Colorful Colorado offers plenty of places to make residents and neighbors proud.

From the plains to the peaks, settlers then and transplants today have found wide open spaces to land or mountain nooks upon which to build a community.

And before you get in a tizzy about growth, I get it, but we still have some of the best recreation in the nation and four national parks to boot.

So, it makes sense that Colorado finds itself on so many best-of lists.

Far and Wide updated its list of the best small towns in America on April 1, 2024, to rank the top 100 by size across the country.

The list starts at 100 with Sedona, Arizona, population 9,684, and ends with Monowi, Nebraska, population 1. The list is touted as the best places with less than 10,000 residents to live or visit. Somehow, I’m not sure that Elsie is looking to expand her Nebraska hamlet. But I could be wrong. Visitors can chat her up at the Monowi Tavern.

Back to Colorado.

Our great state has four small towns on the list. Not surprisingly, they might be more for visiting than living. This is Colorado, after all, and we know the cost of living prices many out of the dream.

What dreams are these?

Here are the four Colorado towns ranked best places to live or visit

At 89, Aspen, with its 7,004 population


Touted as the small town with a giant reputation …. well, um, more correctly as the playground of the rich and famous. So, yes, maybe it’s a great town, but not one to put on the list for relocation. Unless, of course, you are rich, famous or both.

There is no denying the year-round beauty of our Colorado mountain jewel. Plus, it has all the amenities of a big (expensive) city when comes to restaurants and retail.

Oh, and we almost forgot, and they did: world-class skiing.

Back in the day, as the Far and Wide “fun fact” reminds us, Hunter S. Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” ran for county sheriff in 1970 as part of the “Freak Power” movement. He didn’t win. And the fun, freaky aspect of the mountain area found other corners of Colorado to let their flags fly.

Live or visit? Worth a visit.

Telluride fills the No. 47 spot with a population of 2,607


Far and Wide touted Telluride as less pricey than the famed Aspen (small city Boulder), and shouted out its historic downtown and the awesome San Juan Mountain backdrop while also having a top-notch opera house and museum.

But this recognition left off the best of Telluride, events that make for a great road trip, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Jazz Festival. Plus, the town plays host to other incredible music in the park throughout the summer-ish season. Oh, the skiing isn’t bad either.

By the way, Telluride isn’t exactly an affordable place to live. The average home price is $1.8 million dollars. Cheaper than Aspen’s $3.3 million.

Again, more-of-a-visit-than-live town for most of us.

At 31, Mancos with 1,415 residents

Mancos, Colorado, downtown building
By Carol M. Highsmith - Library of Congress

What’s not to love about a town with a matter-of-fact tagline “between Mesa Verde and the mountains”? I much prefer the chamber line “where the West still lives.”

This southwest Colorado town doesn’t have the pretense the others have. It lies between Durango (too big for this list with its 19,531 people) and Cortez (a more modest, if even larger town).

The artisan community sits at 7,000 feet and blends an artsy vibe with outdoor chill and ranching rules of life.

Oh, and there’s skiing close by.

Live or visit? Attainable mountain living with the typical home valued at $463,479.

No. 17, Silverton, Colorado, has a population of 630

Silverton, Colorado

There’s more to Silverton than the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. I highly recommend taking a ride if you haven’t already.

This tiny mountain village has beautiful summers, but let’s say it might not be a year-round haven for all as it sits 9,318 feet in elevation.

And, surprise, there’s a nearby mountain for skiing.

P.S. Outsiders ranking Colorado’s towns and cities, not everyone in Colorado skis.

So, what’s missing from this list?

I’d add Manitou Springs, population 4,900.

Colorado’s growth has pushed some of the best small towns over the 5K mark. So, towns 5,000 to 7,000 sound appropriate for the next list.

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