Hit the Slopes at the Best Ski Towns in the United States

best ski towns

While Thanksgiving Day festivities are looming, there is more than turkey and Black Friday shopping on the minds of snow sports enthusiasts. Many resorts will open their doors (or lifts, in this case) over the next week, officially kicking off the 2017-18 ski and snowboard season.

Aside from the physical exhilaration from traveling at high rates of speed downhill, most powder hounds are also seeking an authentic ski town experience. Our list of the eight best ski towns offer it all — including historic mines, high altitude distilleries and breweries, art galleries, and zip-lines — for the discerning amateur to the après aficionado.

Taos, New Mexico

taos new mexico

Photo by Eunika Sopotnicka

Skiable Area: 1,294 acres
Vertical Drop: 3,281 feet
Annual Snowfall: 300 inches

This high-desert town is surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and borders the Taos Pueblo, which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. This town is rich in history and culture dating back over a thousand years. At the turn of the 20th century, the art colony scene began to flourish and is still prevalent today with numerous museums and galleries throughout the town.

Breckenridge, Colorado

breckenridge colorado

Skiable Area: 2,908 acres
Vertical Drop: 3,398 feet
Annual Snowfall: 175 inches

Settled during the 1859 Gold Rush, the historic district in Breckenridge is Colorado’s largest with 249 structures. The once bustling mining camp is now a showcase of Victorian architecture and provides a basecamp for both summer and winter adventures. In the town’s seven-block Main Street, there are over 200 stores and restaurants.

Crested Butte, Colorado

crested butte colorado

Skiable Area: 1,547 acres
Vertical Drop: 3,062 feet
Annual Snowfall: 300 inches

This former coal and silver mining town sprung up in the mid-1800’s and survived even after the mining operations dwindled. However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the town sprung back to life as a fledgling ski area. Today, the resort overlooks the town that is a short shuttle ride away. Visitors can explore the town and walk the streets of a bygone era.

Telluride, Colorado

telluride colorado

Photo by Visions Of America LLC

Skiable Area: 2,000-plus acres
Vertical Drop: 4,425 feet
Annual Snowfall: 310 inches

This former Victorian mining town, which dates back to 1878, sits in a box canyon and is surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks. The town is just eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long and is connected to the Mountain Village by a scenic gondola. After a day of powder runs, visitors can take the 13-minute gondola ride and explore the high mountain paradise.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe Vermont

Skiable Area: 485 acres
Vertical Drop: 2,160 feet
Annual Snowfall: 300 inches

Chartered in 1763, Stowe is one of the oldest towns in our roundup. This quaint colonial town sits amid the Green Mountains and Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Billing itself as the Ski Capital of the East, visitors can peruse the more than 10,000 items at the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum located in this New England hamlet.

Jackson, Wyoming

teton village jackson hole wyoming

Skiable Area: 2,500 acres
Vertical Drop: 4,139 feet
Annual Snowfall: 459 inches

Although long utilized by early trappers in the region, Jackson wouldn’t be named until 1894. Considered the gateway to both Yellowstone and Grant Teton National Parks, the town is sometimes referred to as Jackson Hole, though that is the name of the valley and not the city. The first ski rope as created in 1937. The region is home to three resorts and guest to the area can experience some of the best the West the offer.

Park City, Utah

Skiable Area: 7,300 acres
Vertical Drop: 3,100 feet
Annual Snowfall: 355 inches

This 19th-century mining town plays host to over a million visitors annually between the world class skiing and the Sundance Film Festival. Founded in 1869, the town also hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Snowshoe, West Virginia

Skiable Area: 244 acres
Vertical Drop: 1,500 feet
Annual Snowfall: 180 inches

While there is no town per se, there is the ski village that offers base lodging, restaurants, shopping, and a zip-line right over the village. Snowshoe is located at the top of the mountain, and skiers and snowboarders travel down the mountain to the first lift. Visitors can visit nearby Cass for a train ride. The space was  recently purchased by Aspen Skiing Company, and we’re excited about the potential this may bring to the existing resort.