Looking for cheap Colorado vacation ideas where you can enjoy a great family trip without breaking your bank? From the first-class ski resorts, plenty of outdoor adventure activities to cultural attractions and picturesque State Parks, you will find a little bit of everything on a Colorado vacation on a budget.
You will be surprised to know that there are so many cheap places to live in Colorado. Many people from the neighboring states (like California and Texas) are moving to Colorado for better living at a more affordable rate. Colorado has so many budget-friendly ski resorts, hotels, and free attractions and you can save a lot of your hard-earned money when you visit these cheap places in Colorado.
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Whether you travel solo or with family, peak season or off-season, here is our list of 10 most inexpensive places in Colorado where you can enjoy a ton of fun without burning a hole in your pocket.
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Located in San Juan County in southwestern Colorado, this little mountain town, Silverton, is an ideal relaxing spot for people yearning for a cheap Colorado vacation. Less crowd, budget-friendly activities, and an abundance of affordable hotels and cheap scenic campgrounds make it one of the cheapest cities in Colorado.
From hiking and mountain biking in summer to skiing and snowmobiling in winter, Silverton has numerous recreational activities throughout the year. The best thing about this mountain town is that Silverton is still preserving its authentic old charm.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Silverton
- Stroll Through Historic Downtown of Silverton. This pretty downtown is filled with shops, restaurants, old-fashioned saloons, museums, and beautiful churches, and more.
- Hike the 7-mile roundtrip Ice Lake Trail. It is one of the best hikes in Colorado that offers stunning views of several waterfalls and wildflower-filled meadows.
- Drive through Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway. This historic highway is popular for its scenic route as well as challenging winding narrow lanes.
- Explore the former mining towns which are located in remote areas. Anima Forks is one of the best mining towns in the Silverton area.
Suggested Budget for Silverton
Hotel(2 people): $100-150
#2 Estes Park: Cheap Colorado Vacation
Looking for some cheap Colorado vacation ideas? Visit Estes Park, located in Mile High city it is a hidden gem in Colorado and one of the most popular weekend getaways from Denver. There are a lot of budget-friendly fun things to do in Estes Park, so budget travelers definitely want to visit this place for a weekend adventure.
Plenty of affordable lodging options are available within 2miles of the park. You can save more money on accommodation by reserving a campsite in Estes Park KOA campground. Book in advance to save some bucks for your romantic cabin getaway in Colorado.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Estes Park
- Estes Park Visitor Center should be your first stop after arriving in this park. Get the free maps, latest information, weather forecasts from the local guides.
- Take a romantic stroll with your partner along the Estes Riverwalk. On the way, you can explore the downtown area too.
- The Estes Riverwalk ultimately meets the Lake Estes where you can walk with your dog or ride your bike. Watch the wildlife, fish and spend some relaxing time with your family.
- Discover the ruins of a stone cabin which is located within walking distance of downtown. It also offers spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
- Attend the free events and festivals held in the downtown area almost every summer weekend.
- Drive through the scenic Peak to Peak Scenic Byway and enjoy the color of the leaves in the fall season.
Suggested Budget for Estes Park
#3 Fort Collins
From various types of outdoor activities to natural wonders and attractions, Fort Collins has a lot of fun and budget-friendly things to offer its visitors looking for a cheap weekend getaway in Colorado. The iconic Horsetooth Mountain is the main highlight of Fort Collins. It draws the maximum crowds from the entire country.
The best thing about Fort Collins is that you can explore this fourth largest city in the state by renting a bike. The countless hotels, Airbnb, cabins, and other types of accommodations for all budget levels can be found here throughout the year making this Colorado retreat for less than you’d expect.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Fort Collins
- No need to buy a ticket to access the free zone of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. See the restored grand piano and learn more about the local history by seeing their large collection of books, photos, and maps.
- If you are a cartoon lover, you can watch the cartoons in the Lyrics Cinema from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Take part in the free events organized by the Poudre Valley Library District. From storytime and special art classes to modern gadgets or website designing, there you will find so many free events.
- Sign up for free Brewery Tours and learn about the brewing process in detail from a talented brewmaster. Even you can sample on this free tour. New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and Fort Collins Brewery all offer free tours.
- Visit Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural area to spot the bald eagles. Volunteer master naturalists share the history of these eagles and help visitors to spot them through binoculars.
Suggested Budget for Fort Collins
#4 Grand Junction
Grand Junction could be a great place for a cheap family vacation in Colorado. Located in the west-central part of the state at the confluence of Colorado and Gunnison river, Grand Junction is one of the best places to visit in Colorado.
The Western Slope of the Rockies offers a ton of outdoor attractions, natural beauty, and adventure activities including white water rafting, mountain biking, and hiking. Grand Junction’s efficient transportation system, walkable areas, and free attractions are perfect for exploring the city on a budget.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Grand Junction
- Hike one of the many paved trails along the Colorado River. All of these local trails are beautiful and easily accessible and some of these are dog-friendly too. You can enjoy a bike ride on these paved Riverfront sidewalk trails. Some remarkable trails are Mt. Garfield, Ute Petroglyph Trail, Colorado Monument Trail, Dinosaur Hill Trail.
