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Outside of Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins are the second and third most prominent cities in the region. Between these two energetic university towns you’ll find the sprawling cities of Loveland and Longmont and a few former coal-mining towns with homey, small-town character (like Marshall, Louisville, Lafayette, and Erie). To the west are the proud, independent mountain hamlets of Lyons, Nederland, Ward, and Jamestown. Beyond the high peaks are broad valleys dotted with unpretentious ranching communities like Granby and Kremmling, and right in the middle of it all is the area’s crown jewel, Rocky Mountain National Park, with its two gateways, Grand Lake and Estes Park.
Boulder. Even though every conceivable trend in food, alternative health care, education, and personal style has come through town, Boulder still feels wild. It’s also very much a college town—home of the scenic University of Colorado at Boulder campus.
Side Trips from Boulder. Nederland, Niwot, and Lyons are easy to explore from Boulder—all can be reached in less than an hour. Each is known for its natural beauty, historic character, and funky atmosphere.
Estes Park. The Eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, resort town Estes Park is nestled against Roosevelt National Forest on its other three sides.
Grand County. West of the Rocky Mountain National Park, guest ranches and golf courses dot the land. In Grand Lake, waterskiing, sailing, canoeing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling dominate the scene.
Fort Collins. Famous for its own university, as well as its open spaces and its beer, Fort Collins also has a rich history and vibrant cultural scene.