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Where to Stay in Olympic National Park: A Complete Guide

Olympic National Park is a stunning natural wonderland with nearly a million acres that is a place you can keep coming back to and always discover something new. Between the serene beaches and the lush rainforest, you’ll find solitude and incredible scenery around every bend in the road, making it a perfect long weekend getaway from Seattle and the surrounding area. The massive park is a hop, skip, and a jump from Seattle, so it’s easy to get to. One trip won’t be nearly enough to see all four major regions of the park, so I bet you’ll want to plan your second trip once you get out there for the first time.

In this guide, you’re going to discover the best places to stay in Olympic National Park so your adventure can go off without a hitch and you can find the perfect place to stay for your style and budget.

One important note: Olympic National Park is ENORMOUS. It’s going to make your life a lot easier if, rather than staying in one place to explore the entire thing, you move around a bit. For most people, that means staying in Port Angeles / Lake Crescent for a couple of nights to get to Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent, and then staying in Forks for a night or two to explore the Pacific Beaches and Hoh Rainforest.

Make sure to read my Olympic National Park itinerary to help plan an unforgettable trip that will have you exploring the rugged mountains, serene lakes, and sandy beaches of this incredible gem in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’re into hiking, you won’t want to miss my guide to the best hikes in Olympic National Park.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Where to Stay in Olympic National Park: A Complete Guide to the Best Places to Stay

While there aren’t any hotels in Olympic National Park itself, there are plenty of historic lodges, great vacation rental options, campgrounds, and other types of lodging on the outskirts.

There are a few towns and villages surrounding the park that all offer something different.

Since this park is gigantic, there are different regions that each provide a unique kind of experience. I’ll give you the rundown of each one so that you can decide on what sort of magical wonderland you want to explore.

An Overview of the Park’s Regions

If you want to know where to stay in Olympic National Park, you should first know about the regions of the park. There are five major regions of Olympic National Park. These are:

    Hurricane Ridge – This region features towering mountains on the North side of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s easy to get to from all points east, like Seattle, and it also sits just 17 miles south of Port Angeles.

  • La Push Beaches – Rialto, First, Second, and Third Beach will all provide you with million-dollar sunsets and views onto the sea stacks with cliffs rising up from the sea. Make sure to look up too! you might spot the elusive Bald Eagle waiting patiently for its next meal (we saw two).
  • Ruby Beach – This beach lays where the Hoh River meets the Pacific Ocean. If you want to see starfish, different kinds of crabs, and mystical-looking sea stacks, this is a great beach to visit.
  • Kalaloch Beach – This popular beach is incredibly wide and a sandy reprieve from the usual rocky Washington beaches. You will have the highest chance of successful bird watching here.

For most people, who only have a long weekend, you’re likely going to be focused on Hurricane Ridge, La Push, and the Hoh Rainforest.

The Best Places to Stay to Explore Each Region

There are plenty of places you can stay within each region. I think it’s important to emphasize just how huge this park is before going any further.

If you were to decide to stay in one place, you’d end up doing a lot of driving.

Depending on how much time you have, I’d recommend staying in different places during your trip. This will drastically reduce how much driving you’re doing. For example, if you stayed in Port Angeles for your entire trip, it would be a four-hour round trip to get to the Hoh Rainforest!

    Port Angeles: This is an area you will want to stay at if you want quick and easy access to Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent. There are some great cabins near Lake Sutherland, which is a nice middle ground between the two locations.

Unless you have more than three days or so, I’d stick to staying in Port Angeles and Forks to explore the three areas I mentioned above, otherwise you’re going to spend more time driving than exploring.

Camping in the Park

Since this is a National Park, there are tons of camping options. If you’re like most people who visit the park for an overnight stay or multi-day, you might be looking to do some camping.

There are three reservable options for you inside the park. This means that there’s no chance that you’ll be fighting off others for a camping spot. This park can get crowded at certain times of the year, which is why I highly recommend booking a camping reservation way in advance.

The three main campgrounds that you can reserve in advance are Kalaloch, Sol Doc, and Mora. We’ve stayed at Sol Duc and Mora on our most recent trips, and both are about as nice as any national park campground we’ve ever stayed at.

The rest of the available campground options operate on a first-come, first-serve basis and will get very busy during the summer. You can see a full list of all the campgrounds available here.

The Best Places to Stay in Olympic National Park

I’m going to go through each region of the park and give you the best places to stay in Olympic National Park. This is meant to give you a menu of great options to choose from based on your style and budget. Obviously you’re not going to stay at a luxury lodge (not that there’s many of those here) if you’re on a shoestring budget, so you’ll find a range of options.

Best Places to Stay Near Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent

The following are the best places to stay at that are situated near Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent.

Port Angeles is a great place to stay if you prefer being closer to a city with all the amenities (gas, restaurants, food, etc).

Overall, my top recommendations in this area would be camping at Heart ‘o Hills Campground, or finding a vacation rental in Port Angeles or near Lake Sutherland.

For what it’s worth, this rustic treehouse and this coastal retreat caught my eye.

