Hidden Gem Colleges in the Rocky Mountains | 2022 Rankings

The Rocky Mountain Range spans over 3,000 miles from New Mexico to northern British Columbia in Canada. There are a lot of colleges in the Rocky Mountain area that are as mighty as the peaks themselves. However, some of those colleges aren’t household names yet. We wanted to highlight some amazing colleges among the Rockies.

To qualify as a Hidden Gem, a school must meet the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications per year
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students
  • Offer 5 or more unique majors
  • Have a 10% acceptance rate or higher

States included in the Rocky Mountain region are as follows: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.

*Note: We feature the top 3 Hidden Gems per state, however not all states had 3 schools that met all of our criteria, and so may only feature one or two.

Hidden Gems in the Rocky Mountains


Colorado Christian University has an incredibly high acceptance rate - 98%! Unlike many schools who use Latin in their school mottos, CCU takes inspiration from the Greeks. “χαρις και αληθεια” translates to mean “Grace and Truth.” Psychology is the most popular major, followed by Business Administration and Nursing.
Location Lakewood, CO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,587
Crimson and slate are the colors of Western Colorado University. 88% of WCU’s students study at the undergraduate level, though they can earn up to a master’s degree at the school. 83% of students receive institutional financial aid to help cover costs. Alumni of WCU have gone onto careers in athletics, politics, entertainment, and academics.
Location Gunnison, CO
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,487
A liberal arts school, Fort Lewis College is located by the Animas River. Business, Psychology, And Kinesiology are the three most popular majors. Skyler is the mascot of the Fort Lewis Skyhawks, who compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Only 39% of incoming students call Colorado home, many others come from New Mexico and Arizona.
Location Durango, CO
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,300


Did you know the College of Idaho is the oldest private liberal arts college in the state? The school offers up to a master’s degree. Graduates of the College of Idaho have gone into impressive careers in business, politics, law, and sports. The acceptance rate is just below 50% and the school does not charge students to apply.
Location Caldwell, ID
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,091
Red and black are the colors of the Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks sports teams. Track, basketball, soccer, and golf are popular sports on campus. The school has a 77% acceptance rate and does not charge students to apply. Also known as NNU, the university has a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Location Nampa, ID
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,111
Located along the Idaho and Washington border, by the Clearwater River, the Lewis-Clark State College was founded in 1893. Lewis-Clark State has a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio. The school has graduated a number of Major League Baseball players, including Brendan Ryan, Carlos Fisher, Jason Ellison, and Vic Darensbourg.
Location Lewiston, ID
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,748


Though the school seal features two lions, Carroll College’s mascot is actually a St. Bernard named Halo. Student athletes compete as the Fighting Saints in sports like track, basketball, and soccer. The campus is located near Mt. Helena. Registered Nursing is the most popular major, followed by Health Services and Biology.
Location Helena, MT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,231
Montana Technological University’s motto of “De Re Metallica” (“Of the metals”) pays homage to the school’s original name - the Montana School of Mines. In fact, the school’s seal features mining tools as well. Green and copper are the official school colors of the Montana Tech Orediggers.
Location Butte, MT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,714
Red, white, and black are the official colors of the University of Montana - Western. UMW, as it’s often called, offers 72% of their students financial aid to help cover costs. Business Administration, Elementary Education, Early Childhood Teaching, Equestrian Studies, and Health / Physical Education are the most popular majors.
Location Dillon, MT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,358


The doctor’s degree is the highest level of education offered at Westminster College. That said, only 21% of students on campus study at the graduate level. There is a cozy student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 at this school. Additionally, there’s a first-year retention rate of 80%. Students come from all over the country to attend Westminster. In fact, only 49% of freshmen are Utah natives.
Location Salt Lake City, UT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,215
One of the youngest colleges in America, the Neumont College of Computer Science was founded in 2003. The school offers 5 total undergraduate majors: Computer Programming, Network and System Administration, Information Technology Project Manager, Digital Web Page Design, and Virtual Environment and Simulation Modeling.
Location Salt Lake City, UT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 474


The University of Wyoming is one of the rare schools that features a live animal mascot - a horse named Cowboy Joe. Another mascot, Pistol Pete, is played by a student in costume. Brown and gold are the official school colors. Also known as UW, the university is a land-grant, space-grant, and public flagship school.
Location Laramie, WY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 12,249

*Note: While Wyoming did not have any colleges that qualified under our Hidden Gems criteria this year, we included the closest match. In the spirit of Hidden Gems, we feel it’s important to include schools from all states so students and families know about the opportunities around them.

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!


Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.