Back in the day: People used to pass right through on their way to Steamboat Springs, 50 miles northwest.
Now? New shops and eats are waking up the town.
Elevation: 7,362 feet.
Who’s here: Cattle ranchers, sportsmen, dropout stockbrokers, and wood-pellet peddlers (a new factory turns beetle-kill pine into stove fuel).
Main drag: Park Avenue’s four blocks are lined with clothing boutiques, housewares stores, and cheap grub.
Artsy kitsch: Wildlife carvings and cast-iron sculptures give storefronts an endearing eccentricity. In Kremmling Mercantile (101 Martin Way; 970/724-8979), mooing cows call shoppers to the dairy case.
Thirst quencher: Los Amigos ($; 109 S. Sixth St.; 970/724-9243) has a secluded outdoor patio and serves buckets of Corona or Mexican Coke.
Soak it all in: It’s hard to pick just one highlight of a half-day trip down the Upper Colorado River with Liquid Descent. Class II/III rapids churn beneath Lower Gore Canyon’s 500-foot walls. Bald eagles nest near the put-in at Pumphouse, and bighorn sheep roam the canyon cliffs downriver. And before the takeout at Radium? A dip in a riverside hot spring. $45; 8 and noon; liquiddescent.com
Front porch pick-me-up: Elk antlers share space with cycling trophies at Big Shooter Coffee, a buzzing shop owned by ranchers who love endurance sports—and java. There’s ice cream, but caffeinated types should try the Electric Fence (espresso, ice cream, milk, coffee grounds). Then grab a seat out front. $; 311 Park Ave.; 970/724-3735.
Shop Wild West: Ghostwood Interiors’ woodshop produces many of the store’s dressers, bedsteads, and stools (some from blue-stained beetle-kill pine). Wrought-iron wine racks and pony-hide coasters round out the selection. 300 Park Ave.; 970/724-1110.
Bring home the bacon: When the bull statue is out front, you know the Middle Park Meat Co. is open. This butcher shop specializes in aged steaks, apple-cured pork chops, and housemade bacon so good it has a cult following. Closed Sun; south of town at 1107 State 9; 970/724-3880.
Make it an overnight: The 10 cozy Muddy Creek Cabins, on the edge of town at the foot of the Cliffs, have kitchenettes, rustic pine furniture, and front porches with views of the mountains. From $109; muddycreekcabins.com
3 more watery adventures
See aquatic fossils: The Kremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Locality is a 182-acre ridge that’s chock-full of fossilized marine life from 73 million years ago. A quarter-mile one-way hike climbs to rocks embedded with clams, snails, and sea worms; some ammonites (predecessors to squid) span several feet. On Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land 14 miles north of town off County Rd. 26; 970/724-3000.
Plumb the canyon’s depths: The cleft in the mountain range to the southwest is Gore Canyon. Explore it via the BLM’s 1.5-mile one-way Gore Canyon Trail, which hugs the Colorado River as it passes under 1,000-foot rock cliffs. Spring runoff can drown the route; call for conditions. $3/vehicle; 13 miles from town on County Rd. 1 at Pumphouse (Launch Site 1); 970/724-3000.
Reel one in: During the Colorado River’s stonefly hatch (typically late May or June), trout feed in a frenzy that has earned nationwide fame among anglers. Hook into the action by wading the pools along the Gore Canyon Trail, or add your name to the call list at Grand County Fly Fishing Company, which guides float trips. From $350 (fishing license from $9; wildlife.state.co.us); grandflyfishing.com