The Truth About the Towns on Colorado’s Worst Places to Live List

I recently read an article online where the author highlighted what he claimed were the “10 Worst Places to Live in Colorado.” It was unclear as to whether he had visited all ten towns, and as it appears he resides outside of Colorado, I am skeptical.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Placese to Live List

Trinidad, Colorado

He wrote that he based his article on statistics, although he sprinkled non-statistic based comments throughout the piece.

The word “worst” denotes something very bad, and when the word is used to describe a place, most people would immediately check the place off their visit list. The more I thought about this, the more the article bothered me.

I’ve met the people in these communities and walked the streets of these towns, and I am here to tell you that many of the folks who live in these places are fiercely proud of their towns, and rightly so. Not only are there wonderful reasons to visit each of these Colorado towns, I believe all of them would be a great place to call home.

After some consideration, I decided to highlight some of the best things each of the towns on this “worst” list have to offer. And I have taken the liberty if of putting the following towns in alphabetical order (this is not as they appeared on the original list).

Alamosa, Colorado

I spent a long weekend in Alamosa last winter during Rio Frio Ice Fest, an event that features a 5K race on the frozen Rio Grande River.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Alamosa, Colorado

While there, we ate our way through town, enjoying everything from fresh tortillas to game sausage. There is an abundance of delicious, friendly and family-owned restaurants in Alamosa.

The town is home to the San Luis Brewing Company. Located in downtown Alamosa in a fabulous old bank building, this brewery makes our favorite green chile beer.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Alamosa is located 30 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, a truly magical place.

Cortez, Colorado

Located in the far southwest corner of Colorado. I’ve been to Cortez because it’s 14 miles from Mesa Verde National Park, where there are 5,000 known archeological sites as well as 600 cliff dwellings of Ancestral Pueblo.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Mesa Verde National Park

Along with the vast historical significance of the area, Cortez offers incredible birding opportunities, biking, hiking, rock climbing and star gazing.

I especially remember eating a scrumptious Mexican food meal while visiting Cortez.

Delta, Colorado

Delta is at the confluence of the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers. The city has a rich history and many buildings are on the local or state historic register. Visitors can tour Fort Uncompahgre, a reconstruction of the original trading post that was build in 1828.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Delta, Colorado, photo provided by Visit Delta County

The city is known as the City of Murals because public art is on display throughout town.

Fantastic recreation destinations surround Delta such as the Dominguez/Escalante National Wilderness areas.

Grand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction is home to one of my favorite restaurants in the entire state, Bin 707 Foodbar, and any self-described foodie should eat there at least once.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Grand Junction, Colorado

Agritourism opportunities are numerous as the city is surrounded by vineyards and orchards that give tours.

The little known Colorado National Monument is located just minutes from Grand Junction. The rock formations at the park rival much of what I’ve seen in Utah.

The only rockestra west of the Mississippi River calls Grand Junction home. The Grand Junction Rockestra performs rock and roll with a symphonic twist.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Grand Junction, Colorado

The city is covered with public art, which makes downtown Grand Junction pop with color and creativity year round.

Greeley, Colorado

Of all the towns on this list, I know Greeley the best. I’ve covered festivals in town and we usually attend one or two of their Friday Fest events during the summer months.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Greeley, Colorado

Greeley is the only town in Colorado with an open container liquor policy in downtown during Friday Fest. Its Puritan founders are likely turning over in their graves, but I believe Greeley’s “Go Cup” service is one of the most progressive policies in the state.  

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Greeley, Colorado

Greeley is home to the Rocky Mountain region’s longest running orchestra, there’s an array of interesting restaurants such as Rumi’s House of Kabob in town and at least six microbreweries (that I know of) have opened in Greeley, not to mention an excellent small batch distillery serving up spirits made with Colorado ingredients.  

La Junta, Colorado

It may be tiny and rural, but La Junta is situated along the Santa Fe Trail and is home to one of the most famous forts in the west – Bent’s Old Fort.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Old Bent’s Fort

Built in 1833, Bent’s Old Fort stood for 16 years, and was a hub of activity for explorers, adventurers and the US Army.

La Junta means junction, and for many years the town has served as a place where travelers can take a pause from their journey. One reason to pause in the region is this list of festivals that occur annually in Southeast Colorado.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Southeastern Colorado is a photographer dream.

La Junta borders the Comanche National Grassland where visitors can hike, bird watch and even find dinosaur tracks.

Montrose, Colorado

I spent a long weekend in Montrose last fall covering their Oktoberfest and have been through the town many, many times, stopping occasionally for a meal.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Montrose, Colorado

Montrose is home to Colorado Boy, one of our favorite pizza and beer joints in the entire state.

Montrose is also the headquarters of the Colorado Yurt Company, which we have toured. This company sends yurts around the globe. This is probably one of the coolest companies in the entire state.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

In addition, Montrose is 13 miles from the entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the most awe inspiring national parks that I have visited. It’s especially gorgeous in the fall.

Pueblo, Colorado

Pueblo is home of the “slopper.” An epic burger smothered in green chili. Two of Pueblo’s restaurants have been featured on The Food Network because of their famous sloppers.

