This July 2011 photo provided by Steamboat Ski Resort shows visitors bicycling on the River Core Trail through Steamboat Springs, Colo. (Larry Pierce, Associated Press, provided by Steamboat Ski Resort)

Coloradans won’t be surprised that two of the top three “Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA” are in our state.

Telluride came out on top of the U.S. News 2018-19 ranking of more than 700 towns with populations of less than 50,000. Number three on the list is another ski resort town in another relatively remote corner of the state: Steamboat Springs.

The rankings were based on a combination of travelers’ opinions and editor analysis. Mountain towns rose above all other types of destinations on the list with Jackson Hole, Wyoming, coming in second. The high desert town of Sedona, Arizona (surrounded by towering red-rock buttes, we’re putting it in the mountain category — it certainly isn’t a beach), and Lake Tahoe, California, rounded out the top five.

The digital news and information company puts out an annual ranking of destinations, hotels and cruises to help its 40 million monthly visitors decide where to take their next vacation. U.S. News editors score individual destinations based on 10 categories: sights, culture, people, food, family, nightlife, adventure, romance, value and accessibility.

Telluride didn’t have to work hard for “sights.”

With dramatic red cliffs surrounding the historic town, lush valley floor and the river dancing through it, the Telluride ski map for years was emblazoned with the slogan, “The most beautiful place you’ll ever ski.”

Telluride. (Provided by Telluride Ski Resort)

“I wouldn’t say we’re ‘used to’ getting these awards, but ‘most beautiful place to ski’ is kind of a given,” said Tom Watkinson, who worked for the ski resort before taking his current position as communications director

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