Aguilar Colorado: What to See and Do


Aguilar is overflowing with natural Colorado beauty, outdoor adventures, and cultural riches waiting to be uncovered in this small town. This local’s guide covers everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable visit.


  • Aguilar offers stunning mountain scenery, a rich mining history, and proximity to major attractions like the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway.
  • Must-do activities include hiking Colorado's famed Collegiate Peaks, exploring old mining towns, and driving the scenic byways crisscrossing the region.
  • The local culture shines through at festivals like the Little Britches Rodeo and the Aguilar Fair and Rodeo.
  • Nearby cities like Trinidad and Walsenburg offer additional cultural sites, dining options, and accommodations to complement your stay.

The Allure of Small-Town Aguilar

Situated along Colorado’s Mineral Belt, Aguilar grew out of Colorado’s 19th-century gold and coal mining boom. Though the mines have closed, remnants of Aguilar’s mining heritage live on through preserved buildings and tales of the ambitious prospectors who founded the town.

Aguilar offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience authentic small-town community life while enjoying easy access to the outstanding natural beauty and mountain adventures synonymous with Colorado. The quaint main street has locally owned shops and restaurants and friendly residents eager to share their stories and tips.

Just beyond the quiet streets sits some of Colorado’s most magnificent terrain. Aguilar provides a jumping-off point for attractions like the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway winding over 11,300-foot passes, 14,000-foot peaks in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, and destinations like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Experiencing Local Culture

Aguilar comes alive during annual events celebrating the town’s Western heritage with rodeos, festivals, and parades.

The June Little Britches Rodeo displays the riding talents of young cowgirls and cowboys, keeping the ranching tradition alive. July brings the Aguilar Fair and Rodeo, where visitors can try local flavors at the pie and salsa cookoffs or cheer on riders competing in rodeo events.

Just north in Trinidad, the Louden-Henritze Archaeology Museum at Trinidad State Junior College contains fascinating excavated relics of the Ancestral Puebloan culture.

Throughout Aguilar and the surrounding towns, an array of Mexican restaurants, diners, BBQ joints, and cafes dish out southwestern and ranch-style fare. Local specialties you’ve got to try include green chili dishes, Navajo tacos with frybread, and trout from the mountain streams.

Nearby lodging ranges from chain hotels in Trinidad and Walsenburg to cozy, affordable motels and inns in Aguilar. With so much to offer within a short drive, Aguilar makes an ideal home base.

Seasonal Recreation for All

Crisp fall days invite scenic drives over mountain passes ablaze with golden Aspen groves on byways like the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway or Mount Blue Sky Scenic Byway (formerly Mount Evans Scenic Byway). Hikers revel in the solitude of trails like the Fourmile Creek Trail winding past glacial lakes near Crested Butte. Kebler Pass draws visitors to marvel at one of Colorado’s largest Aspen groves.

As the snow piles high, Aguilar transforms into a winter playground. Downhill and cross-country skiing await at Monarch Mountain Ski Area, just over the Continental Divide. Backcountry hot springs like Joyful Journey provide the perfect apres-ski soak. Snowmobilers cruise over mountain passes on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, while ice climbers test their skills on frozen waterfalls.

When warmer weather returns, families flock to Santa Maria Ranch for catch-and-release fishing, paddle boating, and hiking along the San Isabel National Forest trails. The outdoor fun continues with river rafting on the Arkansas River or soaking up the sun on the shores of Trinidad Lake State Park.

No matter the season, the Aguilar area delivers endless opportunities to create meaningful memories amid Colorado’s natural magnificence.

Scenic Byways and Road Trips

Crisscrossing south-central Colorado, a network of National Scenic Byways and state-designated tour routes connects Aguilar to incredible landscapes and adventures.

The Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway, famous for its brilliant golden Aspen displays, links old mining towns like Lake City, Silverton, and Ouray in a 63-mile loop over two 12,000-foot mountain passes. Four-wheel drive and high-clearance vehicles are recommended for the shelf roads carved into the steep mountainsides.

To the east, La Veta Pass on the narrow-gauge Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad crosses the Continental Divide through a rugged section of the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande National Forest. Riders experience views rivaling those of the famous Durango-Silverton train.

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway National Scenic Byway traces Colorado’s ancient past with stops to see dinosaur fossil sites and petroglyphs etched by Native Americans. Visitors can even venture across the Colorado-Utah border to explore Dinosaur National Monument.

With this network of byways and highways at your fingertips, a road trip through history, over mountain passes, or back in time is always within easy reach.

