Picturesque Westcliffe is tucked between the Wet Mountains to the east and the Sangre de Cristo Range to the west. It’s the Custer County seat, with plenty of places to eat, sleep and shop.
The 2020 census recorded the population at 652 so it’s a quiet, mountain community. The elevation is 7,888 feet, combined with its limited population and dedication to reducing light pollution, which has garnered it a spot as an international dark sky community. Its neighbor Silver Cliff, lies one mile east within Custer County as well.
Westcliffe is essentially a result of the railroad being extended from nearby Silver Cliff, a booming mining town. As it grew, people began to settle around the rail line and eventually Westcliffe was incorporated on November 21st, 1887.
Today, Westcliffe caters to adventurous tourists who seek out this hidden gem. It boasts backyard access to the great outdoors, friendly locals, and a world class place to watch the stars.
Frontier Pathways Byway – You can start along the Frontier Pathways Byway heading west on Highway 96 from Pueblo and finishing in Westcliffe, or do it in reverse. There’s a lovely detour before Wetmore where you can head southeast on Highway 165 toward Rye and Colorado City at I-25.
- This is also part of the national scenic byway and passes by the one-of-a-kind Bishops Castle, well northwest of Rye.
Stargazing – Both Westcliffe and Silver Cliff are Dark Sky Communities, a unique designation in Colorado. It means the towns take certain steps toward minimizing light pollution and as a result, the night sky is spectacularly bright. The Smokey Jack Observatory is one prime place to observe through a high-tech telescope or do it the old-fashioned way from Bluff Park.
Read about the things to do in Westcliffe.
Camping – The San Isabel National Forest offers several campgrounds just west of town. South Colony Basin also has almost 70 spots that are both drive-in and hike-in depending on what your preference is. If you are traveling with an RV, Wet Mountain and Grape Creek RV Parks are nearby.
- Read about the camping near Westcliffe and Rye.
- Venable Creek Trail is an 8-mile hike with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, so it is not for the faint of heart. The alpine views are worth it though.
- South Colony Lakes Trail winds along some of the tallest mountains in the state. There are also plenty of dispersed camping spots if you want to extend your stay.
- Read about the hiking trails near Westcliffe.
Fishing – DeWeese Reservoir is the closest fishing spot to town. It also offers great sunsets.
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Alpine Lodge & Restaurant – Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this accommodation is the perfect getaway. They also have an on-site restaurant.
Courtyard Country Inn – A quaint spot located in the heart of town. They have an iconic courtyard with a koi pond, local artwork, and gorgeous flowers.
Lamp Post Lodge – Close to downtown with 7 suites in the main lodge, and several more secluded cottages scattered around the property.
Read about the best hotels in Westcliffe and Silver Cliff.
Bootlegger’s Deli – Classic deli with hearty sandwiches and a bar to enjoy.
Silver West Feed Store – Perfect for a date night in town with well prepared steaks and specials.
Tumbleweed Coffee House – Cozy coffee cafe with light fare to enjoy before a day of adventures.
Jul – Stampede Rodeo – A parade, dance performances, and rodeo held during a 3 day event in July.
Jul – High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival – Four day music festival held in mid July.
Sep – High Peaks Music Festival – Summer Saturday of awesome acoustic music held at the town amphitheater in mid September.
Activities near Westcliffe
- Hermit Lake (11mi)
- Lake of the Clouds (14mi)
- San Isabel National Forest
- Sangre de Cristo Wilderness
- South Colony Lakes (16mi)
- Bishop’s Castle (29mi)
- Cañon City (48mi)
- Coaldale (28mi)
- Colorado City (50mi)
- Cotopaxi (23mi)
- Florence (37mi)
- Gardner (34mi)
- Hillside (12mi)
- Howard (36mi)
- Penrose (43mi)
- Pueblo (56mi)
- Rye (45mi)
- Salida (48mi)
- Silver Cliff (1mi)
- Texas Creek (25mi)
- Walsenburg (60mi)
- Wetmore (26mi)
Visit the town’s official website.
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