Pueblo is also the site of the annual Chile & Frijoles Festival every September. Any town that celebrates chile pepper is tops in my book.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Pueblo, Colorado, photo provided by the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

Pueblo has the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk with restaurants, river boats, movie nights and more. Not many towns in Colorado or beyond can boast a riverwalk.

Stratmoor, Colorado

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Stratmoor, Colorado, but I do know that it’s not actually a town, it’s basically a suburb of Colorado Springs. It’s located just 15 minutes from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, my favorite zoo in Colorado, so it really can’t be all that bad.I’d be perfectly content to visit this zoo every day.

Trinidad, Colorado

I was just in Trinidad two weeks ago covering ArtoCade and I can’t wait to write an entire blog post about this fascinating town that has no right being on any Worst Town list.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Trinidad, Colorado

As a major stop along the Santa Fe Trail, the history in Trinidad runs deep and the colorful stories are never ending (Al Capone is even rumored to have come to town).

Nearly every building in the expansive downtown area of Trinidad looks like a wedding cake.

Trinidad is home to Rino’s Italian Restaurant & Steakhouse where they have fabulous singing waiters. And one of the last two skating rinks to boast the original wood floors is also located in town.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Places to Live List

Trinidad, Colorado

I sincerely hope you see Colorado’s worst places to live list in a different light after reading this article.

People write “worst” lists with hits in mind. They know that inflammatory posts with “click bait” style titles will get shared on social media with little regard for anything else.

The towns on this list represent a lot of what I love the most about Colorado – unique beauty, colorful histories and friendly people.

I believe that with a little digging, every town has an interesting story to tell, and honestly, it didn’t require much digging to uncover the gems located in each of these unique Colorado communities.


34 Responses to The Truth About the Towns on Colorado’s Worst Places to Live List

  • After I read the original article about the worst cities I wanted to tar and feather the author. You can tell he just phoned it in. Thanks so much my dear for setting the record straight…you are my hero!

    • I lived in Montrose for 7 years and had to move to Phoenix to find work. I didn’t want to leave but needed to make a living. I’m hoping to be able to return with work on the internet so I can live there again. I worked at the Ute Indian Museum until it closed for expansion and absolutely loved it there and maybe have a hope of going back there when it reopens next year. What I miss most are my friends and the beauty and being able to have a garden with flowers. I lived in the Phoenix area 30 years before moving to Colorado and on returning, I don’t like the hectic city life. My favorite is hiking at Black Canyon. Thanks for this article. It is very true.

      • We’re moving there from Colorado front range and love our new town

      • I’ve looked and looked for a place to move back in Montrose. The housing is very limited there and a lot of landlords do not allow pets anymore. I want to move back to the western slope and thinking about someplace else. One down side, when I lived there, my townhome had two attempted break ins in a nice neighborhood and if I wasn’t home at the time, it probably would have happened. There are some drug problems there and it’s really sad that this has to happen to such a nice place to live.

  • I can’t imagine any place in Colorado being the worst of anything. I’ve been to 3 on your list, but didn’t have much time in them. They were all on the list of possible places to move!
    Thanks for another view into everything about this state I’ve come to love.

  • P.S., thanks now I really need to visit about 5 of these places I’ve yet to discover.

  • Bravo, Ms Mayor! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Way to turn a negative into a positive! I’ve been to most of these towns as well. Looks like it’s time to plan visits to the rest of them.

  • Thanks for the shout out for Colorado Yurt Company. We think Montrose is a great place to live and do business!

  • Adams State University is a magical place for first-generation college students. It was the home of the advertising great Ira Zuckerman. The faculty helped to educate William Porter (Started a little Company called E-Trade), had faculty working with Malcolm Forbes, has a very high rate of disadvantaged, yet remarkably smart students who are first generation. Personally I’ve lived in Alamosa and regard it as one of the great small towns in America. I taught in Greeley at the world-class University of Northern Colorado and was a member of there Masonic Lodge. Whoever wrote this article is brain dead. These are amazing communities of great people. There is really no “worst” city in the State, unless you define worst as Amazing, Friendly, Better than Most, etc.

    • Doc! Perfect comments! I am one of those first generation students and absolutely loved my life at ASC and in Alamosa. I’m a San Luis Valley native and love every unique town in it! My husband and I still visit often and cherish the amazing people, great food, the culture and atmosphere!

  • “Where ever you go, there you are”, and I suspect this author’s experiences (if he actually visited these towns) reflects more about him than the towns. Colorado has amazing food, views, and people in every town.

  • You can add to Grand Junction that it’s a cool college town where you can attend sports events and cheer the home team as well as one of the BEST theater departments in the state that puts on a variety of theater and musical entertainment throughout the school year. GJCO also has at least one microbrewery with yummy pizza “Kannah Creek” and it’s next door to the Colorado wine capital of Palisade with FREE tastings, unlike Napa Valley where you have to pay to taste. That area also has the beautiful Grand Mesa recreation area and fruit tree’s galore. Some people are just jealous our “worst” places are better than the average spots in their state.

