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7 Best Ski Towns in the US

1/22/18 by Elizabeth Stanek

From the rugged Rockies to the Green Mountains, the living is easy in ski towns around the United States. When fresh flakes fall, powder hounds dream of the morning’s first tracks. Last chairs bring locals and visitors together to rub elbows at favorite haunts and talk about the day’s epic runs over beers. So whether you swing by for a week, stay for the season, or escape for a lifetime, these seven towns are a sure bet for great skiing and good times.

1. Jackson, Wyoming

The Snake River flows past the jagged Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming, a pristine valley encircled by mountains. Once a haven for fur trappers and cattle ranchers, this coveted ski destination still exudes an Old West vibe in Town Square with its iconic antler arches, wood sidewalks, and historical buildings. Saddle up (literally) on the stools at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar or spend a night in the Wort Hotel. The Silver Dollar Showroom is the hot spot of this 1941 landmark, where on bluegrass Tuesdays, the popular local band One Ton Pig revs up the stage.

Just 12 miles down the road in Teton Village, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers over 4,000 vertical feet to be conquered. While the Mangy Moose is a go-to hangout at the mountain’s base, the real deal is down the road at Grand Teton National Park, where moose, bison, and other wildlife roam. Back by town, spot herds of elk at the national refuge or just kick back with an Apres IPA at Snake River Brewing.

2. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Working cattle ranches surround Steamboat Springs, a laid-back cowboy town featuring Howelsen Hill, Colorado’s oldest continuously running ski area. While the area has produced a long list of Olympians, you don’t have to be a gold medal-style skier to enjoy the "Champagne Powder" snow over at Steamboat Resort’s six peaks or the town’s vibrant community.

Check out Lincoln Avenue, the town’s main drag, to spot the Sleeping Giant—a.k.a Elk Mountain— and visit the old-fashioned soda fountain at Lyon’s Corner Drug. Before heading out for the day, fuel up with a breakfast sandwich at Paramount and then elevate your lunch at Hazies, an on-mountain restaurant with sweeping views of the Yampa Valley.

While Truffle Pig is a popular place for après, sore quads from too many steeps are best remedied by a four-wheel drive to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, where clothing is optional after dark.

Back in town, try the new Cloverdale Restaurant, where you can get a 5-course or full 10-14 course meal (made from fresh ingredients from a local farm) in a stylish, renovated old home. Afterwards, live music at Schmiggity’s will keep your legs loose on the dance floor.

3. Waitsfield, Vermont

Tucked away in Mad River Valley amid 18th-century homes, old barns, and covered bridges, Waitsfield epitomizes old-school Vermont. Smoke rises from the chimneys of quaint B&Bs that pepper the tiny town, along with restaurants that spotlight the vibrant local food scene.

Start down the road to Mad River Glen ski area and hop on the iconic single chairlift that’s been taking skiers on a lonely ride up the mountain since 1948. Also make time for Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, the two separate ski areas that make up Sugarbush Resort. At the base, regulars ski over to Chez Henri, a cozy Parisian institution still run by Henri Borel, the 90-something ski-enthusiast who you’ll often find making rounds in the restaurant.

Back towards Waitsfield, American Flatbread on Lareau Farm dishes up its famous wood-fired pizza with draft root beer. Get Vermont-brewed beers at the Localfolk Smokehouse, where dancing to live Grateful Dead tunes keeps the crowd warm on especially cold nights.

4. Park City, Utah

Location, location. The twinkling lights of Main Street in Park City, Utah, are just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport and offer access to multiple ski destinations of the Wasatch Range. This once-booming silver mining town and famed locale of the Sundance Film Festival sits at the base of Park City Mountain Resort, now the largest ski area in North America after being linked by gondola to the Canyons Resort in 2015.

While the white-gloved service and groomed corduroy trails of Deer Valley Resort are just a quick hop away, the historical area’s heydays are best lived out in the array of restaurants and bars that line the town. At the base of the town lift, whiskey aficionados can ski to High West Saloon and sample house-distilled spirits in an old livery stable and garage.

Over on Main Street, No Name Saloon & Grill is a prime spot for buffalo burgers and people watching. Later in the evening, the cozy music venue in the back of Spur is a more under-the-radar option to grab a beer.

5. Telluride, Colorado

Brave a landing on the plateaued runway at the Telluride Regional Airport for easy access to this idyllic, far-flung ski town—and the land of no lift lines at Telluride Ski Resort. The steep, majestic San Juans tower over this small valley cradled by a box canyon that’s headed up by frozen Bridal Veil Falls.

Originally a mining camp, Telluride shows off its roots with brightly painted Victorian-era homes and spots such as the historic New Sheridan hotel. After a day on the mountain, trade your ski poles for pool sticks in the hotel’s dark mahogany-paneled bar that’s been slinging drinks since 1895. Or take a more modern approach and check out There Bar, a quirky hub for unique small plates and memorable cocktails like the "Diablo."

On a ski bum budget? Brown Dog Pizza, known for their Detroit-style pies, is a favorite hangout. And no worries if you’re staying up in Mountain Village—you can commute home by gondola until midnight.

6. Stowe, Vermont

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A white steeple on Main Street pierces bluebird skies in Stowe, Vermont, a quintessential New England village complete with a historical general store. While this quaint town made the map in the mid-19th century as a summer resort hub, skiing soon took center stage at Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.

At Stowe Mountain Resort, Mount Mansfield is also connected by gondola to a second mountain, Spruce Peak. Check out the alpine-chic Stowe Mountain Lodge where soaring windows open up to expansive views. While vintage après bars like the Matterhorn still rule Stowe’s scene, the von Trapp Brewery and Bierhall is another option in Vermont’s own little Switzerland.

For dinner, head over to the quaint yet modern restaurant Plate, which serves California-inspired meals with Vermont flavors alongside craft cocktails like the "Not Hot Toddy."

7. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in Anchorage, Alaska

For the ski purist looking to bypass traditional ski towns and just focus on the powder, the remote Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in Alaska is the optimal answer. Founded and co-owned by Olympian ski racer Tommy Moe, this luxury heli-skiing lodge at the foot of the Alaska Range on the banks of the Talachulitna River and Judd Lake is reached by a 40-minute plane ride from Anchorage.

From its big cedar decks, take in dramatic views of two volcanos and Mount McKinley before diving into a thrilling week of heli-skiing adventures led by experienced guides. During your downtime, lounge in front of large stone fireplaces, soak in the copper hot tub, or explore the grounds on the groomed cross-country ski track. Drinks and gourmet meals of Alaskan seafood and regional game are served in a lakeside bar and dining room—with a 500-bottle wine cellar—and rustic-chic lodge rooms and private cabins are ideal retreats after action-packed days.

If this list of amazing ski towns isn’t enough to get you inspired for your next ski trip, check out this story about pro skier Jess McMillan’s life on the slopes.

Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.