Rangely, Colorado’s friendliest small town

We were greeted by flag-lined streets as we drove into Rangely, Colorado. It immediately reminded me of the rural town that I grew up in where everyone shows up for high school football games and if you skip school someone will see you and tell your mom.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest town.

Rangely, Colorado, population 2.172 (2014).

This northwest Colorado town is the Gateway to Dinosaur National Monument, our ultimate destination. We made a stop for gas and a stop at the grocery store before heading to to Echo Park Campground. I wrote about our camping adventures here.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest town. The drive to Dinosaur National Monument.

The drive from Rangely to Dinosaur National Monument.

After two days of camping at Dinosaur National Monument with our old dog Xena, we drove back to Rangely where we’d booked a room at Blue Mountain Inn & Suites. This hotel has a large dog walking area and dog-friendly rooms.  

We were super impressed with Blue Mountain Inn & Suites, and our dog Xena, also approved. She promptly fell asleep when we arrived. It’s a little thing, but Blue Mountain Inn has really nice bathroom products. When you travel as much as we do, it’s the little things that matter.

Our first order of business after two nights of camping was taking showers, and then we went out to explore the small town of Rangely. We were on the hunt for a drink, which we found at the Main Street Pub. It was early on a Saturday evening, so we were nearly alone save a local oil worker and the bartender, who took great pride in creating specialty cocktails.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest small town. landscape photo.

The scenery in Northwest Colorado is spectacular. This is wide open country.

While our campfire meals had turned out really good, we were excited to eat out and hit the town’s #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, Giovanni’s Italian Grill. We played Trivia Pursuit as we waited for our food and when he heard we had run out of cards we liked, the older man sitting behind Ryan gave us the cards off of his table. Folks in Rangely are friendly, I can’t stress that enough. From the gas station to the hotel front desk, this is small town America at its best. 

Our pasta dishes were very satisfying and served by the sweetest wait staff we’ve encountered in some time. We especially loved the garlic bread that comes with the entrees. I can see why this place is popular, both locally and with tourists – down home Italian food always hits the spot.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest town. El Agave restaurant, mojito.

A darn good mojito.

We stopped for sopapillas and a nightcap at El Agave Mexican Food Restaurant, which is across the street from the Blue Mountain Inn. At their little bar I got a delicious handmade mojito and we made friends with another local connected to the oil and gas business (oil and gas is an important part of the economy in this area). This Green Bay Packers fan is such a regular at El Agave that they bought him a Green Bay Packers mug that he can use when he comes in for a beer. I sure do love small towns.

We returned to our room where we were delighted to sleep in a real bed for the night. Our inflatable mattress in our camping gear only stays inflated for about an hour – something we didn’t know until our first night at Echo Park.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest town. a milkshake in dinosaur.

Bedrock Depot. There’s not much in the tiny, tiny town of Dinosaur, but I recommend getting a milkshake here.

We ate breakfast the next morning at Main Street Coffee House. The Blue Mountain Inn offers a free continental breakfast, but we love checking out breakfast cafes and Main Street Coffee House is the only game in town when it comes to breakfast. They had tasty coffee and friendly service, which we came to expect while in Rangely.

We had a long drive home with the dog in tow, so we didn’t have time to explore Rangely’s brand new Automotive Museum, but we hear that it’s well-worth touring. It’s a classic automotive museum with rare autos and motorcycles from the early 1900s.

Rangely is a great little town that’s just 24 minutes from Canyon Visitors Center at the Colorado entry point to Dinosaur National Monument. It is located on the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, one of a limited number of dual state scenic byways in the country. I recommend a stay here because who couldn’t use a little more friendliness in their life?

A note from the Mayor: I wasn’t expecting to blog about Rangely, so I didn’t take as many town photos as I should have. Turns out the town was worthy of a post!



40 Responses to Rangely, Colorado’s friendliest small town

  • Rangely Colorado is the start of my life journey,grades 2-12! Glad you enjoyed your time there!

