The Most Majestic Mountain Towns in America

From Asheville and Aspen to Telluride and Truckee, these alpine escapes are utterly enchanting.

From Asheville and Aspen to Telluride and Truckee, these alpine escapes are utterly enchanting.

By Lindsay Cohn, Reader's Digest

Park City, Utah

Perched high in the Wasatch Mountains, Park City is famed for its epic slopes and fluffy powder. (No surprise, given that the state lays claim to “the greatest snow on Earth” and even trademarked the phrase in 1975.) The Holy Grail for winter sports enthusiasts, it’s home to two world-class resorts plus over 400 miles of trails (which are also lovely in the summer), posh lodgings, and pampering spas. These are the top 10 spots to ski in the United States.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

A hub of the fur trade, Jackson Hole has retained its Old West roots and offers an abundance of outdoor adventure. It’s the ultimate base camp for exploring the untrammeled beauty of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Ready to unpack your gear and catch some zzzs? Splurge on the Amangani or stay at Anvil Hotel, a revamped 1950s lodge in downtown. Fun fact: Teton County is one of the 10 places in America where people live the longest.

Woodstock, New York

Best known as the birthplace of the famous music festival, Woodstock has plenty to offer beyond concert cred. This hippie haven has long lured artists, dreamers, and free spirits. No matter how many people pass through, it holds tight to its laid-back vibe. The surrounding landscape teems with hemlock trees, family-owned farms, and picturesque peaks including Overlook Mountain.

Truckee, California

Truckee, on the California-Nevada border, is advertised as a “real town with an unreal backyard.” It’s blessed with scenic beauty, from the sparkling water and sandy shores of Lake Tahoe to Donner Memorial State Park (named after the ill-fated emigrant party) with its campsites, multi-use trails, and sheer faces for rock climbing. And Boca Reservoir boasts excellent salmon fishing.

Aspen, Colorado

Nestled in the Rockies, Aspen lures a well-heeled crowd with its outdoor recreation and exclusive reputation (high-end restaurants, upscale boutiques, and five-star accommodations). Winter brings snow-capped summits and a vibrant après-ski scene. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding make this mountain playground equally compelling once the snow melts. Don’t miss the Wheeler Opera House, built during the 19th-century mining boom. For more great travel destinations, can you guess the best weekend getaways in every state?

Bend, Oregon

Located three hours southeast of Portland, on the Deschutes River, Bend is the antidote to the dreariness often associated with this part of the country. Mild weather and 300 days of sunshine each year mean you can enjoy the great outdoors regardless of the season. Take a walk along the waterfront or trek up to Pilot Butte. On the off chance that it does rain, you can always go to the High Desert Museum.

North Conway, New Hampshire

New Hampshire doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, but North Conway might soon change all that. Its rolling hills, glistening lakes, and sprawling forests are the stuff of postcards. Need a little R&R? Fields of Ambrosia is dedicated to all-natural, therapeutic bath and body products—you can even craft a custom fragrance. For overnight accommodations, look no further than Stonehurst Manor.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Whether you’re a novice or a pro skier, you’ll find slopes to suit your skill level in Sun Valley. (Head to Bald Mountain for challenging runs and Dollar Mountain for beginner-friendly “bunny hills.”) There’s also dog sledding and ice skating. Scenic strolls, golfing, and white-water rafting makes a strong case for visiting in the summer, while enticing restaurants and shops add to the allure.

Dahlonega, Georgia

A dreamland set in the North Georgia Mountains, Dahlonega wows with its breathtaking scenery and rustic charm. The ambiance is authentic and welcoming—it’s not a place you have to put on airs. Sip regional wines at the tasting rooms surrounding the public square. Get your fix of history at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, in the 1836 courthouse. Venture Amicalola Falls State Park for cascades and zip lining. Speaking of, check out these high-wire acts around the world.

Asheville, North Carolina

Between tours at Biltmore Estate (a château-style mansion constructed by George Washington Vanderbilt) and The North Carolina Arboretum, you can pack a ton into a trip to the “Land of the Sky.” Of course, a rejuvenating massage at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville is always a good idea too. This alpine paradise also touts 17 farmers markets that sell seasonal produce, fresh-baked bread, and artisanal cheeses. Hungry for more? These are the top foodie cities in the world.

Carrabassett Valley, Maine

No two ways about it, Carrabassett Valley, in western Maine, is worth visiting in the winter and summer. Avid skiers and boarders flock to Sugarloaf during the former. When the temperature rises, it’s prime for rugged pursuits such as hiking and biking. (We’d recommend venturing to Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail.) Fewer crowds are another selling point for this time of year.

Telluride, Colorado

From trout fishing and hiking to cross-country skiing and snowboarding, this former gold rush burg offers activities for all seasons. On top of that, thrill seekers can ride the gondola up to 9,500 feet. Of course, there’s plenty of other tamer ways to fill your days, such as a trip to the Telluride Historical Museum or see a show at the Sheridan Opera House. Find out the most charming small towns in every state.

Ligonier, Pennsylvania

Unless you’re a Pennsylvania native, you may not know about Ligonier. And that would be a crying shame. First settled in the 1760s, this quintessential small town is teeming with historic sites and traditional architecture. Traveling with kids? There are also lots of greenspaces and family-friendly activities. No summer vacation is complete without a visit to Idlewild & SoakZone, the top-rated amusement parks in the area. Next, find out which mountain towns are a storybook paradise in winter.
Best of America, Travel


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Travel Magazine: The Most Majestic Mountain Towns in America
The Most Majestic Mountain Towns in America
From Asheville and Aspen to Telluride and Truckee, these alpine escapes are utterly enchanting.
Travel Magazine
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