The 18 Best Ski Towns in the U.S.

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What does it mean to be a great ski town? Obviously, the slopes play a huge part. It also needs to have a nice village with shops, restaurants and activities for the whole family, plus great lodgings—from luxury resorts to cozy cabin rentals. Depending on who you ask, a vibrant après-ski scene certainly doesn’t hurt either. The option to do other winter sports like snowshoeing and snowmobiling is always fun, too. We took all this into account when putting together our picks for the best ski towns in America. Yes, you’re going to see a lot of places in Colorado. But our list also includes standouts in New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and California. OK, we’ll see you on the mountain.

The Best Mountain Towns in the U.S.

best ski towns in the u s breckenridge colorado
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1. Breckenridge, Colorado

Nestled at the base of the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge was settled during the 1859 Gold Rush. That history is on display throughout the colorful buildings in the western-tinged historic district. It’s also a top-notch ski destination with access to Copper Mountain and Keystone. For more alpine excitement, try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Warm-up with a pint at Breckenridge Brewery or the long-operating Gold Pan Saloon.

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best ski towns in the u s north conway new hampshire
Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce/Flickr

2. North Conway, New Hampshire

Many people might be surprised to learn that the birthplace of American downhill skiing isn’t some powder-covered place in Colorado but rather North Conway. This endlessly charming New Hampshire town filled with pastel-hued Victorian houses and mom-and-pop shops continues its long-standing winter legacy. Can you name another destination that’s 30 minutes away from nearly a dozen ski resorts and cross-country centers? Neither can we.

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best ski towns in the u s vail colorado
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3. Vail, Colorado

A classic Colorado ski destination with a bit of a bougie side that’s set within White River National Forest, Vail boasts more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain and a famously lively après-ski vibe, plus a slew of five-star lodges for travelers who prefer to unwind in posh digs after carving fresh powder. You’ll also find plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to keep the whole family in good spirits.

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best ski towns in the u s aspen colorado
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4. Aspen, Colorado

Consistently ranked among America’s best ski towns, Aspen definitely deserves all its clout. Natural beauty and world-class skiing are just the beginning. There’s ample stuff to do off the slopes, too. Starting with the buzzy après-ski options. (Did someone say mobile champagne bar?) Bundle up to explore the scenic hiking trails in Maroon Bells and splurge on a luxe ski-in/ski-out hotel.

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best ski towns in the u s jackson wyoming
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5. Jackson, Wyoming

A great mountain to visit no matter the season, Jackson (which BTW does it up big for Christmas) puts skiers within easy reach of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort. Downtown Jackson gives visitors a peek at its pioneering past with western-themed bars, restaurants, shops and galleries. Did we mention it’s a short drive from Grand Teton National Park?

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6. Park City, Utah

It wouldn’t be a proper list of the ultimate ski destinations without mentioning Park City. This 19th-century mining-town-turned-winter-hotspot lures snow-seekers each season. The powdery slopes at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain are the biggest draw. In recent years, big-name chefs have opened up buzzy restaurants. Add to that luxury lodgings and, of course, the Sundance Film Festival which takes place in late January.

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best ski towns in the u s telluride colorado
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7. Telluride, Colorado

Telluride wows as a winter escape. Tucked in a box canyon, surrounded by towering peaks, this former mining town offers tons to do for travelers of all ages and skill levels. Telluride Ski Resort has 148 trails, 17 total lifts (because who wants to wait in line for the gondola?) and averages 280 inches of powder annually. Even if you don’t ski, the stunning scenery and festive atmosphere are worth the trip.

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best ski towns in the u s truckee california
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8. Truckee, California

Truckee doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to seasonal enticements. This Lake Tahoe-area town puts eight ski resorts within arms’, err poles’, reach. Honestly, the most difficult decision is deciding whether to shred at family-friendly Tahoe Donner, where kids as young as three can take lessons, or Northstar California. Other popular winter activities include cross-country skiing, tubing, sledding and snowmobiling.

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best ski trips in the u s stowe vermont
Trapp Family Lodge

9. Stowe, Vermont

Not only is Stowe one of the most charming towns in Vermont, it also boasts the highest peak in the state, Mount Mansfield. That means expert-level vertical drops, beginner runs and upwards of 340 inches of snow. In addition to hitting the slopes, stroll around the picture-perfect downtown, sample farm-to-table fare, savor a scoop or two of Ben & Jerry’s straight from the source (who cares if it’s cold) and post up at a cozy inn.

