A couple of decades ago, my first job in Colorado was in a downtown corner office looking out onto Main Street, Minturn, CO. The town hasn’t changed too much in those years. Sure, a few more high end homes and condo complexes have popped up, along with a few fun amenities. But Minturn retains its eclectic character. The Minturn Mile, Meadow Mountain and the Minturn Farmers Market remain some of the more popular activities in town. Colorful A-frame homes still line Main Street. And, the mainstay restaurants and summer farmers market continue to thrive.
Header image courtesy Kevin Banker/ Town of Minturn
Minturn, CO is located between the ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek in Eagle County, Colorado at 7,861 feet, but with a very different character than these resort towns. Quirky, eclectic, funky… All are words that come to mind to describe Minturn. This historic railroad town offers a much lower price point for lodging, without the frills of the nearby ski resorts. It is set in the heart of White River National Forest land.
About Minturn, Colorado
It enjoys a mountain environment close to skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and more. The Eagle River cuts through town serving as a backyard to the homes lining one block back of Main Street. Just a couple of blocks to the other side of town Holy Cross wilderness borders these backyards. The river and national forest land are defining features of the town.
The Holy Cross District that surrounds the town boasts 225 miles of Forest Service trails with hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and, in winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities. Meadow Mountain located at the entrance to town is a popular spot for hiking and snowshoing. The Eagle River that runs through town offers fly fishing and other opportunities for watersports.
However, winter Minturn may be best known for the Minturn Mile. The Minturn Mile is an out-of-bounds ski run on Vail Mountain. It is a short hike up from the top of chairs 3 or 7. About 3 miles or 3,000 feet down it ends a short hike away from the Minturn Saloon for a well-deserved Apres.
Minturn CO History
Developed in the late 1800s and founded in 1904, Minturn was once a bustling railroad town. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad stopped in town, making it a hub of transportation. Though the rail lines still exist, they are now a place for residents to run their dogs.
Minturn and Red Cliff are the nearest towns to the now defunct Gilman Mine. This mine was shut down in 1984 due to toxic conditions. It now is one of Colorado’s famous ghost towns. Residents of Minturn include descendants of workers from the Gilman Mine. Throughout the years there have been threats of developing the old Gilman Mine into high end homes, with nothing having come to fruition yet.
Where to Stay: Minturn CO Hotels
Minturn vacations may not be at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list. But there are plenty of reasons to visit this charming town. You will not find the luxury lodging of Vail and Beaver Creek here. But there are some special and more budget conscious places to stay.
442 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-9647
The Minurn Inn is a rustically warm bed and breakfast that came under ownership of long-time locals Marco and Amy Tonazzi a couple of years back. They’ve infused Italian charm into this historic property. The property itself is a hundred year old log cabin with a deck. Back in the day it was a boarding house for miners.
Nine unique guest rooms are available and include breakfast every day of the year. Every room has its own private bathroom and unique historic decor. Some of the rooms even boast their own jacuzzi tub and fireplace.
Guests gather over a European style of breakfast including a spread of warm homemade pastries, local granola other delicious foods and a sense of community. Inn Keeper Jocelyn makes all guests feel at home and as a part of the family.
The entire inn can be rented out to groups making it a fun spot for weddings or family reunions.
167 Williams St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 331-5461
Also, run by Marco and Amy Tonazzi, Hotel Minturn is a very different lodging experience than the Minturn Inn. Geared towards the traveler who is looking for a clean, modern space to stay but who wants privacy over a sense of community. The hotel offers four rooms. There’s no community space but a small refrigerator, coffee bar and microwave in the room.
175 Williams St #102, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-4165
The Bunkhouse is probably the most affordable lodging in the Vail Valley. It is a boutique hostel with semi-private bunks and two private guest rooms. There’s a shared community space and shared bathrooms.
Minturn Mountain Motel
160 Rail Rd Ave, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-5389
Minturn Mountain Motel are small rooms for rent, connected to the Turntable Restaurant. These rooms may be even more affordable than the Bunkhouse. They are popular with month-long renters.
Where to Eat: Minturn CO Restaurants
146 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-5954
The Minturn Saloon may be the most famous of Minturn’s restaurants. The restaurant location has been around since 1901, and in its current form since 1976. The Minturn Saloon is best known for its margaritas after skiing the Minturn Mile. It is a popular spot for locals too.
Minturn Country Club
131 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-4114
The Minturn Country Club is not a country club. It is a steak house where you cook your own steaks. Those were all the rage back in the 90s, and this may be one of the few that still has a loyal following. This is another hot spot with locals.
Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ
474 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-9027
Minturn is just full of local’s favorites. Kirby Cosmos is no exception. The southern barbecue here has its roots in Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. Wings and Fried Green Tomatoes are popular here.
132 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-5353
Sunrise hasn’t been around quite as long as some of the other Minturn eateries. But it is a popular breakfast spot. Delicious breakfast food at good prices. Check out their Wednesday lunch special of half sandwich and soup.
Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea
23698 US-24, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-4008
This local coffee and tea roastery has a tasting room in the Minturn Business Park. Stop by and try out some coffees from this local business. They also have freshly baked treats to complement your coffee choice. There’s a good chance you might be able to catch a whiff of the roasting if you are staying in town.
107 Williams St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 470-4404
Monkshood Cellars offers Colorado wines from their Minturn tasting room. Stop by to see what Colorado has to offer in the way of wines.
Other Minturn Restaurants
Thai Kitchen offer authentic Thai food for lunch and dinner. Magustos offers dine-in, take-out & delivery pizza. Backcountry Wings offers 10-flavors and 4-heat levels of chicken wings.
Where to Play: Things to Do in Minturn CO
The Minturn Mile has quite the reputation. It may be the best known winter attraction in Minturn. This out of bounds ski run actually starts on Vail Mountain, takes skiers down a narrow gully and drops out a short distance from the Minturn Saloon, the perfect end to a ski day.
Equally popular in winter and summer, Meadow Mountain is known for its hiking and snowshoe trails. It is a popular place to take a moonlight snowshoe excursion. Some lucky hikers and snowshoers are able to spot wildlife unique to Colorado. Once up on a time it was a hot spot for sledding, but no longer. Here are some better sledding ideas in the Vail valley.
The Minturn Market was the original farmers market in the Vail valley. Home to more art and specialty items these days, it is well worth a short detour into Minturn on a summer weekend to check out the vendors.
Minturn’s Maloit Park
Maloit Park offers 10 kilometers of maintained Nordic trails, baseball fields and a fitness center.
Hike Lionshead Rock
Lionshead Rock has always been a distinctive geographic feature of Minturn, as well as a popular hike. The hike is as popular as ever, but the geographic feature has diminished somewhat due to natural forces.
Little Beach Park & Amphitheatre
During the summer this outdoor amphitheater & playground on the banks of the Eagle River offers a variety of entertainment from music and talks to kids music camps.
Blue Starlite Drive-In Theater
Where else can you still visit a drive-in movie theater? Blue Starlite offers a drive-in movie theater during the summer at Little Beach Park.
Shopping in Minturn
No, Minturn is not the high end mecca of Vail when it comes to shopping. But it does have a couple of gems.
191 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-4299
This second hand clothing store is housed in an old church. Due to its proximity to the resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek Holy Toledo, has a variety of second hand designer items for a fraction of the original price.
Mangiare Italian Market
23698 US-24, Minturn, CO 81645 | (970) 827-5603
When you are at a loss for a gift, stop by Mangiare. They have wonderful gift baskets of specialty Italian items. It is also the place to go when putting together a meat and cheese platter for a party or when searching for the perfect authentic Italian item to finish off your dinner plans.
Other Fun Minturn Shops
If you have the time take a walk around Minturn. Uptown Store is one of Minturn’s more popular shops, as they carry a variety of Minturn themed gifts and souvenir items. Stop in at Eagle Valley Music and Comics, a unique store offering records, comic books, and more for 35-years in the Vail valley. Right Up Your Alley offers Scandinavian reindeer, Icelandic sheep skins, accessories, home decor and more. Check out hand-knotted area rugs, handmade jewelry, fashion, & vintage decor at The Scarab. Stop into Weston Backcountry for Snowboards, splitboards and backcountry gear. Drinking Vessel studio offers blown glass products.
Minturn CO Upcoming Events
Apart from the regular annual events listed above, Minturn has a full schedule of fun events. In the summer you will find all kinds of entertainment at Little Beach Park and Amphitheater. There’s an exhibition of paintings, photographs and 3D work by local Valley Artists in downtown Minturn on first Fridays. Be sure to check the Minturn Event Calendar to stay up to date.
What’s the weather like in Minturn?
Minturn CO is located in a valley of Colorado’s high country. It can be slightly cooler than the nearby ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek just because the sun doesn’t stay out quite as long. Summers are sunny and cool. Winters are snowy and cold.
Other Colorado Mountain Towns
Minturn is one of Colorado’s many historic and quirky mountain towns. Have you visited Minturn? Tell us below what you thought. And, then check our our list of other interesting mountain towns to find other places to visit!