    • Looks like a great place to grow up. As I stated in the blog post, I think it’s similar to where I grew up. I’m so glad I got to spend my childhood in a small town. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and thanks for stopping by HeidiTown today!

  • Cool, another place to check out AND I will now remember to check the air mattress before heading out. No padding just sucks! LOL

  • Don’t forget the Rangely Outdoor Museum, the lake East of town, the indian petroglyphs, pictographs, the rock crawling park, many trails for atv/utv riding, the hang gliding competition, the Tank, the rec center. Just to name some of what we do around here.

    • Thank you, Margaret! I wish we’d had more time to explore, but like I said, I wasn’t planning a Rangely trip. LOL! Small towns are the best and Rangely has a lot to offer. I will have to look into this hang gliding competition – sounds exciting! Thank you for stopping by HeidiTown today.

  • Thank you for the nice write up.

  • I lived there for ten years. It was so different from Ohio. I was always amazed how wonderful the weather was. So glad to have that experience.

    • We are pretty lucky with our weather here in Colorado! So much sunshine. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so I never take a day of sunshine here for granted. Thank you for stopping in HeidiTown this week, LIsa!

  • Rangely was my hometown from 1997 to 2012 and it will always be home to me. I was the main waitress for both restaurants, the Cowboy Corral and Magalinos. I loved it! That was quite a few years ago though.

  • I was born and raised in Rangely now I am raising my 5 kids here this community will always come together to help each other and anyone that comes thru I think most of us pride are self’s friendliness of our great little town thanks for the great review

  • Yay Rangely! Been a while since a town in that area was recognized. Lived in that area for almost half of my life. It’s great to see that someone likes it too.

  • I moved to Rangely from Denver in 7th grade. What a relief it was to move here. The schools were so wonderfully small and I could walk anywhere. I left when I was 19 and moved to California. Lived there for 27 years and am now back in Rangely. I absolutely love it and will never leave again. Small towns are so much better than big cities. Lots of places to hike and have fun!

  • It’s really great that you talk so highly of Rangely seeing as how I live in Dinosaur. Don’t spend your money in Rangely. Spend your money in Dinosaur believe me when I say Rangely has hurt little Dinosaur in colossal ways. Don’t spend your money at the bedrock depot either they’re over priced rip offs. Get Ice Cream at The Pickle Stop and see Dean and his many souvenirs. Get a drink at the Bar in Dinosaur. These places are only 3 miles away from the Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur needs more help than Rangely we have no hospital, no school, and no grocery store. We need the tourism of nice people to keep our heads above water.

  • I grew up in Rangely in the 1960’s. It has been little more than a trading post/gas station /post office and a gaggle of houses until the big oil boom of the 1940’s. Rangely once had the classic oilfield look, with rows and rows of derricks and hundreds of bobbing pumpers, even into the town itself. Much of that is gone now, although the field still is active (mostly pumped from underground electric units). The kids from Dinosaur were bussed into Rangely High School each day, so the smaller town was sort of like a suburb even though it is twenty miles away. Everybody knew everybody and the school sports program provided much of the entertainment, if you weren’t at the movie theater or “dragging Main” in your car, back and forth up and down the one mile stretch and waving to your friends. At night, the chugging of all the oil wells lulled us all to sleep. It is the type of childhood home one never forgets, even though one moves far away. Thank you for including Rangely in your blog.

    • Love your stories, Ken! Thank you very much for stopping by HeidiTown this week. And by the way, driving your car up and down Main Street was definitely the thing to do on Friday or Saturday night in my small town too and that was in the 90s! Some things never change.

      • Ms. Mayor, I have hundreds of photos from the Rangely Oil Field glory days that I took in my youth, and would be willing to share one or two of them with you to share with your readers if you are interested. You have my e-mail address.

        • Thanks for the offer, Ken.

          Have you let your local newspaper know about your photos? If they haven’t already, I bet they’d LOVE to interview you and print them.