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best ski trips in the u s ketchum idaho
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10. Ketchum, Idaho

Proximity to Sun Valley Resort, which counts 121 runs across 2,054 skiable acres, makes Ketchum a big-time destination for winter sports. Visitors can go for a spin at the year-round indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks. The coolest part? The area is set within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. And no matter what the thermometer reads, it’s never too cold for spectacular stargazing.

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best ski towns in the u s whitefish montana
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11. Whitefish, Montana

The gateway to Glacier National Park, Whitefish is a small town with friendly locals and a big personality. It’s an incredible destination for a Christmas vacation. And the delights don’t end when Mr. and Mrs. Claus leave. Opportunities for downhill skiing and snowboarding abound at Whitefish Mountain Resort. There's also frosty terrain for snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

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best ski towns in the u s bend oregon
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12. Bend, Oregon

Unlike much of the Pacific Northwest, Bend enjoys 300 days of rays each year. So it’s likely to be a bright and sunshine-y day when you barrel down Mount Bachelor, located less than 30 minutes outside of town. Barreling downhill is bound to work up an appetite—and thirst. Toast to your successful runs (and attempt to forget those that didn’t go so well) at one or the breweries along the Bend Ale Trail.

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best ski towns in the u s taos new mexico
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13. Taos, New Mexico

A dreamy desert town in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with a creative soul and lots of ski prowess, Taos is an absolutely dazzling winter destination sans the crowds that flood to some of the bigger-name winter vacay spots. It’s also a trip that’s guaranteed to reinvigorate your soul. When you’re not zooming down the mountain, head to the walkable downtown to browse art galleries and indie shops, savor distinctive Southwestern cuisine and check out the UNESCO-listed Taos Pueblo.

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best ski towns in the u s killington vermont
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14. Killington, Vermont

Known as “The Beast of the East,” massive Killington Mountain has over 141 trails and 1,500 acres of skiable terrain, plus a super early opening date if you just can’t wait for ski season to start. That translates to runs for everyone, whether you’re a novice ski bunny or an expert. In between trips down the mountain, take advantage of the après-ski bars and restaurants.

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best ski towns us the village at mammoth lake california
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15. Mammoth Lakes, California

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing—all this and more is possible at one of California’s most underrated ski towns, Mammoth Lakes. Tucked in the Eastern Sierras, a stone’s throw from Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes runs the state’s highest chairlift-serviced peak. When not partaking in snow-day activities, venture out to the (free) hot springs around town or explore the Village at Mammoth, a quaint little area loaded with restaurants and local shops. 

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best ski towns us bozeman montana
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16. Bozeman, Montana  

Experience backcountry living in Bozeman, Montana. Though more of a city than a town (the population is just under 55,000), it sits in between Bridger Bowl Ski Area and Big Sky, two premier skiing destinations. For those who love the adrenaline rush of flying down a mountain, Bridger Bowl is located just 20 minutes north of the city. Drive south through Gallatin National Forest and you’ll hit Big Sky, which lays claim to the continent’s fastest chairlift. You might come for the skiing, but don’t be surprised if you end up staying for the festivals, museums, symphonies and art galleries around town.  

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17. Ogden, Utah 

Though often overshadowed by Salt Lake City, Ogden, Utah, means business. Located 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, Ogden receives over 500 inches of snow annually. The Utah ski town is located within 20 minute’s distance from three ski resorts: Powder Mountain, Snowbasin (home of 2022 Olympics super-G, downhill and combined races) and family-friendly Nordic Valley. Did we mention that the lift lines are also shorter? Plus, there are real local shops in town (forget the fake, overpriced Western stuff) in addition to breweries, distilleries and restaurants that offer warm and cozy après-ski spots. Shooting Star Saloon is an institution that has been in continuous operation since 1879. Not your vibe? Stroll down the historic 25th Street, grab a cocktail or catch a comedy show instead.  

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best ski towns us marquette michigan
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18. Marquette, Michigan

Sitting on the banks of Lake Superior, Marquette, Michigan, is a small city with big appeal. USA Today deems Marquette the “Best Small Town for Adventure,” while HGTV put it on its “30 Most Charming Small-Town Downtowns in America” list. Marquette Mountain is five minutes away from downtown, where you’ll find backcountry trails and groomed runs, as well a the Terrain Park for those who fancy twists and tricks. From winter walks on the icy lakeshore to snow-covered forests, waterfalls and coves, nature's sheer beauty casts an irresistible spell. Visitors to Marquette will also find the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Museum. The birthplace of organized skiing, Ishpeming, is 20 minutes away, where they host an annual ski jumping tournament.  

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