7 Best Small-town Ski Destinations in America

Want to explore some special slopes? Try these cool, quaint towns with great mountain access.

America's big-name ski towns are famous for a reason, and we love all that they have to offer. But if you've been there and done that, consider forgoing a brand-name spot and trying a small-town ski resort instead. After all, the United States is home to more than 500 ski resorts from coast to coast.

Snow covered town of Telluride, Colorado

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Here are nine smaller ski towns to check out this season and beyond. Note: It's important to remember that many small ski towns are experiencing significant housing shortages. Please do visit, but always do your best to book a local hotel or inn when you do.

Crested Butte, Colorado

 Snow Covered Mountains and homes in Crested Butte, Colorado

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Crested Butte, found southwest of Denver, is by every measure a small town. It’s home to fewer than 1,700 full-time residents and comes with a Main Street that looks like something out of an Old Western movie. It’s also home to some of the best skiing in Colorado. The mountain hosts 121 trails across all terrain types (beginner, intermediate, and expert-only) and has 1,547 acres of skiable terrain, all blanketed by more than 230 inches of annual snowfall. 

Waitsfield, Vermont

Waitsfield, a town with 1,735 residents, is located in the northern half of the state and comes with all the New England charm you could ask for. We're talking covered bridges, white steeple churches, and tiny cafes ready to welcome and warm you with a cup of cocoa. It doesn’t hurt that the town is just 15 minutes from Mad River Glen, home to more than 2,300 vertical feet of skiing. It also runs the only single chair in the lower 48, so you can always find a little solitude. 

Bethel, Maine

A nordic skier prepares to head out on the trails at the Bethel Village Ski Center

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Travel west to find another spectacular small-town ski area to explore: Bethel, Maine. The community, home to about 2,600 people, is another picture-perfect mountain village with its own covered bridges, mountain vistas, and a town that prides itself on its delicious food and beverage scene. Before heading to its restaurants and bars, work up an appetite by spending the day at Sunday River, a ski resort that sits just 11 minutes away. Spanning more than three miles, the mountain has plenty of space to roam and several high-speed lifts to help you get in as many turns as possible. 

Tannersville, Pennsylvania 

Skier Tyler Carter heads down the slope at Camelback Ski Resort in Tannersville with Ava McEntirer, 12, of West Chester, left, and Madison Hahs, 10, of West Grove, Chester County.

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Those seeking a classic American winter vacation destination need not look further than Tannersville, a quaint community of about 2,600 people in the Pocono Mountains. Yes, it’s a place that’s great for year-round fun thanks to its endless hiking trails, ATV rentals, fishing, and horseback riding, but it truly shines in the winter thanks to its proximity to Camelback Mountain. Just minutes away, visitors will find a mountain tailor-made for beginners and intermediate riders who can explore its 39 trails during the day or under the lights thanks to its night-skiing operation. 

North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway, a sliver of land that sits close to the New Hampshire/Maine border, is a town of 2,400 people that is a gateway to White Mountain National Forest. It’s a place where things move slowly in the best way possible. Come here any time of year to be delighted by wildflowers in the spring, gorgeous hiking and kayaking conditions in the summer, foliage in the fall, and a beautiful blanket of snow in the winter. Make use of that freshly fallen snow by heading over to Attitash Mountain Resort, just a 13-minute drive from North Conway. There, you’ll find 68 trails spread across two interconnected mountains, which all come together to make 23 miles of skiing. 

Telluride, Colorado

Snow covered Main street in Telluride, Colorado

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If you’ve done a bit of skiing and snowboarding in the U.S., odds are you’ve heard the name Telluride. But it’s important to get to know the town behind the fantastic mountain. Just 2,500 people call Telluride home year-round, and it comes with a wildly photogenic main drag, filled with shops and cafes that look straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the mountain sees more than 300 inches of snow annually and has 2,000 skiable acres to explore.

Taos, New Mexico

Kachina Peak Of Taos New Mexico - the most widely talked about new face of skiing

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One more place to try on your small-town ski adventure is Taos, a town with fewer than 7,000 full-time residents. The community, located in northern New Mexico’s high desert, is the spot to be if you like world-class dining, a rich arts and culture scene, and some of the most eco-friendly skiing in the nation. That last one is thanks to the fact that Taos is the only B-corp-certified mountain in America, and is carbon neutral.

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