The lodges, while gorgeous, are outdated and relatively expensive for what you get.

Hotels and Lodges

There are three hotel and lodge options in this area.

Lake Crescent Lodge

Lake Crescent Lodge sits on the shores of, you guessed it, the magnificent Lake Crescent. It’s around 17 miles from Port Angeles and 30 miles from Forks, and features 52 accommodations, as well as a restaurant. This lodge is close to hiking attractions like Mount Storm King, Marymere Falls, and others.

Unfortunately, like most National Park Lodges, the value for the money isn’t great. But the location is, so there’s that.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

A charming resort that features soothing hot springs is awaiting you at Sol Doc Hot Spring Resort. Rustic, yet comfortable, the rooms that are available will be great options as places for you to stay while you hike around the park. It’s surrounded by beautiful evergreens, while nestled in a gorgeous valley. After a long hike, you will love having the ability to soak in the hot springs on the property.

I have the same issue with this place as with the one above – the value for the money leaves something to be desired. Though the location is awesome.

Olympic Lodge

Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles is a very comfortable, rustic, and charming hotel on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s right off Highway 101 and close to attractions like Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent. There’s even a pool and bistro when you want to relax after your hike.

Vacation Rentals Near Port Angeles

If you’re more of a vacation rental kind of person, like us, you’ll love the following stays in and around Port Angeles, which is a great area to stay to explore Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent.

In particular, the area along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the area around Lake Sutherland are probably your best bets.

Although we usually camp on our trips to National Parks because it’s part of the experience we’re looking for, we’re big fans of vacation rentals, and usually opt for them over hotels and lodges when we have a choice and we’re not in a city, where we prefer hotels.

A Rustic Cabin Getaway On the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Imagine staying in a rustic cabin that’s sitting right on the beach in Port Angeles. With ocean views from the comfort and warmth of your cozy bed. This cabin doesn’t have electricity, but it does run all appliances on propane. Also, if you enjoy a nice and cozy wood-burning stove for those chilly evenings, then you’re in luck because this cabin has one. Plus, it’s LITERALLY right on the water.

That place booked? The host has two other listings nearby, which are essentially the same:

A Unique Treehouse in Port Angeles

A tree house? Sign me up! This gorgeous treehouse property has views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the living room, along with a kitchen and a shared firepit that overlooks the ocean.

This is a super unique stay on the Olympic Peninsula, and makes a great rustic weekend getaway from Seattle.

It’s worth noting that it’s about 45 minutes away from Lake Crescent and Hurricane Ridge, which is plenty close for a day trip to either location. Still, this property is worth the drive, we think.

lakefront houses on Lake Sutherland

Lake Sutherland, which is just east of Lake Crescent (roughly five miles away), is a great home base for families and groups who want plenty of space and a waterfront property. Since there’s not really too many options on Lake Crescent, this is your best bet for a lakefront stay.

There are a bunch of options along the north shore, which is right off of 101 and puts you in a good spot for exploring the areas around Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent. Here are a couple of places that caught our eyes:

Sunny Lake Sutherland Charmer (sleeps 4-8): Right on the lake with its own dock! Two bedrooms with a variety of other sleeping options, like a murphy bed.

Lakefront Home with All the Amenities (sleeps 6-8): Amazing wraparound deck with plenty of room for groups and families looking to explore Olympic National Park.

Camping Options

If you’re looking to go as rustic as it gets, then here are three great camping options.

Heart o’ Hills Campground

This is a first-come, first-serve campground. Heart o’ Hills is situated nearby the Hurricane Ridge trailhead and is surrounded by old-growth forest. Given its location, it’s a very popular campground, so make sure you come early enough to snag a spot.

Fairholme Campground

Fairholme is another first-come, first-serve campground that provides you with direct access to Fairholme Beach. There are 88 sites and a lot of RV traffic. The campsites are surrounded by stunning Douglas firs and western red cedars.

Sol Duc Campground

You can reserve a spot at Sol Duc Campground in advance, which is what we did before hiking the High Divide Trail for the next few days. It’s located right by the Sol Duc River, which is at the edge of the backcountry of Olympic National Park. There are hot spring pools you can enjoy after your treks in the park.

Forks & La Push: Best Place to Stay to Explore Pacific Beaches and Hoh Rainforest

If you’re looking to explore the Coast and Hoh Rainforest, there are some great options in Forks and La Push.

Hotels & Lodges near Forks

If you want to be able to return to a warm, comfortable room after a day out exploring, here are some great hotel and lodge options that caught my eye.

Quillayute River Resort

Located in the town of Forks, Quillayute River Resort has several suites available, each with a full kitchen. This gem has gracious hosts and features gorgeous river views. The Quillayute River meets the Pacific Ocean, so you’ll have access to the stunning coastal beaches in the area.

Manitou Lodge

Located between Forks and La Push, Manitou Lodge has that classic lodge look, with a high-vaulted ceiling and enormous stone fireplace. If you want a place that has Native American and Pacific Northwest artistic charm, then this is the place for you.

