America's Best Ski Towns
Whether you're looking for challenging terrain, a buzzy après-ski scene, luxury ski lodges, or plenty to do on and off the slopes, America's many ski towns offer something for every traveler. You don't have to be an advanced skier to enjoy the cozy atmosphere and postcard-perfect views at these winter vacation destinations.
From the famed Colorado mountains to the Northeast's charming spots, we've rounded up a range of small towns located near ski areas and big-time ski destinations that everyone should visit at least once. Here are 11 of the best ski towns in the U.S.
Related: More ski trip ideas
Park City, Utah
Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on Park City each year, whose Main Street still has the rugged good looks of a 19th-century western mining town. It puts skiers within easy reach of mountain resorts (including Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain), hosts the Sundance Film Festival, and has become a culinary hotbed. The ski-in High West Saloon offers flights of their whiskeys alongside dishes infused with the spirits. Luxury hotels include the Waldorf Astoria Park City, Stein Eriksen Lodge, and Montage Deer Valley.
Taos, New Mexico
At the turn of the 20th century, artists Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein stopped to have a broken wagon wheel replaced in Taos and decided to stay. Then socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan brought well-known artists like Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, and Georgia O'Keeffe, who fell for the drama of this desert town surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The art colony spirit lives on in Taos, where the walkable downtown is rife with art galleries and adobe inns. After a day out skiing, retreat to El Monte Sagrado, where treatments include massages and astrological birth chart readings.
Beer and snow go hand in hand in this town, which has over two dozen breweries along the Bend Ale Trail. The compact historic downtown fits an impressive number of breweries (of course), restaurants, and boutiques. And while Bend receives less than 12 inches of rain annually, Mt. Bachelor — under 30 minutes away by car — gets an average of more than 400 inches of snow. The ski area has 101 runs over 4,300 skiable acres.
This former mining town lies in a box canyon, surrounded on three sides by 14,000-foot peaks, so few places can rival its natural beauty or solitude (the town is home to just a couple thousand residents). A free, scenic gondola links Telluride to the neighboring Mountain Village, and Telluride Ski Resort itself counts 148 trails, multiple terrain parks, and an average annual snowfall of 280 inches.
The artsy town of Ketchum is about one and a half miles from Sun Valley Resort, built in 1936. The ski resort has 121 runs across more than 2,000 skiable acres, ranging from easy to expert-only. Plus, there's year-round ice skating at indoor and outdoor rinks. After a day on the slopes, grab some hot cocoa and look up — Ketchum and Sun Valley are located within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, so they offer some incredible stargazing.
A church steeple rises over this quaint colonial town chartered in 1763 amid the Green Mountains. Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield, is here, as are both double black diamond trails and plenty of beginner runs. Aside from skiing several distinctive areas at Stowe Mountain Resort, there are simple pleasures like the Ben & Jerry's ice cream plant and old-fashioned Shaw's General Store. If you're in the mood, splurge on a stay at Topnotch Resort, where a CBD massage caps off a day on the slopes.
Colorado's largest historic district is in Breckenridge, which was settled during the 1859 Gold Rush. But it wasn't until the 1960s that Western-movie-set-like "Breck" got its first ski runs. The free Summit Stage bus service to Copper Mountain and Keystone makes it easy to hop between mountains, so you can ski lots of terrain during your trip. To get going on snowshoe and cross-country ski trails, turn to the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Breck, like many great ski towns, has a namesake brewery and distillery, plus the Gold Pan Saloon (with the longest continuous liquor license west of the Mississippi).
Jackson Hole's namesake ski resort in Teton Village features terrain for all levels and plenty of other snowy outdoor activities, plus convenient, upscale digs like the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. But Jackson, a half hour from the village and Jackson Hole Airport, is marvelous in its own right — and still the kind of town where "dressed up" generally means jeans. Plus, it's just a short drive from Grand Teton National Park.
North Conway, New Hampshire
Located amid the White Mountain National Forest, North Conway makes a striking statement with its pastel-colored Victorian architecture. It's within a half hour of more than 10 ski resorts and cross-country centers with hundreds of trails. Take a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway for scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
One of the nation's most famous ski destinations, Vail offers world-class skiing at Vail Ski Resort, five-star hotels, and a lively bar and restaurant scene. Vail's charming ski villages — Vail Village and Lionshead Village — offer a picture-perfect setting at the base of the massive ski resort, where you'll find more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Located just a short drive from Glacier National Park in Montana's Rocky Mountains, Whitefish is a nature lover's dream. Whitefish Mountain Resort, just seven miles north of the town of Whitefish, offers skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling across its 3,000-plus acres of skiable terrain. The Snow bus provides free transportation between Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort, making it easy to hit the slopes during the day and grab a beer at a local Whitefish brewery at night.