- Driving through scenic byways in Grand Junction is a must. There are three byways near this area, of which Dinosaur Diamond Scenic & Historic Byway offers the most spectacular scenery.
- Grand Junction’s Main Street is home to several local businesses, art galleries, bars, restaurants, and tattoo shops. There are also concert venues that host symphonies, orchestras, and other shows that are popular among the locals.
- Visit the Colorado National Monument, a popular landmark of Grand Junction. You can drive to the top or hike the scenic Colorado Monument Trail. This area is filled with desert and sandstone cliffs.
- If you have kids, visit Canyon View Park that features different types of activities with a small playground, pond, trails, and many more. Moreover, it is a nice place to walk with your dogs.
Suggested Budget for Grand Junction
#5 Red Feather Lakes
Summer is the best season to visit Colorado not only for the warm weather but also for countless outdoor activities. This is the season when most people start to explore this beautiful state. As a result, flight and hotel prices tend to be higher than in other seasons.
However, Red Feather Lakes is still affordable even in the summer months. That’s why it is a hot destination for people who are looking for cheap summer vacations in Colorado.
Located just 45 miles west of Fort Collins, Red Feather Lakes is a year-round destination that offers a bounty of activities, gorgeous scenery, diverse wildlife, scenic hiking trails for families, couples, and individuals who are seeking peace and solitude far from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Red Feather Lakes
- Outdoor enthusiasts would love to visit this mountain town in Colorado. Summer is the season for hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, and fishing.
- Winter is also popular here. You can enjoy cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice skating in winter.
- Visit the Shambhala Mountain Center Buddhist Retreat, where you can do meditation and yoga sessions to rejuvenate your body and soul. This Buddhist temple is open to visitors of all religions.
- Discover the old deserted homesteads that are still standing. You can relate to the lifestyle of the 1900s while exploring this untouched area.
Suggested Budget for Red Feather Lakes
Recommended Read: 15 Pros and Cons of Living in Colorado: Truth of Colorado Life
#6 Colorado Springs
If you are into adventure and are looking for some stunning landscapes, look no further than Colorado Springs. Located in the Pikes Peak area in El Paso County, Colorado Springs is the ultimate family vacation spot in Colorado.
Colorado Springs features amazing natural sights, attractions, incredible scenery, outdoor adventures, vibrant culture, and rich history that you don’t want to miss. Most importantly, it is more affordable than you think.
Lodging can be expensive near the downtown area, but if you book far in advance, cabins can be found at an affordable price, and campers will find a ton of options for pitching a tent. It is not hard to make a fantastic weekend trip to Colorado Springs on a budget.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Colorado Springs
- Garden of the Gods is one of the most popular attractions in Colorado. This is a registered National Natural Landmark. It features some marvelous red rock formations. You can find educational activities and interactive exhibits in the Visitor and Nature Center and Museum.
- Pay a visit to the Pioneer Museum. It is completely free for visitors. The museum is open year-round and features exhibits and events on the history and culture of the town, Pikes Peak, and the surrounding area.
- There are a total of 8 springs at Manitou Springs where you can get free access and can taste the healing power of the waters.
- If you consider yourself as an avid hiker, give Manitou Incline a try. It is a tough trail and is not for unfit people. Once you reach the top(2000 feet of elevation), the spectacular views will help to heal your muscle pain. Make sure to wear a proper hiking boot while hiking Manitou Incline. Check out the top 10 most beautiful hikes in Colorado Springs.
- Open year-round, United States Airforce Academy is a free attraction where you can learn about the lifestyle of the training cadet, enjoy the scenic trails, and see Cadet Chapel, famous for its unique architecture.
- Go to Cripple Creek Heritage Center and enjoy the hands-on exhibits and learn about the old days of the World’s Best Gold camp.
Suggested Budget for Colorado Springs
#7 Nederland and the Indian Peaks Wilderness
Located just 41 miles south of Estes Park, Nederland is one of the best places to visit in Colorado on a budget. It will take around 1 hour if you come through Hwy 7 and Hwy 72. Although it is not as renowned as other popular Colorado cities like Denver, Colorado Spring, but you will not be disappointed.
Nederland and the Indian Peaks Wilderness are the perfect places for people who value nature, calmness, and privacy. You will never see a huge crowd at this hidden mountain treasure of Indian Peaks Wilderness.
The best time to visit this region during the fall when you will get to see wildflower-filled tundra and incredible fall foliage in the mountains.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Nederland and the Indian Peaks Wilderness
- Head to Frozen Dead Guy Days festival that held in March for three days of music and unusual events such as coffin racing, icy turkey bowling, frozen t-shirt contests, costumed polar plunging, and many more.