Quileute Oceanside Resort

For an even closer stay to the coastal beaches, Quileute Oceanside Resort is the tranquil resort to choose. The Quileute Nation has provided its land to act as a base camp for your trekking throughout the Coast and Olympic National Park wilderness. There are dozens of oceanfront cabins on this gorgeous property.

Vacation Rental Options in Forks / La Push

There are some nice vacation rentals near Forks that would make a lovely home base for exploring the Pacific beaches and Hoh Rainforest. Here are our top picks in the area.

Rustic Tiny Home Cabin in Forks (sleeps 2)

This cozy tiny house is a rustic cabin that’s just a few minutes away from Forks and the Sol Duc River. You’ll be able to enjoy serenity on a covered porch and later on have a fire going in the fire pit.

It’s cozy, so don’t expect a ton of room here, but it has everything you might need for a couple of days exploring the coast and the rainforest nearby.

There are actually two nearly identical cabins here – Cabin 1 // Cabin 2.

Wild West Coast Getaway (sleeps up to 6)

This charming house has three bedrooms with plenty of space for groups and families to spread out a little bit. Plus, it has a nice kitchen that has everything you need to cook your own meals here, minus the groceries, which you’ll need to bring from home or pick up in the town of Forks. Lucky for you, this home is fairly central to Forks, so it’ll be a short journey into town.

Spend the evening around the firepit in the backyard, or soaking in the hot tub after a long day of hiking and exploring.

Camping Near the Beaches

There are two great campgrounds to choose from on the Western side of Olympic National Park that I recommend. Either one of these will be a good base camp for your outdoor adventures – we stayed at Mora, which you can reserve in advance.

Mora Campground

Situated in a coastal forest filled with mossy trees, Mora Campground is also nearby Rialto Beach, which gives you quick access to the breathtaking Coast. There are nearly 100 campsites here, which are just a short walk from the banks of the Quillayute River.

Bogachiel State Park

Another great – and less popular – option in Forks is Bogachiel State Park. This campground is 127 acres, meaning plenty of room for you to pitch your tent. It’s a great base for exploring the entire western region of Olympic National Park.

Southern Coast & Lake Quinault

The last region I’ll go over is the Southern Coast and Lake Quinault area. This is going to be a place that’s more sparse when it comes to places to stay, with only a few lodges and campgrounds in the area.

Unfortunately, there are very limited vacation rental stays available here at this time – although we did come across this large property along the shore that would be a perfect getaway for groups!

While that could change, for now, you’ll have to look for something else, like lodges and campgrounds.

Hotels & Lodges

The lodges and hotels in this region are minimal. Still, there are two great historic lodge options to consider if you don’t want to camp.

Kalaloch Lodge

Located on the Southern Coast, Kalaloch Lodge is situated right on the cliffs of the Southern Coast. You will have extraordinary views from your stay, There are evergreen forests all around the lodge, helping provide the laid back charm that you will come to enjoy.

Lake Quinault Lodge

If you want to stay at a PNW-style lodge that is disconnected from the modern world, then Lake Quinault Lodge is a fantastic place to stay. This rustic lodge is nearly 100 years old and will feel like a home away from home. You’ll even have a lakeside views of tranquil Lake Quinault.

Camping Near Lake Quinault

This area of the park has several camping options, including several that you can reserve in advance.

Kalaloch Campground

A reservable campground on the Southern Coast is Kalaloch Campground. There are 168 campsites located on a high bluff near the Pacific Ocean. You can easily and quickly get to the beach from this campground.

Falls Creek Campground

Another place to pitch your tent is Falls Creek Campground, which you can also reserve in advance. This one is located right on the shores of Lake Quinault. There are just 31 campsites, so make sure you reserve your campsite as soon as you know when you want to visit Olympic National Park.

Wallaby Campground

A third reservable campground, Wallaby Campground, is also alongside Lake Quinault. There are even fewer campsites here than at Falls Creek, so if you want to stay somewhere surrounded by evergreen trees in a temperate rainforest, you will need to reserve a campsite well in advance.

Olympic National Park is a massive 1,406 square mile area that features all sorts of diverse terrain, from snow-covered mountains, to temperate rainforests, and even sandy beaches. There’s an extraordinary amount of biodiversity to explore here, which is why I recommend you take three to five days for your trip.

The best places to stay in Olympic National Park are all here, so decide on what region of the park you want to explore and pick the style of accommodation you prefer.

Planning a Trip to Olympic National Park? Make sure to check out our other travel guides for this PNW gem!

I hope you have an incredible time exploring a park that has some of the most fantastic hiking in the United States!

More to Explore in Washington State

Heading to the great state of Washington? Here are some other posts you might like.

  • The Best Things to Do in Seattle: A Local’s Complete Guide (coming SOON!)

Matt is the founder and main writer behind Wheatless Wanderlust, which he started back in 2018 as a way to share his gluten free travel guides with his fellow Celiac travelers.

Since then, Matt and his wife Alysha have visited 18 national parks, spent three months in Europe and six weeks in Colombia, and have explored every corner of the Pacific Northwest, which is where Matt grew up.

He writes super detailed guides to the places they visit, bringing together personal experience and historical context to help YOU plan an amazing trip.

