Silverthorne, in the high Colorado mountains, is the perfect base camp to enjoy all the region has to offer. Silverthorne is nestled at the base of the Gore Range, about an hour’s drive (70 miles/112 km) west of Denver. If high mountain peaks, valleys, meadows, rivers, creeks, lakes, reservoirs, shopping, and fine arts are your ideas of a wonderful family vacation or a mountain getaway, consider Silverthorne.
This article was created in partnership with VISIT USA PARKS.
Short History, Big Fun
Silverthorne doesn’t have a long history—it was established in 1967—but its history is interesting. It was originally a work camp for the people constructing the Dillon Dam, which is a water source for Denver. It was such a beautiful location that many of the workers stayed and established the township.
Today it serves as the playground, heart, and hub of Summit County with abundant year-round outdoor recreation, outlet malls, and a thriving arts and culture scene.
A summertime trip to Silverthorne guarantees a memorable and satisfying experience for young and not-so-young alike. Start with the following itinerary, but be sure to research the area to find even more of the best things to do in Colorado.
Day 1 in Silverthorne:
Take exit 205 off of Interstate 70 and pitch your tent at the Blue River Campground, which is located next to the famed gold-medal trout stream. Or stop in town and book a hotel room or rental home as your home base.
Once you are settled in, grab your fly rod and hit the river. “The Blue” boasts trophy rainbow and brown trout in its endless pools and eddies. You can fish on your own, or book a guided fly-fishing trip with one of the local fly shops: Cutthroat Angler or The Colorado Angler. No matter how you approach the river, don’t miss out on one of the best things to do in Colorado.
Once the inevitable hunger sets in, load up the troop to enjoy one of the many restaurants. Sauce on the Blue Restaurant is one of the most popular. In addition to the incredible Italian food, it also boasts one of the best views in town.
Day 2 in Silverthorne:
After a well-deserved good night’s sleep, get up early and spend the day hiking. There are a number of gorgeous hikes to explore, and we recommend climbing to the summit of Ptarmigan Mountain, the wildflower-dotted Willow Falls trail, or the short hike to Lily Pad Lake. Slow down and enjoy the solitude of pure, unspoiled nature and amazing scenery.
After a wonderful day on the trail, head back to town to eat a hearty dinner at Timberline Craft Kitchen. Then catch a play at the state-of-the-art Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, home of the Lake Dillon Theater Company.
If it happens to be the first Friday of the month, you’ll get a taste of what is so special about Silverthorne’s mountain community. Throughout the year, the monthly First Friday events celebrate local music, art, and food.
Day 3 in Silverthorne:
No matter what you decide to do in Silverthorne, Colorado today, make sure you fuel up with a big breakfast. Sunshine Cafe serves up large portions of traditional American breakfasts, along with a cozy small-town feel.
If you’re looking for another day of adventure, head to the water again. But this time, the water will be moving rapidly. Whether you prefer whitewater or flat water, visit KODI Rafting to set up a half-day or full-day catered trip.
If shopping is more your thing, hit up the Outlets at Silverthorne for tons of name-brand stores. Browse the popular retail options for authentic merchandise at discount prices.
After your morning adventure, spend your afternoon and evening downtown. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the Blue River Trail in town, or relax in one of the many parks. Be sure to dine at Argentos Empanadas & More. Yes, order the empanadas —they’re delicious.
Silverthorne is a fun and affordable alternative to its high-priced neighbors but gives you access to all of the best things to do in Colorado. For more adventure, build it into a larger Colorado itinerary.