What makes a ski town so perfect? Is it the deep powder snow, challenging terrain, and runs that extend thousands of feet? Or, are the cozy eateries, après-ski nightlife, and snow day activities more important? When you travel to one of the best ski towns in America, you won't have to choose. These towns combine the best of the best, offering slopes to suit skiers of all abilities and a broad range of non-skiing fun. Do as the locals do and make your ski getaway well rounded with varied winter sports, hearty cuisine, stunning scenery, and ventures beyond the snow.
Bethel, Maine brings travelers to the most beautiful slopes of New England. Often referred to as "the Jewel of Oxford County," this Appalachian town's Sunday River resort is home to 135 trails and 2,300 feet of vertical drop. Plus, it's just a short drive from several other popular peaks. Despite its small size, Bethel has several delicious dining options, from Italian to BBQ. On your down days, head out of town for stunning nature views at White Mountain National Forest.
For family-friendly skiing, try North Conway, New Hampshire, known as the North American ski scene's birthplace. The Cranmore Mountain Resort is geared towards adults and children of all ages with 1,200 feet of vertical and over 50 runs. When you're tired of the slopes, there are still plenty of snowy activities for families to enjoy together. Hitch a ride on a dog-drawn sled, or show your ice dancing skills at the nearby public rink. If you'd rather shelter from the chill, North Conway is known for its array of cozy inns and cafés.
Enjoy a premium getaway at Telluride, Colorado, where celebrities venture for a luxury skiing experience. Alongside a selection of boutique hotels with high-end amenities, Telluride plays host to Peaks Resort—a ski-in ski-out lodge with the largest spa in the state. As for the slopes themselves, you'll find almost 130 trails, over 3,800 feet of lift-served vertical, and a further 600 feet for those happy to hike to advanced terrain.
Stowe, Vermont may sound familiar if you remember the enchanted ski town where The Sound of Music's von Trapp family set up home. After enjoying the 2,360 feet of vertical and 116 runs, you can head to the Trapp Family Lodge for a taste of Austria. Visit in January, and you'll also get to experience the town's famous Winter Carnival. From ice carving to ice fishing to snowball volleyball, this festival shows how deeply the magic of snow runs through Stowe.
Just a short distance from Salt Lake City sits Alta, Utah, with over 2,500 feet of vertical gain and over 115 trails. Alta has a lift ticket partnership with the nearby Snowbird resort, doubling your opportunities for slope action. However, note that this town is best for dedicated and experienced skiers. The challenging terrain here is great for experts, and après-ski takes a backseat to the sport itself. If you do want to enjoy nightlife and fine dining, head to a neighboring town at the end of the day.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (which locals shorten to Jackson) is a dream for avid skiers. Known for its deep, slow-melting snow throughout the season, it also has the biggest continuous vertical drop in America. Alongside the 4,100 feet gain, you'll find 116 runs, 50% of which are rated black diamond and above. After skiing the thrilling terrain, enjoy a hearty steak meal and wash it down at the local brewery with a refreshing craft beer.
In Saranac Lake, New York, you'll find a village ski center with 15 skiable areas, plus snow tubing and snowshoe trails. Just a few minutes away, Whiteface boasts a vertical drop of 3,150 feet. This classic small town may be one of the lesser-known skiing destinations in New York, but that makes it all the better. Every season, the longest-running Winter Carnival hits town for 10 days of innovative arctic sports, parades, fireworks, and more.
The state's largest ski area, Big Sky, Montana, is a sprawling winter playground with slopes suitable for every skier. Over 250 runs mark the terrain, which has over 4,300 feet of vertical. Near to Yellowstone National Park, this town attracts big crowds with its supreme conditions and luxury experience. Alongside winter sports activities, the hot springs and geysers are an après-ski favorite.
Bend, Oregon, is the ideal destination for travelers who want to do more than ski. Don't get us wrong—as a ski town, Bend truly excels. In the Mount Bachelor ski area, you'll find over 100 trails and a 3,350-foot vertical drop, along with luscious powder snow and opportunities for snowboarding or mountain biking. However, there's also plenty more to do if you get tired of the slopes. Travel to Bend, and you'll find everything from golf courses to beer breweries right at your doorstep.
Even though California is not normally highlighted as a winter sports destination, Mammoth Lake, California, is actually one of America's best ski towns. The mountain has 150 named trails, a vertical gain of 3,100 feet, and a long season to accommodate early birds and late bloomers alike. In particular, families love Mammoth Lake thanks to its fun snowmobile rides and play trails for kids to enjoy. It's also within day-trip distance of Yosemite National Park, opening up the possibilities for outdoor adventures.