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Hi! My daughter and I are planning a trip to Olympic Nat’l Park early June 2023. Flying from Chicago to Seattle and renting a car- staying approx 8 days. We love your itinerary- Hurr Ridge, Hoh, Lake Crescent to Lake Quinault. Any recommendations after Lk Quinault or should we make that our last stay before heading back to Sea-Tac airport?

Since you have so much time, I’d recommend making it up to the northwestern corner of the park (Shi Shi Beach and Cape Flattery) while you’re there.

There’s not a whole lot going on between Lake Quinault and Seattle. There are some smaller towns like Aberdeen (where Kurt Cobain is from), and some bigger cities along I-5 like Tacoma and Olympia, but none of those are our favorites.

One other thing you could do is spend a day on Whidbey Island, which we really enjoy. There’s a ferry from Port Townsend (on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula).

Hope that helps! You’re going to love that particular corner of Washington.

Matt & Alysha

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We’re so happy you’re here!

We’re Matt and Alysha, the two endlessly curious travelers behind this site.

We spent the past two years traveling, which included 18 national parks here in the United States, and an extended trip to Europe.

Recently, we have chosen to put down roots in Portland, Oregon, and look forward to exploring even more of the Pacific Northwest (Matt grew up in Seattle, so he knows it well).

We plan (and pay for) all of our own travels, and we use our first hand knowledge to write detailed travel guides to the places we love to help YOU plan an amazing trip.

Where to Stay in Colorado (Best Areas to Vacation)

With so many incredible vacation destinations, it can be confusing deciding the best place to stay in Colorado. Do you want the bustling city of Denver? The perks of a world-class ski resort in the Rocky Mountains? The less-crowded quiet of Southern Colorado?

I’m a Colorado local who has traveled all over the state, and I’m here to help you decide where to stay in Colorado during your trip. Whether you want a trendy downtown Denver hotel or a stay in a quirky 1800s mining town, I’ve got you covered!

As you plan your trip, be sure to bookmark our Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide! It’s chock-full of advice on what to bring, where to go, and what to see, all written by locals here in the state. It will be a valuable vacation guide for you.

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Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in Colorado

View of people at the lobby of The Maven Hotel

The lobby of The Maven Hotel, which is also part of the Dairy Block microdistrict in Denver

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Colorado? Here are my top picks:

  • Best in Denver – The Maven
  • Best in Boulder – St. Julien Hotel & Spa
  • Best in Colorado Springs – Great Wolf Lodge
  • Best in Aspen – The Little Nell
  • Best in Vail Valley – Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
  • Best in Breckenridge – The Bivvi Hostel

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and nice places to stay in Colorado:

8 Best Areas to Vacation & Stay in Colorado

You’ll find fun Colorado things to do in just about every part of the state. Whether you want skiing in the mountains, the quieter scenery of Northern Colorado, Denver’s museums, or the culture in Boulder, you’ll find lots to keep you busy in Colorado.

I broke this list down into the 8 areas of Colorado people are most interested in visiting. If you’d like to do several things, like visit Denver and ski in the mountains, then your best bet is to plan to stay at least one night in each place so you have enough time to enjoy each area.


Overlooking view of Downtown City Park in Denver, Colorado

Best Area For City Fun | ✨ Best Denver Hotels: The Maven • The Oxford Hotel • The Crawford

Undoubtedly, Denver is one of the best cities in stay in Colorado. It’s full of museums, sports teams, parks, and a whole lot of unique things to do! Be sure to check out Nate’s guide to what to do in Denver to help you plan your trip.

The city is big enough that you’ll likely want to rent a car with Discover Cars, especially if you want to visit nearby sights like Red Rocks or hiking paths in the foothills.

Check out our complete guide to where to stay in Denver to find your perfect stay now.

Pros of Staying in Denver:

  • Lots of great restaurants, bars, and breweries
  • Several pro sports team stadiums
  • Many museums and theaters

Con of Staying in Denver:

  • Hotels can be pricey

Denver Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for City Fun
Google Map

  • ✨ Best Denver HotelsThe Maven • The Oxford Hotel • The Crawford
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Denver
  • ️ Where to Eat – Mercantile ($$$), Bellota ($$$), Cherry Cricket ($$)
  • Where to Drink – Terminal Bar, My Brother’s Bar, Denver Beer Co
  • ️ Top Attractions– Meow Wolf Convergence Station, Red Rocks, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo
  • Denver GuidesDenver Neighborhoods, Denver Hikes, Denver Ski Resorts


Scenic view from Chautauqua Park during sunset in Colorado

Best Area For College Town Vibes | ✨ Best Boulder Hotels: Hotel Boulderado • St. Julien Hotel & Spa • Basecamp Boulder

If you’re looking for beautiful hiking trails, horseback riding, rock climbing, and mountain biking spots, then Boulder is a great option. It may be the best city to stay in Colorado for outdoor enthusiasts.

However, it’s also home to the largest college in Colorado, meaning plenty of college football games, along with cultural musical performances and a Shakespeare Festival every summer.

