meal and/or baguette sandwich for the road.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vail (city)
  2. The Columbine Bakery (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Travel the I-70 west.  If you want an easy hike to the most popular scene in Colorado, then go to Aspen, head up the Maroon Creek Road watershed on the bus system, then hike west to view the Maroon Bells.  Other scenic opportunities include other 14,000-foot summits, including Mount EvansMount BierstadtGrays And Torreys Trailhead, Mount Evans; Mount Bierstadt; Grays and Torreys Peaks; Belford, Oxford, Missouri, Huron, Yale, Harvard, Antero, Princeton, Tabeguache, Shavano, Kit Carson.  There is a great hot springs resort on Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.  Tellurideis not much, other than an over-run tourist town in a box canyon.  However, drive southwest into the Lizard Head or Mesa Verde National Park if you wish.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Colorado (state)
  2. Aspen (city)
  3. Maroon Creek Road (attraction)
  4. Mount Evans (attraction)
  5. Mount Bierstadt (attraction)
  6. Grays And Torreys Trailhead (attraction)
  7. Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort (attraction)
  8. Telluride (city)
  9. Lizard Head (attraction)
  10. Mesa Verde National Park (park)

answered by
Martin from Colorado

Steamboat Springs hands down.  Cooler town, more to do, tube the river, its off the I-70 corridor.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steamboat Springs (city)

answered by
Jeffrey from Los Angeles

Easy, Steamboat Springs it's amazing in the summer and the winter!  Telluride is nice for sure and there are hot springs down there also. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Steamboat Springs (city)
  2. Telluride (city)

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