          I have written for the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor since 2006, and we were always looking for stories like that.

    • Ken, I loved the info but I think that is the tunnel on Blue Mr cutoff. The railway does run under hiway 64.

      • Could be, Margaret — I drove to both Dinosaur and to Blue Mountain on my last visit, but it was a brief one and I could have gotten the memories crossed. I was not lucky enough to see the train appear..

  • I was so excited to read this…. First off, Rangely is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only is the scenery amazing, but the people that live there are some of the greatest folks on the map. I have been there 6-7 different times to see great friends, and I cannot wait to go back. Everyone there is as genuine, hard working and loyal as they come. Much love for some of the greatest friends I’ve got!!!

    Kyle Cochran (Kentucky!)

  • My family owned the ace high for 15 years.

  • Moved there when I entered 6th grade in 1982. My momma still lives there. Even though I have been in SE Texas for 26 years, it will always be home. Thank you for the nice write up. 🙂

  • One of your photos shows the “oval” tunnel on Highway 64 just outside of Dinosaur. This is where the road cuts under a very unusual railroad – the “landlocked” coal-hauler that connects the Deserado Mine near Rangely with a power plant near Bonanza, Utah (forty miles away). It is unusual for two reasons — 1) it is a recent full-size heavy railroad, first built in the 1980’s, and does not connect to any other rail line; the three locomotives and each of the coal cars had to be trucked in the final sixty miles or so! 2) Rangely had no railroad before this, and for years development of the area waited for two rail lines buiding toward it to arrive (both went bankrupt before completing the journey, although one building west from Denver had crossed the Rockies in a way that was said could not be done, and made it as far as Craig, where the tracks survive to this day!) The modern coal train is rather shy, but at least one photographer has posted videos of it on “You-Tube”.

    • Ken, I think that is the tunnel on the Blue Mountain cutoff. The railway does run under hiway 64.

    • And you forgot to mention its a big electric train!

      • Yes, the Rangely railroad line is indeed a giant “electric train,” one of the few full-sized operational electric railways in the USA (The Black Mesa and Lake Powell line in Arizona is a similar example and also a relatively recent one, having been built in the 1970’s and also a coal-hauler to a power plant). The Rangely line runs on three electric locomotives that draw their power from overhead wires called “cantenary” — the locomotive model is almost unique to Rangley (Mexico’s NdeM railroad got the other ones, and one of the Rangely units later came back into the United States from NdeM to go to Rangely. The two railroads that had earlier tried to build into Rangely (and failed to arrive) were the Uintah, coming up from the Grand Junction area, and the Denver & Salt Lake “Moffat Road” coming west from Denver … A Rangely resident takes a very interesting tour group to what’s left of the former on many summers, the local museum would have information. The city of Dinosaur, twenty miles to the northwest, was once called “Artesia” and was where the oil trucks turned off US40 after the WWII need for oil forced the oil companies to build their own roads into Rangely after the promised railroads never arrived. Interesting history!

      • Thanks, Gary! We had very limited time in Rangely. I think I’ll have to come back in order to see a lot of the things folks have mentioned here in the comments. Thank you for stopping by HeidiTown!

  • Thanks for such a nice write up on Rangely! This city girl moved here 12 years ago and hopes to not have to leave. My young boys are enjoying a free range childhood here and I love the independence and freedom of living in a remote town, on balance, life is simpler here. You hit some great highlights. Next time you’re back make sure to check out the West End Drive In, Sweetbriar, Rangely Liquor, my little Main St. Pottery Shop and…the TANK ( and the many great recreational opportunities right nearby, including a great petroglyph / pictograph tour.

    • Thanks for stopping by HeidiTown, Elizabeth! We definitely have to make our way back to Rangely one day. Obviously, we have so much more to do there!

  • I am going to Rangely next week for an interview at Colorado Northwestern Community College. I can’t wait to visit this small town!

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