If you’re new to Boulder, then you’ll want to stay near Pearl Street for all the action. The Pearl Street Mall is an outdoor mall where you can browse shops, find great spots to eat, and get a drink or a cup of coffee.

Boulder is about a half hour drive from Denver, so you can spend a day there as well. Get planning your trip to Boulder with our complete guide to where to stay in Boulder.

Pros of Staying in Boulder:

  • Funky, college town vibe
  • Lots of great bars & restaurants
  • Lots of hiking & nearby nature

Con of Staying in Boulder:

  • Can be expensive

Boulder Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for College Town Vibes
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsHotel Boulderado • St. Julien Hotel & Spa • Basecamp Boulder
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Boulder
  • ️ Where to Eat – Frasca Food & Wine ($$$$), SALT ($$), The Sink ($$)
  • Where to Drink – The Bitter Bar, Taco Junky & Tequila Bar, Avery Brewing Company
  • ️ Top Boulder Attractions– Pearl Street Mall, CU Boulder campus, Chautauqua Park
  • Boulder GuidesBoulder Hikes, Boulder Day Trips

Colorado Springs

Scenic view of rock formation in Colorado

Best Area For Pikes Peak Access | ✨ Best Colorado Springs Hotels: The Broadmoor • Garden of the Gods Club & Resort • Great Wolf Lodge

Colorado Springs is the best spot to stay if you want to visit Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Manitou Springs. The city is located on the east side of the Rocky Mountains and about an hour south of Denver – close enough that you can make this your home base and still see all that Denver has to offer but at a way lower price point.

Another benefit to staying in a hotel in Colorado Springs is that there are lots of hiking trails and outdoor activities in the area. If you’re looking for the benefits of a city with easy access to the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs may be your best area to stay in Colorado.

For more tips, see my detailed guide to where to stay in Colorado Springs.

Pros of Staying in Colorado Springs:

  • Many hotels & restaurants are cheaper than Denver and Boulder
  • Close to Pikes Peak
  • Lots of outdoor activities in Colorado Springs

Con of Staying in Colorado Springs:

  • Not as urban and bustling as Denver

Colorado Springs Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Pikes Peak Access
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsThe Broadmoor • Garden of the Gods Club & Resort • Great Wolf Lodge
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Colorado Springs
  • ️ Where to Eat – Ambli Global Cuisine ($$$), Cowboy Star ($$$), Ephemera ($$$)
  • Where to Drink – The Archives Underground Libations, Cork & Cask, Shame & Regret
  • ️ Top Attractions – Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, The Broadmoor Seven Falls, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Colorado Springs GuidesColorado Springs Hikes, Colorado Springs Day Trips

Northern Colorado

View of the Mountain Lake Horsetooth Reservoir and the clear blue sky over it

Best Area For Laid Back Nature | ✨ Best Northern Colorado Hotels: Boulder Brook on Fall River • The Elizabeth Hotel • The Armstrong Hotel

Northern Colorado has a very different feel than the metro areas of Denver and Boulder. The mountains look different here, the vibe is less urban and more relaxed, and everyone loves going on outdoor adventures. Two big colleges, Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, also bring plenty of students to the area.

Estes Park, a town just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, is a big Northern Colorado draw and a great place to make your home base while you explore the park. It’s full of wildlife sightings, hiking trails, and forested wilderness. Steamboat Springs, also in Northern Colorado, makes for a great mountain retreat.

Pros of Staying in Northern Colorado:

  • Lots of spots most tourists don’t visit
  • Close to Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Small college towns

Con of Staying in Northern Colorado:

  • Many Colorado landmarks are farther south

Northern Colorado Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Laid Back Nature
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsBoulder Brook on Fall River • The Elizabeth Hotel • The Armstrong Hotel
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Northern Colorado
  • ️ Where to Eat – Bird & Jim ($$$), Ginger and Baker ($$), Waltzing Kangaroo ($)
  • Where to Drink – The Wheel Bar, Social, Road 34
  • ️ Top Attractions – Rocky Mountain National Park, Historic Downtown Ft. Collins, Horsetooth Reservoir
  • Related Guides: Where to Stay in Fort Collins

Central Mountain Towns

Clara sitting on a chair with a view of nature

Many of Colorado’s central mountain ski towns are just a short drive off I-70, and are some of the best places to stay in Colorado with mountain views.

Staying in this area can be pricey, so if you’re traveling with a large group or family, it’s probably best to spend the money on a roomy hotel suite or cabin. This will help you save a little if breakfast is included, or if there’s a kitchenette. If you’re traveling solo or as a couple and really want to save, look for hostels.

