Folks usually discover Mancos' truly Western landscape and culture on their way to somewhere else. Just 6 miles east of the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, the town's visitor center is the perfect stop for travelers in search of park information or a good place to eat.

Something magical happens, however, once visitors step onto the quaint, historical streets of town that once inspired Western writer Louis L'Amour (it was here, in fact, where he wrote many of his beloved novels).

The historical buildings (including the Columbine Bar, one of the oldest operating bars in Colorado), Main Street cattle drives and quaint shops keep that Western feeling alive. What sets Mancos apart from so many old Western towns is the wave of artisans who've left their indelible mark on town.

The beauty of the area's landscape and culture is a deep well of inspiration, and the Mancos Creative District reflects that. Stroll through town and soak up this blend of cowboy culture and artistic flair in the galleries and shops, along the with vibrantly colored murals that adorn many walls. Enjoy a different kind of art in the form of craft beverages, such as those starring locally sourced apples at Fenceline Cider, the brews of Mancos Brewing Company or a steaming cup of coffee along the river at Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters. If you're visiting in late July or early August, you might even get to join in the Mancos Days celebration, which includes plenty of events and culminates with a rodeo.

Of course, Mesa Verde National Park is less than 15 minutes from town, a must-see destination in southwest Colorado. After you’ve toured the ancient dwellings and learned about this area’s earliest inhabitants, head back to the uncrowded setting of town. The nearby Chicken Creek trail system offers peaceful exploration, be it on foot, bike or skis.

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