Outdoor Adventure Awaits

Boasting over 40 peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, the Collegiate Peaks of the Sawatch Range surrounding Aguilar create a rugged, high-altitude playground.

Hikers and backpackers flock to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness to conquer the Colorado 14ers—the 14,000-foot peaks that draw mountaineers from around the world. These challenging ascents reward with unmatched vistas of snow-capped peaks and crystal blue alpine lakes.

Just outside the wilderness, the dramatically carved walls of Browns Canyon National Monument draw whitewater rafters and kayakers to test their skills on the rapids of the Arkansas River, designated as Gold Medal waters. Fishermen can cast a line for trout along the river instead.

Mountain bikers seek out the single-track Rainbow Trail, which winds through the San Isabel National Forest. The trail’s steeper sections cater to advanced riders, while beginners stick to the flatter, winding sections through the woods.

Aguilar is truly an outdoor lover’s paradise with boundless trails to hike and bike, raging rapids to run, and peaks to climb.

Historical and Cultural Gems

History buffs will delight in exploring Aguilar’s mining heritage and the ancient cultures once calling this region home.

In the late 19th century, coal mining drove Aguilar’s founding and early boom. The Aguilar Depot Museum, housed in a former train depot, displays mining equipment and artifacts from the town’s past.

North of Aguilar, the mining town turned art colony of Crested Butte still exudes old-time charm with its preserved Victorian buildings. Scenic drives over Kebler Pass or the Ruby Range on the West Elk Loop Byway reveal Aspen groves and traces of the Ute people who once roamed this area.

Layers of cultural heritage overlap with the dramatic natural backdrop to create an unforgettable experience of Colorado’s history.

Where Local Flavors Shine

Near Aguilar, you can swing by the Exit 30 BBW & Cafe to fuel up on your way to or back from mountain adventures.

In nearby Trinidad, artisan pizzeria The Brix mixes Colorado craft beer and wines into inventive pie combinations. Food with Spanish and Mexican influences, such as tacos, enchiladas, and tamales, dominates menus at favorites like The Cafe, and Nana and Nano’s.

The Walsenburg and La Veta areas tempt visitors with orchard-fresh fruits and vegetables from the region’s farms. Stock up on preserves, baked goods, and produce to enjoy during your stay in Aguilar, or bring home as edible souvenirs.

Planning Your Aguilar Adventure

With its small-town charm and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, cultural discovery, and sampling local flavors, Aguilar makes an ideal base camp for exploring Colorado attractions.

The best time to visit depends on your interests. September brings warm days and cool nights perfect for hiking and mountain biking, while summer is ideal for water sports and family activities. Winter offers an entirely different roster of snow sports.

Aguilar accommodations range from hotels and motels to RV parks and campgrounds. For more variety, the nearby cities of Trinidad and Walsenburg have additional lodging options.

The closest major airport is Denver International Airport, just over 200 miles north of Aguilar. Colorado Springs Airport also offers connections. Rental cars are recommended since public transportation is very limited.

So load up the car, grab the hiking boots and fishing poles, and get ready to soak up adventure, culture, and natural beauty while discovering Aguilar’s small-town charm and hidden gems.


What are the top things to do in Aguilar?

The top attractions and activities around Aguilar include:

  • Driving the scenic byways like the Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway
  • Hiking in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness or to mountain lakes and waterfalls
  • Fishing along the Arkansas River and other waterways
  • Checking out historic mining towns like Crested Butte and Lake City
  • Exploring archaeological and cultural sites like the Aguilar Depot Museum
  • Attending annual events like the Little Britches Rodeo and Aguilar Fair & Rodeo

When is the best time to visit Aguilar?

Late summer and early fall provide ideal weather for most outdoor activities, with warm sunny days and cool evenings perfect for camping. Spring offers another nice season before summer crowds arrive.

Winter is best for snow sports like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing. The summer months bring hotter temperatures well-suited for water recreation and sightseeing.

What type of accommodation options does Aguilar have?

As a small town, Aguilar doesn’t seem to offer any motel or inn options. However, nearby campgrounds and RV parks, like Gears RV Park, provide lodging close to nature.

For more variety, the nearby cities of Trinidad and Walsenburg have hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfast accommodations.

How do I get to Aguilar?

Aguilar is just over 200 miles south of Denver International Airport, which offers the closest major airport access. Colorado Springs Airport also connects through Denver or other hubs.

Visitors will need to rent a car or book a shuttle service to access Aguilar, as public transit options are very limited in the rural area. The drive from Denver takes around 3.5 hours, while Colorado Springs is 2 hours away.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.