Check out our guides to staying in these popular Colorado mountain towns:

  • Where to Stay in Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Where to Stay in Frisco, Colorado
  • Where to Stay in Keystone, Colorado
  • Where to Stay in Leadville, Colorado

Pros of Staying in Central Mountain Towns:

  • Close to skiing
  • Close to outdoor activities in summer
  • Many have spas and upscale shopping

Con of Staying in Central Mountain Towns:

  • Mountain resort town hotels can be pricey

Central Mountain Towns Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Skiing
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsPark Hyatt Beaver Creek • The Lodge at Breckenridge •The Arrabelle at Vail Square
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Vail
  • ️ Where to Eat – Drunken Goat ($$$), Northside Coffee & Kitchen ($$), The Maggie ($$)
  • Where to Drink – TBar, High Rockies Whiskey and Wine Bar, The Vail Brewing Company
  • ️ Top Attractions – Skiing, Ice Skating, Spas
  • Mountain Town GuidesThings to Do in Vail, Where to Stay in Vail, Things to Do in Breckenridge, Things to Do in Frisco, Things to Do in Buena Vista, Things to Do in Leadville

Western Slope

View while hiking to Hanging Lake in Colorado

The hike to Hanging Lake is a challenge, but worth it!

Best Area For Hot Springs | ✨ Best Western Slope Hotels: The Little Nell • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort • Castle Creek Manor

The Western Slope of Colorado encompasses many different areas, from Maroon Bells and the upscale Aspen ski resorts to the iconic Glenwood hot springs, and the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction.

You’ll find plenty of family fun and outdoor activities here, plus some of Colorado’s best hot springs in Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

Pros of Staying on the Western Slope:

  • Fewer crowds
  • Lots of outdoor activities

Con of Staying on the Western Slope:

  • Towns are far apart

Western Slope Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Hot Springs
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsThe Little Nell • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort • Castle Creek Manor
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Aspen
  • ️ Where to Eat – Element 47 ($$$), Slope & Hatch ($$), 626 On Rood ($$)
  • Where to Drink – Hooch, Doc Holliday’s Saloon and Restaurant, Palisade Brewing Co
  • ️ Top Attractions – Skiing, Hot Springs, Hiking

Southern Colorado

View of a rushing river while on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad takes you over craggy cliffs and by rushing rivers.

Best Area For Historic Adventures | ✨ Best Southern Colorado Hotels: New Sheridan Hotel • The Strater Hotel • Fireside Cabins

From Mesa Verde National Park to Durango and the various ghost and mining towns, you’ll get a whole lot of history in the southern Colorado area. Pagosa Springs is a great spot to pamper yourself and soak in the hot springs, and skiing in Telluride, Wolf Creek, and Purgatory can’t be beaten.

Pros of Staying in Southern Colorado:

  • Lots of outdoor activities
  • Lots of historic sites
  • Beautiful scenery

Con of Staying in Southern Colorado:

  • A far drive from Denver and more populated spots

Southern Colorado Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Historic Adventures
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsNew Sheridan Hotel • The Strater Hotel • Fireside Cabins
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Durango
  • ️ Where to Eat – La Marmotte ($$$), Ore House ($$), Kip’s Grill ($$)
  • Where to Drink – El Moro Tavern, Pagosa Bar, Liberty Lounge
  • ️ Top Attractions – Skiing, Hot Springs, Mesa Verde National Park

Quirky Small Towns

The Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville from the outside

(photo: Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock)

Best Area For Unusual Adventures | ✨ Best Quirky Small Town Hotels: Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort • Bross Hotel B & B • The Delaware Hotel

Colorado is full of funky, artsy, outdoorsy small towns that don’t get the love that the areas with fancy ski resorts do. The advantage of this is that you can vacation in these towns and find things to do that many people who visit Colorado never discover. You can also avoid the crowds of the bigger resort towns!

For ideas on cool Colorado small towns to visit, check out Abigail’s list of the 13 best small towns in Colorado.

Pros of Staying in Quirky Small Towns:

  • Off-the-beaten path activities
  • Fewer crowds
  • Less expensive restaurants, bars, and entertainment

Con of Staying in Quirky Small Towns:

  • Fewer conveniences
  • Possibly a much longer drive to the airport and other sites

Quirky Small Towns Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for Unusual Adventures
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsMt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort • Bross Hotel B & B • The Delaware Hotel
  • ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Creede
  • ️ Where to Eat – Simple Eatery & Spoon It Up ($$), Quincys Steak & Spirits ($), Tommyknocker Tavern
  • Where to Drink – The Slammer, The Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon, Kip’s Grill
  • ️ Top Attractions – Rafting, Hiking, Antiquing

Tips for Staying in Colorado

Plan Your Colorado Trip in Advance

As you can see from the summaries above, Colorado has a variety of activities and places to visit. However, many of these things are quite a far distance from each other.

If you want to see the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park but also stop in Denver to explore, that’s a six-hour-plus drive. Not to mention, if you’re planning to drive from Denver to ski in the central mountain towns off I-70, traffic on weekends can also be a big issue.

Set realistic expectations for what you will see and how long it will take you to get there. If you’re visiting in late fall, winter, or spring, check the weather for storms as well – those will definitely affect your travel!

If you’re looking for more ideas for what to do in Colorado, check out our Ultimate Colorado Travel Guide.

Take Time to Acclimate to the Elevation

Landing in Denver, you’ll already be a mile above sea level, and it’s likely that many things you want to do here will take you to even higher altitudes.

