Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Colorado's most genuinely Western mountain town has Rocky Mountain beauty and unpretentious authenticity. Beneath Sleeping Giant mountain, the 12,000-foot Flat Tops, and the sharp, solitary summit of Hahns Peak are working cattle ranches spread over undulating green hills that give the town a feeling of big-sky spaciousness.
Downtown, with its century-old red-brick buildings, has an old-school soda fountain (complete with cream sodas and a jukebox) and shops like F.M. Light & Sons, a 100-year-old Western-wear store. Locals head to the pro rodeo on weekends to eat barbecued ribs and watch big names from all over the country compete. If you're not in town for a race, marathon, or triathlon, chase thrills at the Emerald Mountain quarry, where you can conquer 8.8 miles of singletrack and soak up some unforgettable valley views. Soak sore quads afterward at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a set of secluded, natural-stone pools full of 104-degree mineral water. Trade the campground for dispersed camping on Buffalo Pass and thank us later.
Getting There: Fly to Denver; drive three and a half hours northwest.
For more information, visit visitsteamboat.com.