Something about skiing makes you want to be around other people who ski. It could be the connection between everyone who enjoys this sport, and it could be the desire to celebrate after a long day conquering slopes, or it might even be the need to brag about your epic powder turns. Whether you're planning a winter getaway to a ski town with friends or enjoying your backyard mountain, the best way to experience an authentic ski town is by staying in one of these top 20 Best Ski Towns in the U.S.
20. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Mountain is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders alike. According to Wikipedia, Aspen is the most populous municipality insidePitkin County, Colorado. Even though it's one of the most expensive ski towns to stay in, Aspen still attracts powder hounds from all over the country to its four mountains, which offer 23 lifts and more than 600 trails. After a day on the slopes, you can retreat to one of Aspen's cozy lodges for a glass of wine and live music. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance from most accommodations, so there is no need to worry about driving anywhere.
19. Killington, Vermont
Skiing in Vermont is about big mountains, thrills, and enormous fun. The biggest of these mountains is Killington which offers more than 3,400 acres of skiable terrain amidst some of the most beautiful natural scenery you'll ever lay eyes on. For those seeking luxury (and some incredible views), there are many options to choose from in Killington, which is located only 90 miles north of Boston.
18. Whitefish, Montana
The town of Whitefish is also known as Big Mountain because it's surrounded by big mountains that are covered with snow year-round. The Whitefish Mountain Resort features 27 lifts and more than 3,000 acres worth of fun on the slopes. Another popular ski area with many accommodations is the Big Mountain Ski Area which hosts festivals, ski races, and concerts.
17. Breckenridge, Colorado
Located in Colorado, Breckenridge is a beautiful town with many different lodging options to choose from. You can also walk around and experience some of the best nightlife that Colorado has to offer after a long day on the slopes. The ski area itself features more than 4,000 acres of trails and lifts, so you will never run out of terrain to explore.
16. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe Mountain Resort is located in the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains. The area offers some of the most challenging trails in New England, so you'll need to work hard—and have fun—to earn your turns. After a day on the slopes, you can relax in one of Stowe's many restaurants, bars, and spas located right on property at some lodges.
15. Truckee, California
Truckee is located in California's famous Tahoe Basin and is just 2 hours north of Reno. There are two popular ski resorts in this area, including Northstar-at-Tahoe which offers some incredible views of Lake Tahoe, plus it has the largest skiable terrain park in all of California. According to Wikipedia, Truckee, California had one of the first mechanized ski lifts in the country. Don't miss taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride at the Donner Summit Sno-Park to get your bearings straight for your next ski run.
Durango Mountain Resort is located in southwest Colorado and is home to some of the best hiking, biking, and skiing. The resort itself offers lifts that take you up to 13,000 feet, so you have a spectacular view of Durango as your backdrop. You can also enjoy a range of dining options from casual fare to fine cuisine at one of the many on-site restaurants.
13. Waitsfield, Vermont
Located in Vermont, Mad River Valley is home to the Sugarbush Ski Resort. This resort has one of the highest skiable altitudes at 4,000 feet, plus it's also got some great meadows and trails, which are perfect for both beginners and advanced skiers alike. There are also options for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more for those looking for something more relaxing than downhill skiing. Many lodging options are available in the Mad River Valley, just a short drive from Montreal and Burlington.
12. Bend, Oregon
Bend is located in Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range, about two hours outside Portland. The area offers incredible wildlife experiences that you won't find anywhere else in the U.S. There are also more than 80 mountain biking trails and six ski resorts to choose from, with over 3,000 acres worth of terrain for skiing or snowboarding.
11. Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Ski Resort is located in southwest Colorado and boasts some of the best skiing in North America. The resort itself features four peaks with more than 3,000 acres of lift-served terrain, so you'll never run out of trails to explore. There are also many lodging options, including hotels, condominiums, and private chalets, many of which offer incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
10. Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park in southeast Wyoming. This resort is known for its world-class skiing and access to some of the best backcountry trails around. Plus, you'll have incredible views of the nearby mountains right from your room or cabin when you stay at one of many accommodations found in the area.
9. Ogden, Utah
There are five major ski resorts located within 40 minutes of downtown Ogden, making it easy to go for an afternoon on the slopes. Plus, if you're looking for some excitement after a long day on the mountain, there are more than 100 bars and restaurants that line the sidewalks of Ogden's Historic 25th Street District. If you have the time, take a day to explore Utah's State Capitol at Salt Lake City, where you can take an underground tour of the capitol building, which is the only one in the U.S. with a functioning sauna.
8. Bellingham, Washington
Mount Baker is located about 90 minutes north of Seattle, and it's often cited as one of the best ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. The resort has a wide range of terrain, ranging from groomed runs to backcountry glades; plus, you can access some great trails that are only available by hiking or skinning up if you're looking to take full advantage of the mountain. Even if you're just in town for a day trip, there are many things to do, including checking out the nearby arts district or taking an aerial tour of Bellingham Bay.
7. Vail, Colorado
Vail is located in Colorado's scenic Eagle County, and it's one of the top ski towns to visit. The resort boasts five mountain faces with a combined 735 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain. If you're looking for a more rustic vibe, several guides can take you on an afternoon fishing trip or show you the best spots to catch some trout or salmon.
