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Having spent most of my life in Colorado, I’ve passed through the small mountain town of Silverthorne hundreds of times. I knew it as a place to stop for dinner on the way home from a day of skiing, or as the place to pick up some of my favorite brand clothing at The Outlets at Silverthorne.

But recently, I had a chance to spend the whole weekend in Silverthorne, and it opened my eyes to all the town has to offer. 

I visited Silverthorne during the summer, when the wildflowers were blooming, the air was warm, and the sky was bright blue. But Silverthorne also shines in the fall when autumn colors arrive. In winter, it’s even more popular, when ski season is in full swing. 

If you’re planning a vacation in Colorado’s High Country, home to some of Colorado’s top ski resorts, you may want to make your base in Silverthorne. 

Why You Should Visit Silverthorne

Sunrise. Photo courtesy of Town of Silverthorne
Sunrise in Silverthorne. Photo courtesy of Town of Silverthorne

Easy Access to Top Colorado Ski Resorts

Silverthorne is located along I-70 and it’s just an hour from Denver. It offers easy access to many top Colorado ski resorts. You can stay in Silverthorne and then take the bus to your favorite ski destination.  

Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Keystone are all available by the free Summit Stage bus from Silverthorne. 

Loveland, Beaver Creek and Vail are not available by the Summit Stage since they’re outside of Summit County, but public transport is available on Bustang or Snowstang from CDOT.

Just leave your car at your Silverthorne hotel or in the town’s free 4th Street Parking Garage, which is attached to the bus transit center. 

From there, you can hop on a bus to the ski resort of your choice. No parking hassles and no parking fees. It’s doesn’t get better than that!

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Affordable Lodging, Dining and More 

Let’s face it. Vacationing at a Colorado ski resort is not cheap. Silverthorne has excellent hotels and vacation rentals of all price points. During my visit, I noticed that many hotels, restaurants and outfitter prices were less in Silverthorne than what I’ve seen at other ski resort towns. 

So, if you stay in Silverthorne, you can stretch your ski vacation budget just a little more. 

The Pad at night. Photo by Janna Graber
The Pad in Silverthorne at night. Photo by Janna Graber

The Pad, Silverthorne’s Newest Hotel

Speaking of hotels, the newest hotel sensation in Silverthorne is The Pad, a boutique hotel for the eco-friendly modern traveler. 

Constructed from shipping containers, The Pad offers hotel rooms as well as shared hostel rooms. My sister and I stayed in a large guest room. It was very comfortable, and we enjoyed hotel’s hot tub overlooking the river.  

I was curious, so we had a look at the hostel rooms, too. I was impressed by how comfortable and attractive they looked. Having stayed in many hostels backpacking through Europe as a college student, I can say that this one was the nicest I’ve ever seen. 

Hostel guests can use the large, shared kitchen, which is fully equipped with all the utensils and appliances you need to cook up a wonderful meal.

The Pad is also a community draw. We met a local cycling group who was there to enjoy an after-ride drink, and in the morning, I saw a yoga class on the wide back lawn. The property has a rooftop, riverside bar and frequent special rates on their rooms.  

Lily Pad Lake. Photo by Janna Graber
Lily Pad Lake. Photo by Janna Graber

Authentic Colorado 

Many Colorado mountains towns have their roots in gold or silver mining, but Silverthorne’s roots are in water. The town, which incorporated in 1967, began as a makeshift construction camp for workers who built the Dillon Dam.

Dillon was once a small town of its own, but a reservoir was needed for Denver’s growing water needs. It was determined that the valley where Dillon laid was the perfect location for the dam.

Workers were needed to build the dam and move the existing town of Dillion to a new location. That makeshift construction camp eventually grew into what became the Town of Silverthorne. 

Today, Silverthorne is home to almost 5,000 residents, the largest year-round population in Summit County. This is a thriving community with an obvious love of the outdoors, the arts and their hometown community. 

Outdoor adventures. Photo by Janna Graber
Biking on the Blue River Trail in Silverthorne. Photo by Janna Graber

Outdoor Adventure in Silverthorne

If you love biking, Silverthorne is a great place to be. The Blue River Trail runs through town along the river, and it’s popular with cyclists and walkers. 

My sister, Debbie, and I rented e-bikes at Blue Valley Ski Rental at the Outlets at Silverthorne. The e-bikes were excellent and the prices affordable. The bike shop is right across the street from the Summit County Recpath, a paved path that goes around Lake Dillon, out to Frisco, Breckenridge, Keystone or Copper. 

The entire path spans over 50 miles. The path elevations range from 8,777 feet to 10,563 feet, so you can find that route that suites you. We chose the leisurely bike ride along the Dillon Reservoir, which had incredible views. 

From there, we continued to the town of Frisco, where we stopped for a bite to eat. From Frisco, you can continue to Breckenridge on the well-maintained bike path. The trail does have quite a few stretches that go up and down, so we were glad to have the e-bikes. It was a beautiful ride. 

If you’d rather spend time on the water, you can rent standup paddle boards at Colorado Adventure Guides. In addition to renting standup paddle boards, Colorado Adventures Guides operates year-round as a one-stop shop for guided activities and backcountry educational courses.

You can head to Lake Dillon to paddle board or to the smaller North Pond Park in Silverthorne. In the winter, North Pond is used for ice skating and ice fishing. Just bring your skates or fishing gear. 

Hiking is a must-do when visiting Colorado. We hiked to Lily Pad Lake, a 3.3-mile out-and-back trail near Silverthorne. It took us about 1.25 hours and Lily Pad Lake was a nice reward. 

Bluebird Market. Photo by Janna Graber
Bluebird Market in Silverthorne Photo by Janna Graber

Dining in Silverthorne

Silverthorne has a nice variety of restaurants, including many small locally owned establishments that are well worth the visit. 

Our favorite breakfast stops were Red Buffalo Coffee & Tea and House of Vibes Coffee & Curio for excellent coffee and breakfast dishes. (Try the Onion Avocado Toast on homemade bread from Red Buffalo. It’s really good!) Nearby Enza’s is well-known for their excellent pastries. 

For dinner, we dined at Kucu Tequila Bistro at Hotel Indigo in the heart of Silverthorne, where we enjoyed some fun cocktails and excellent food on their large patio. 

Later, we dined at Timberline Craft Kitchen & Cocktails. They’re known for Colorado-sourced global-inspired cuisine, and offer everyday brunch, dinner and happy hour Monday through Friday. The food was fresh and tasty, and from the looks of it, they are very popular with the locals.    

One new and very popular dining option is the new Bluebird Market food hall at Fourth Street Crossing, which has a variety of dining options from tacos and crepes to coffee and ice cream. We loved seeing the historic Old Dillon Inn, which has been moved and been uniquely preserved within the building.

Whether you’re passing through on I-70 and want to stop for a meal or shopping or want to vacation here a few days, Silverthorne is well worth a visit. 

For more information, see the Town of Silverthorne Visitor’s Guide

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Start planning your mountain range escape to Silverthorne today. Get prepared with insider tips on the best hikes, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local restaurant reviews and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.

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Janna Graber

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