When meeting in Colorado’s smaller communities, it’s possible to get a clear sense of place through tapping distinct local venues, engaging local speakers and food producers, trying out the culinary and beverage scene, and booking unique activities like going on a snowshoe tour with a naturalist or hiking and lunching with a lama. Many of the state’s small towns are used to hosting groups and all sorts of travelers due to a vibrant tourism economy and have the facilities and amenities to do so. Even Colorado’s tiniest towns like Gateway hosts groups in style with a distinct property like Gateway Canyons.
Southwest & South Central
This area of the state packs a powerful punch in terms of jaw-dropping beauty, lack of crowds and distinct vibes. Pagosa Springs has a variety of hot springs for pre-or post-meeting relaxation along with a performing arts center and community center that groups can rent. Durango is only 60 miles to the west and has one of the state’s most vibrant downtowns featuring three historic hotels, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot and museum, and access to the Animas River. Ouray and Telluride also are at the heart of southwest Colorado, with Ouray being dubbed “Little Switzerland” and Telluride familiar to many for it’s historic downtown with waterfall views. A free gondola connects the town to Mountain Village, where the ski area and a majority of the meeting and event spaces and full-service hotels are located.
Slightly more in the south central section of Colorado, Gunnison is the gateway to the Gunnison-Crested Valley and home to Western State University that has quality meeting and event spaces for groups. Only 30 miles to the north, Crested Butte and Mt.Crested Butte are enveloped in alpine and wildflower wonder and are known for outstanding skiing, biking, festivals and more. Just over the mountains are Buena Vista and Salida communities that are all about hot springs, rafting, riverfront venues and more.
Roaring Fork Valley
Glenwood Springs is a worthy start to the northernmost part of Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley with two top-notch hot springs attractions, iconic historic hotels, a mountaintop adventure park, a ski area and more. Aspen and Snowmass farther south have worldwide name recognition and many great options for groups, including four ski areas, top-notch venues that are in town and on mountaintops, and all sorts of fun things to do after meetings wrap up or as breaks. Carbondale, located between the two and Glenwood Springs, is a hidden gem and home to Marble Distilling Co., where groups can help bottle spirits, gather and stay in the four guest rooms above. Nearby, the charming tiny town of Redstone is rich in history and the amazing Redstone Castle has been restored and recently reopened.
Vail and Beaver Creek also are familiar names across the globe and like Aspen and Snowmass have the capacity to host larger groups through properties working together. “Together we are better” could be the motto for this area as these towns have perfected the art of walking conferences and along with other small towns like Minturn, Avon and Edwards promote together under the umbrella of one destination marketing organization, Vail Valley Partnership. Vail is the place you can line up a lunch and hike with lamas, and it is hard to beat lounging in Vail Village and around the base village of Beaver Creek. Looking for a surprise destination with access to Vail and Beaver Creek? Check out Minturn for small meetings and retreats.
Winter Park continues to expand its capacity with new activities and amenities at Winter Park Resort and a brand new venue in town, Headwaters Center. Grand County also has a variety of guest ranches to book, including two high-end and highly worthy options: C Lazy U Ranch in Granby and Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash. YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby is a huge playground with all sorts of options for lodging and meeting space and farther north is a true hidden gem, Grand Lake, which sits at one of the entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).
Estes Park is another iconic community with its fair share of Colorado mountain charm and an ideal location as the other, yet “larger town” entrance to RMNP. Estes Park Events Complex, YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, properties like the historic Stanley Hotel introducing attractive new meeting and event spaces, and more make Estes Park a town to consider. Also in northern Colorado, Steamboat Springs joins Glenwood Springs, Pagosa Springs, Buena Vista and Salida as destinations located on the state’s Historic Hot Springs Loop. Standout features are two hot springs, a well-known ski area with year-round action, a classic Western vibe and a variety of restaurants that can serve groups.
Like the Roaring Fork Valley, Summit County has an amazing selection of ski resorts for groups to choose from that are pros at hosting groups, with familiar names like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone. The largest mountain town conference center is in Keystone, and Copper Mountain has a good-sized one as well. Breckenridge also has a lot of options and a bustling Victorian downtown that is always memorable to explore and has a wealth of places to dine and socialize. Frisco is Summit County’s hidden gem and has the added bonus of being located alongside Lake Dillon for a variety of water activities.
Colorado small towns pack a powerful punch with a huge range of great options for groups!