  • Fantastic. I love this post. You hit the nail on the head!

  • Grand Junction is the worst. Move along, don’t even think of visiting it’s quaint downtown, enjoying it’s magnificent views or exceptional recreational opportunities….

    Based on the original “worst” article, this person didn’t have very good taste anyway. Thanks for setting it straight. 🙂

  • Nice article!
    I’ve been to all of these small cities and towns and love each of them!

  • Nice job again Heidi! I’m a fan. That list bothered me a lot too.

  • I didn’t read the original article but was flabbergasted at some of the inclusions. I’ve been to all these towns and you were right on with your assessment. I guess if it’s not a ski resort or an average income of x it didn’t make the list? It’s not a bad thing not to be included on these lists look what’s happened to Crested Butte and Gunnison. They’re always on one top 10 list and parking has become an issue never mind the locals are overwhelmed by the sheer number of tourists. A fine line of too much and quality of life.

  • In my opinion, even the so-called “worst” town in Colorado still beats the “best” town anywhere else! I feel so fortunate to live in such an amazing state full of wonderful people, scenery, great lifestyle, food, culture, history and outdoor recreation.

  • I am happy the original article upset you and prompted you to post your version highlighting some hidden gems. I have lived in this fine state for 11 years and I always learn new things and get ideas of places to check out from your posts. Cheers to that, you, and Colorado.

  • I love Grand Junction! It’s the train stop with the little store. One time traveling through I stayed at a hotel with a bed so big it could have slept four. The people were friendly and there was a cool little music store. Your “revised” list makes me want to visit these towns even more.

    Good work, Heidi!

  • I hate when people use their media mouthpieces to undercut other people’s hard work. Thanks for writing this post. I now feel compelled to visit each and every one of these towns to tell them how wonderful they are.

  • Thanks so much for setting the record straight. Montrose, Delta and Grand Junction all lie along the Gunnison River corridor. These towns are at the “sweet spot” where the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau meets the Southern Rockies. In addition to the National Park and National Monument that the author mentions, we also have three National Conservation Areas: Gunnison Gorge, Dominguez-Escalante, and McInnis Canyons. These towns are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream! From excellent skiing, to whitewater boating, to Gold Medal fly-fishing, to some of the best single-track trail riding, to our farm-to-table local restaurants you’d be hard pressed to find a better “worst” place.

  • Bravo! Well done, Heidi! I 100% agree that all these lesser-known towns are actually some of the best, not worst, of Colorado. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • Great read, Heidi! I’ve now put several of these towns on my “must visit” list.

  • I’ve lived in Greeley for the past 32 years and think it’s one of Colorado’s best kept secrets and most affordable places to live in the state. Greeley gets a bad rap from the supposed “smell” but that isn’t much of an issue anymore. Average home price here is just over $250K – lot cheaper than the rest of the state! Gotta love the breweries here now too!

  • I’ve been to every town on this list. I don’t believe that any of them belong on a list of the worst Colorado towns to live in. All of these towns are really nice to visit and others are just a short drive to some very beautiful and interesting, historic places to visit. Many of these towns have excellent restaurants and regional foods and drinks. Having lived in Colorado for 20 years in the past and visiting more than once a year for the last 30, I have driven through the various regions of the state. It is obvious that the person who called these towns the worst places to live in Colorado never spent any real time there.

  • I am so happy to see your article. A positive message does good in the world.
    Thank you for the kind words about our communities and the work we do.

  • I have lived in Montrose for over 40 years it is a wonderful place to live. The City is moving us forward. Hopefully we will vote in the right people for County Commissioners. (we have been stuck) That is what is holding back some of those communities mentioned. (we need to vote in the new thinkers) I too have visited each and everyone of those communities and there is so much beauty and potential in each one of them. Delta has the opportunity for a huge change and we are all hoping that they have enough money to move forward.. They have a beautiful ski mountain close by the River runners have all put in and floated through the red canyons of Escalante. A great Golf course. Need of new manufacturing, jobs now that the Coal Mining is gone. Montrose has 3 golf courses and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the River that runs through town. Views…Views. No County rules on Noise, Junk not a plus.

  • You deserve ALL the accolades for this article! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  • I’ve lived in Denver my whole life and have been all over the state and all of these towns. There are no ‘worst’ places in Colorado. It’s fantastic to have all these gems close by. I have no plans to ever leave this wonderful state.

  • This blog attempts to respond to the “worst places to live” accusation without really talking about what it means to live in any of these towns, but instead focusing mostly on VISITOR attraction. It’s great to mention something positive about any small town, but having a good eatery or a hiking trail, does little to make up for a lack of jobs, hospitals, a good selection of stores or decent quality housing. And while we’re enjoying our small town charm in splendid poverty, we are now dealing with formerly big-city problems like heroin, in many cases without facilities to help addicts, or sufficient police training and manpower to contain it.

  • Eh..different strokes. I moved out of Colorado. I still go back to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live there again. That’s more for personal reasons than anything against the state though.

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