If you’re planning to ski, hike, or try other outdoor activities, then give yourself a day or so to acclimate to Colorado’s elevation first. Do some easy sightseeing by checking out historic main streets, or heading to a museum before tackling a long hike or spending a day skiing.


One easy way to help acclimate to the higher elevation is to drink plenty of water. Bring a water bottle along while sightseeing, and definitely bring at least one and possibly several when you hike, mountain bike, or exercise.

If you plan to get out in the mountains and do some hiking, check out the super cool Grayl filtration water bottle.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen

Colorado gets at least some sun on most days of the year, and it’s easy to burn here. Bring a good sunscreen and reapply it frequently throughout the day.

People with their backpack on a hike in Colorado during summer

Pack Smart for Colorado

Bringing everything you need on your Colorado trip (without bogging yourself down) is an art. Abigail has a helpful Colorado packing list, which includes 23 things that many people forget when they’re visiting Colorado.

Know the 420 Laws

We’re a green state…and not just in an eco-friendly way! If you’re planning on smoking pot while visiting Colorado, then make sure you read up on the laws of Colorado marijuana use beforehand.

Don’t Stay by the Airport

If you’re looking for a spot to stay the night before you fly out, or you’re getting in late and want a nearby spot to crash, then the hotels near DIA are a great choice.

However, if you’re looking for where to stay in Colorado near Denver or other Colorado attractions, then don’t stay near the airport. It’s a half-hour drive from the airport to downtown Denver, and even farther to the mountains.

If you’re planning to spend time in Denver, be sure to check out Nate’s guide to where to stay in Denver for more ideas!

FAQs About Where to Stay in Colorado

What is the most beautiful place to stay in Colorado?

Telluride is the most beautiful place to stay in Colorado. Telluride is situated in a box canyon in southern Colorado and is known for both gorgeous mountain views and for the historic buildings that line Main Street. See our guide to things to do in Telluride for more.

Which part of Colorado should I visit?

You should visit Denver on a trip to Colorado. The capital city has a variety of museums, performing arts centers, stores, and well-regarded restaurants, all set against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park is about a ninety-minute drive from Denver, and is another must-see destination.

Is Denver or Colorado Springs better for vacation?

Denver is better for a vacation if this is your first time traveling to Colorado. There are many things to do in Denver and it’s just a short drive to hiking and sightseeing in the mountains. Although it is cheaper to stay in Colorado Springs, it’s best to spend the money and stay in Denver.

When should I visit Colorado?

You should visit Colorado from March to May or September to October. Those months are considered the off-season, and you’ll find cheaper rates and fewer crowds.

How many days do you need to visit Colorado?

You’ll need one week to visit Colorado if you want to spend time in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want to explore southern Colorado, including the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park or the breathtaking town of Telluride, you’ll need at least 10 days.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some good ideas for where to stay in Colorado, depending on what you’re planning to do and see. As a local, I love every single one of these areas for different reasons and I think they’re all worth a visit. Enjoy your stay and welcome!

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Laura is a freelance writer in Colorado. She has written for publications and websites including BabyCenter, Colorado Parent Magazine, and Denver Parent. She loves hiking, paddle boarding, camping, and snowboarding, and she has run exactly one marathon. She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband and four children. They love exploring the state and the rest of the U.S., usually by car, and they are pros at 20-hour road trips.

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The 7 Coolest Colorado State Parks to Visit

Aimee is a Colorado native with nearly 20 years of experience as a professional journalist. She is the head writer and editor for

Roxborough State Park in Colorado

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Whether you’re craving scenic views, a white-water adrenaline rush, top-notch rock climbing, or a camping getaway with the family, Colorado’s got a state park for that.

Colorado has 41 state parks that draw more than 11 million people every year. Each park is slightly different and all are worthy in their own rights. But a handful stand out above the rest.

Here’s a look at our favorite state parks in Colorado, and what to do at each one.

Eleven Mile State Park: For the Fishing

Mountains reflecting on ice and water in Elevenmile canyon, Colorado

Dave Soldano Images / Getty Images

If an action-packed excursion of outdoor excitement is what you’re craving, head to Eleven Mile State Park, about 40 miles west of Colorado Springs.

The highlight here is a huge reservoir and nearby wetlands that are a huge draw ​to boaters, fishers, paddlers, and windsurfers. While you can’t go swimming, you can go sailing or kayaking. Anglers, alert: Trout abounds in this body of water. Even in the winter, Eleven Mile is big for fishing. It hosts an annual, statewide ice fishing tournament.

You can hike five miles of trails and backcountry camp here, too, as well as look for wildlife (bald eagles, falcons, elk, and even black bears, so beware). Best of all, the Eleven Mile State Park feels like it’s deep in nature, surrounded by scenic hills, but it’s not too far from Denver.

Roxborough State Park: For the Ancient Sandstone Formations

Roxborough State Park, Colorado

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Roxborough State Park is where to go for the natural, unique scenery. The park is home to 300-million-year-old red sandstone formations. They emerge from the earth at a shocking 60-degree angle that makes you wonder how they don’t topple over.