6. Taos, New Mexico
Taos Ski Valley is located about 100 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. According to Skiresort, the resort is one of the highest ski areas in North America at an elevation of 12,570 feet and it's well known for its wide variety of terrain that ranges from beginner to expert. There are also several lodging options in the area including cozy cabins, charming lodges, and luxurious five-star resorts.
5. North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway is located in New Hampshire's White Mountains, about 90 minutes north of Boston. The resort itself has more than 100 trails spread throughout several peaks. Plus, with everything from steep chutes to soft groomers, there's something for skiers and riders of every ability level. There are also several local hot spots where you can grab a drink or bite to eat at the end of your day on the mountain.
4. Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is located about three and a half hours southwest of Denver, and it's often cited as one of the best ski towns in Colorado. The resort has some fabulous advanced terrain; plus, several backcountry tours depart from the base area for those looking to explore what lies beyond the resort boundaries. If you're looking for something a little more low-key, there are some great local breweries you can check out or spend an afternoon exploring downtown Crested Butte.
3. Ketchum, Idaho
Located near Sun Valley, Ketchum is surrounded by the Sawtooth National Forest, and it's one of the best ski towns in America. The resort itself has some excellent beginner terrain and plenty of challenging runs that will challenge even the most experienced skiers and riders. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there are also several other outdoor activities to take advantage of, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding.
2. Park City, Utah
Park City is located in the Wasatch Mountains, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City, and it's one of the most popular ski towns in America. The resort offers something for everyone with more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and more than 100 trails. Several backcountry tours depart from the resort for those looking to explore the mountain off the beaten path.
1. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
One of the best ski towns in America, Pagosa Springs, is located about two and a half hours south of Durango. The resort itself has more than 850 acres of skiable terrain, which includes some tremendous advanced runs and plenty of spots for beginners to practice their skills. Plus, with several backcountry tours that depart from the base area, there are endless opportunities for adventure even after your day on the mountain is over.
How to choose the best ski town
Choosing the best ski town is as subjective as choosing the best ski resort. For example, if powder and steeps are your things, you'll likely want to head somewhere like Jackson Hole over Vail, where there's plenty of nice stuff but not nearly as much sheer vertical drop. below is what to consider before choosing a town to go skiing:
1. What type of skier are you?
Find out what type of skiing the town/resort is best for, or if it's suitable for all types. A little bit of research on what you like to do while skiing will go a long way.
2. How far is the resort?
If you're driving, chances are you want to stick close to home, so it's more convenient. If flying, you can choose wherever you please based on other considerations (type of skiing, prices, etc.).
3. How much do I want to spend?
If you're on a budget, it might be best to save some dough and choose a town that's not as renowned as others. You can still go skiing and have a fantastic time! For example, Crested Butte doesn't have the steepest terrain, but it's peerless when it comes to off-the-mountain activities.
4. How much do I want to spend?
If you're willing to splurge, then perhaps Park City is for you - it's got the most diverse terrain and the most extended ski season in America. Remember that holiday rates will be the most expensive; it's also not too far away from Salt Lake City airport, convenient for flying.
5. Do I want to eat out every night?
You're going to find more affordable food options in ski towns than you will in cities like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago. That doesn't mean you won't be able to eat out or go on a nice date, but it will limit your dining options.
6. How much do I want to spend on lodging?
There are some fantastic ski-in/ski-out lodges at world-class resorts that charge accordingly, but there are also some affordable boutique hotels that have fantastic views of the mountain for under $100 per night.
7. Do I mind sharing a bathroom?
Yes, it's not the most glamorous thing in the world, but if you're on a budget and don't care about staying at one of these luxury condo/hotels (which are usually pretty nice), then this could be a viable option.
8. What type of activities would I like to do after skiing?
Like Jackson (and pretty much everywhere in Colorado), some places offer plenty of opportunities for off-the-mountain fun, such as horseback riding and hot springs. Other places might only offer the basics like shopping and bingo, but they still have fantastic terrain.
9. Would I like to ski in the morning and party at night?
Since you're likely going to be spending most of your time skiing, can you afford to spend a few bucks on drinks and food when there's not much else to do? If so, then maybe Killington or Vail is more your speed, as they offer a ton of dining and après-ski options.
10. Where does my favorite pro ski racer go to train?
This might seem like it's not relevant, but the majority of pro racers spend their off-seasons skiing at Lake Tahoe or Mammoth. These resorts offer steeps, bumps, and trees (to name a few), which is what you'll find on the World Cup circuit.
11. What type of terrain would I like to ski?
Since there are limited places in the U.S. with real mountains, some towns overflow with tree runs while others are known for their bumps. Again, it's about research and knowing what you like to ski before you book that trip.
12. Do I want to stay in town or drive out?
If you're looking for a quaint, more rustic experience, then staying right in the heart of the village is probably more up your alley. If you like the five* treatment and don't mind driving 45 minutes, then you might want to look into neighboring towns. Jackson Hole is a great example; it has its mountain with really steep terrain and Teton Village right across the street that's home to the Grand Targhee Ski Resort.
There are many great ski towns in the country, but these 20 have proven to be some best. If you're looking to escape the cold weather and spend a few days on a mountainside in a cozy cabin, make sure you put one of these resorts at the top of your list.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn