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Southwestern Colorado: Mountains, National Parks and Canyons

With a backdrop of the San Juan Mountains, Southwestern Colorado is a playground for outdoor adventure. World-renowned skiing at Telluride and Durango is paired with deep river gorges that provide river adventures and fishing for trout and salmon. Forested slopes combined with desert vistas of bluffs and plateaus set a ranchland scene that is unique only to Colorado. Local hot springs, archeological ruins and charming cities complete the scene for your vacation adventures. You’ll enjoy amenities like a fireplace, Internet access and a washing machine in your vacation house, condo or cabin.

History and Heritage

The ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument are a fascinating trip into native history. The park includes thousands of archeological features and 600 cliff dwellings that are built into cliffs using intricate masonry methods. The cliff dwellings are remarkably well preserved. These fascinating cliff dwellings may have been built for safety from other tribes and animals, and they provide a look into the heritage and culture of the ancestral Puebloans.

Telluride Historic District

With remnants of old silver mines speckled among the hills and mountains surrounding Telluride, this charming town is on the National Register of Historic Places. A glimpse into Victorian times in a mining community can be explored at the Telluride Historical Museum. Many smaller mining towns surround Telluride; they are now ghost towns and you can drive or hike to view the remnants of the old buildings that remain standing.

Food and Drink

Southwestern Colorado is home to many fine breweries, producing more beer than any other state. Wineries and distilleries are also part of the landscape in this area of the state. Many local restaurants serve these locally produced beverages along with farm-to-table food such as vegetables and meats. Mexican food is prevalent in this part of the state with authentic ingredients and flavors.

Winter Sports

As throughout the state of Colorado, skiing and snowboarding is a popular sport in the area. World-class ski areas such as Durango and Telluride draw visitors and winter sports enthusiasts from across the world. As a former silver mining camp, Telluride is a charming Victorian town that sits in a canyon, and a gondola connects it to Mountain View, a small town at the base of the ski area. In the summer, the ski slopes are utilized by mountain bikers.


Snowmobiling is a wonderful way to explore the beautiful Southwestern Colorado area during the winter. Snowmobile tours are available along with opportunities for individual riding and exploration of the region. If you prefer non-motorized travel, dog sledding and wintertime mountain biking are popular winter sports as well.


Southwestern Colorado can experience wide changes in the weather any time of the year. In addition, locations at higher elevations will be more likely to experience snow and inclement weather. What is always dependable in Colorado is the sun - both in the summer and the winter. Summers are warm and pleasant, and winters are cold and snowy. You should be prepared for travel on icy roads when driving in Southwestern Colorado, particularly in the mountains.

How to Get There

As a centrally located state, travel to Colorado is easy and convenient from any direction. Small airports are located in Telluride, Grand Junction and Durango. Direct flights are available from many locations with the bulk of the flights connecting to Salt Lake City and Denver. Bus service is available to the region as well. The best way to travel through the remote mountains and ranchland is by private or rental car, so you can explore both the towns and the rural majesty of this beautiful area.

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