With dramatic geological masterpieces galore, it is no surprise that this is one of Colorado’s official National Natural Landmarks. But that’s not all. Roxborough has an impressive resume. It’s also a State Historic Site, a Colorado Natural Area, and a National Cultural District (yup, there are also a bunch of archaeological spots in Roxborough). Hike along the multiple, easy to intermediate hiking trails throughout the park, and take in the views.

This 3,339-acre state park is easy to get to, too. See this real-life marvel just 20 miles south of Denver.

Rifle Falls: For the Waterfalls

Rifle Falls in Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado

There’s something magical about a waterfall. If you’re looking for that kind of enchantment while in Colorado, hike on up to Rifle Falls, not far from Rifle. It’s a bit of a trek from Denver (more than three hours west) but well worth the drive.

Rifle Falls State Park is home to three, 70-foot waterfalls surrounded by mysterious limestone caves (full of bats) at the water’s base. It feels like you have been plucked out of reality and dropped into a fairy tale.

But it’s more than just a pretty site. Rifle Falls State Park is packed with adventure options, such as biking, hiking, bird-watching, picnicking, and camping. So you can stay immersed in this wonderland for a few days, until you are ready to return to the real world.

In addition to birds, you can spot other wild critters living here, from big ones like elk to little guys like chipmunks. Also, keep your eyes open for deer, coyote, and fish in the creek (you’re allowed to fish here).

Tip: Don’t forget to consider this for a winter destination. Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? Add that to your bucket list. The hike up to the falls isn’t too tough so it’s appropriate for all seasons and for all visitors, even kids. Hike a bit farther up for a surreal view of the world from behind one of the waterfalls.

State Forest State Park: For the Moose

Moose (Alces alces) calf eating, Colorado State Forest State Park, Colorado, United States of America, North America

Moose live in Colorado, and seeing one in person is truly jaw-dropping. If you want to spot a moose (safely, from a distance), venture out to the 71,000-acre State Forest State Park, in the small town of Walden. That’s not quite three hours northwest of Denver. Because of its northern location, this is a popular destination for people visiting Colorado State University in Fort Collins or the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

The State Forest State Park is Colorado’s moose capital, home to more than 600 of the big guys.

Moose aren’t the only attraction in this large, adventure-filled park. It’s also home to black bears and elk, it boasts alpine lakes and tons of trails (about 90 miles of hiking trails, plus more for biking), and to top it all off, there are sand dunes here.

Eldorado Canyon State Park: For the Rock Climbing

Eldorado Canyon State Park in Colorado

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Rock climbers around the world know Eldo is where to go.

Eldo, short for Eldorado Canyon, is a super popular rock climbing destination just outside of the city of Boulder. This mountainous state park features a whopping 1,000 different technical climbing routes. It’s well known in the climbing community. The routes are accessible to all levels and open during daylight.

Even if you don’t climb, this 885-acre state park is worth your time for the amazing views and activities, such as hiking, biking, and fishing. There’s even a hot springs pool here, the closest hot springs to Boulder. It’s not as hot as some natural hot springs, but the water does hover between 76 and 80 degrees. This artesian-spring-fed pool has been open since 1905. And no, the water is not dyed. It’s naturally that deep of a blue.

In the winter, this is a fun place to go cross-country skiing and slice through the powder without the long lift lines. Don’t miss the views from the Continental Divide Overlook. That’s the line in North America where water flows in two different directions.

You may also see wildlife while you’re here, like mountain lions to black bears. The history of Eldo is pretty fascinating, too. The Ute tribe used to live here, building homes in the walls of the canyon.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park: For the Views

Golden autumn colors in Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Rocky Mountains, Colorado).

In the fall, Golden Gate Canyon State Park earns its name. This stunning park is packed with aspens, which turn a glowing gold when the leaves change colors in the fall.

But the nearly 12,000-acre Golden Gate Canyon is worth a visit any time of year, in large part due to the views for days. The place to station for the best views is (also fittingly titled) Panorama Point Scenic Overlook. You can see forever, or technically about 100 miles into the distance.

If the views capture you, which they will, you can camp here; there are more than 100 campsites and more than 100 picnic spots, more than many other state parks. That means you have at least a better chance of finding an available spot.

Or at least spend some good time exploring the trails. Hiking is great in Golden Gate. You can even go horseback riding.

As with all other state parks, wildlife abounds. Expect to possibly see bobcats, black bears, deer, elk, various types of squirrels and mountain lion. Maybe even the occasional moose. You can also go fishing, biking and rock climbing here, if action is on your agenda.

Golden Gate Canyon is located near Golden, the home of the Colorado School of Mines.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area: For the Rafting

Yeah, Colorado is a land-locked state, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little splish-splash here. A great state park for water activities is the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

Whitewater rafting is the main spotlight here. This park features 150 miles of it, and the rapids vary from pretty chill and peaceful to thrilling and roaring. This makes the Arkansas Headwaters State Park ideal for all levels of rafting.

If rafting isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to entertain yourself in this state park, from rock climbing to biking to hiking on the trails.

Camping is a given. If you can score a campsite, you will be rewarded with some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery and up-close access to nature.




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