- Check out the Nederland Mining Museum which is free to all visitors. The museum displays mining trams, engines, ore carts, rare photographs, and historic mining claim maps.
- Located in the heart of Nederland, Chipeta Park is a local community park perfect for families with playgrounds and picnic areas.
- Explore the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and its numerous hiking trails. From easy family-friendly trails (Mud Lake Trail) to moderate trails(like West Magnolia Loop Trail, Diamond Lake), this area has trails for everyone.
- There are many opportunities for lake fishing, mountain biking, and camping. You can pitch your tent for free near the historic Moffat Tunnel.
Suggested Budget for Nederland and the Indian Peaks Wilderness
Colorado is one of the best states in America for skiing. You may doubt if a cheap Colorado ski vacation is even possible. No worries. You can find it at Ski Cooper near Leadville. It may not be as popular as Aspen or Vail, accommodation is far cheaper. Leadville is a perfect cheap place to stay in Colorado and the highest incorporated city in the country.
From the pretty Victorian inns to affordable hotels, along with several museums, inexpensive ski resorts, and historic sights, Leadville is a perfect family-friendly city in Colorado.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Leadville
- Walking around Downtown Leadville is one of the best free things to do in Leadville. Thi impressive historic downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Head to Harrison Avenue which boasts several blocks of shopping and dining.
- Admire the beauty of Colorado’s tallest mountain, Mount Elbert that lies just outside town, as does the second largest. Mountain Massive another tall mountain that sits beside Mount Elbert.
- Located just 5 miles west of Leadville’s historic district, Turquoise Lake is a stunning blue lake where you can enjoy fishing and boating in the summer. You can camp by the lake, stay close to nature and save some extra bucks.
- Fishing in nearby Arkansas River and Twin Lakes is popular year-round. If you visit in winter, get the taste of unique ice fishing.
Suggested Budget for Leadville
#9 Glenwood Springs
Numerous hiking trails, climbing opportunities, free attractions, and outdoor activities, and moreover the inexpensive accommodation options – All help to make an affordable vacation in Colorado.
Glenwood Springs has many natural hot springs and inexpensive ski resorts that visitors can enjoy without breaking their banks. You can visit Glenwood Springs at any time of the year. Summer and winter both have their own beauty, but during the winter months, you will get more hotel deals.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Glenwood Springs
- Glenwood is home to many gorgeous hikes of which Hanging Lake is the most beautiful hikes in the area. This is relatively a short(3 miles) hike but it is steep and rocky. So, it can be treacherous but the spectacular views of the clear lake water and the waterfalls justify its difficulty level.
- Glenwood Canyon is the mecca for rock climbers. If you have climbing gears, bring them when visiting Glenwood. There is plenty of rock and ice climbing opportunities in the main canyon and side canyons.
- Music lovers can enjoy free concerts and musical events every Wednesday night during the summer.
- Enjoy a relaxing family picnic by the Colorado River while listening to local bands.
- Glenwood Springs has many paved biking trails along the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers. Just rent a mountain bike and explore the trails at your own pace.
Suggested Budget for Glenwood Springs
#10 Steamboat Springs
Like other mountain towns of Colorado, Steamboat Springs is also famous for its ski resorts, but here you can do it at cheap. The city houses several inexpensive hot springs that you won’t find in popular cities like Aspen and Vail.
In summer, the nearby Yampa River Valley and the surrounding area are transformed into a magical wonderland for outdoor adventures. Staying in a camp would be more affordable and adventurous than staying in a hotel. Affordable campsites are available at Steamboat Lake State Park or Stagecoach State Park.
For its affordable lodging, food options, and lesser crowd all year round, many people come here who are looking for a cheap weekend getaway in Colorado.
Cheap or Free Things to do in Steamboat Springs
- Downtown Steamboat Springs is a charming place that features boutique shops, cute restaurants, and plenty of photo ops. Couples looking for a cheap Colorado vacation must visit this historic downtown.
- Hike the Yampa River Core Trail, a spectacular walking and non-motorized biking trail that goes along the Yampa River.
- Visit the Fish Creek Falls which is just a short walk distance from downtown Steamboat Springs. This 280-foot cataract is the most popular waterfalls in the region.
- Explore Steamboat Spring’s natural and Western history by attending one of many free walking tours organized by Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Suggested Budget for Steamboat Springs
FAQ about Cheapest Colorado Vacation Spots
1. Where is the best and cheapest mountain town in Colorado?
A: Pagosa Springs and Manitou Springs are not too expensive and offer plenty of things to do on a budget. Since these places are not near Vale, Aspen you can find hotels at a reasonable rate.
2. What are the great and cheap family vacation spots in Colorado?
A: Estes Park and Colorado Springs are pretty affordable places to visit in Colorado and offer various types of family-friendly activities.
3. Where should I go for a cheap romantic weekend getaway in Colorado?
A: Looking for an inexpensive honeymoon destination in Colorado? Glenwood Springs could be a perfect romantic place for couples where you can enjoy a lovely vacation with your better half.