8 US Mountain Towns You Should Visit This Summer
Mountain towns are synonymous with ski resorts and winter sports; however, summer brings out a whole new side. In warmer months, ski trails and snow-capped mountains transform into stunning hikes with breathtaking panoramas. Frozen lakes turn into swimming holes, and towns come alive with festivals and events. Mountain towns are not just for ski bums - check out our picks for the 8 best U.S. towns to visit in summer.
1) Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Built for hard-core skiers and boarders, it would be a big mistake to discount Jackson Hole as a summer destination. The valley, nestled between the Teton Mountains and the Gros Ventre Range, offers a plethora of summer activities. Hike the trails in Teton National Park (or take the Aerial Tram to the peak), camp in Granite Creek campground and splash in the hot springs, take a chilly glacier-dip in Phelps Lake, visit the largest elk herd on earth, and watch the sun set over the Snake River. The town is adorable too - check out the farmers market and boutique shops for a fun afternoon.
2) Stowe, Vermont
New Englanders are known for their ability to survive harsh winters. The fun doesn’t stop in summer, and that’s what Stowe is all about. This town is for foodies who also love a bit of outdoor adventure. Stowe Recreation Path offers an easy scenic walk, and at Stowe Mountain Resort you can rock climb, zipline, or take an aerial ropes course. It’s back to nature with a hike to the remote Moss Glen Falls where you can picnic in the cool shade. Downtown Stowe restaurants are known for their farm-to-table movement, offering visitors lots of exquisite local dishes. Speaking of food, don’t forget the Ben & Jerry’s Factory!
3) Park City, Utah
The super-accessible Park City is good for families who want a mixed vacation of culture, food, and plenty of scenic outdoor fun. Kids will have a field day on the miniature golf courses, bungee trampolines, and Alpine Coaster. Don’t pass up the Utah Olympic Park for thrilling zipline tours and a genuine bobsled experience. Parents will love the city’s charming Historic District, Park City Museum and the plentiful opportunities for spa visits. The whole family can enjoy horseback riding tours through Red Pine Canyon and hikes through the Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway.
4) Aspen, Colorado
Maybe this is an obvious one, but we couldn’t leave Aspen off the list. In the heart of the famous Rockies, this town is a lot more than a world-famous skiing destination; it’s the cultural hub of mountain towns. Festivals never stop in summer. The Aspen Music Festival, Wanderlust Festival, and Food & Wine Classic are chart-toppers. The art scene is unmatched. Especially impressive are the workshops at Anderson Ranch and performances at the 19th century Wheeler Opera House. Then there’s the base activities like hiking, kayaking, fly-fishing and river rafting at Snowmass and the scenic drive along Independence Pass.
5) Lake Placid, New York
Plopped in the Adirondack Mountains, the town of Lake Placid is famous for hosting several Winter Olympics. However, this picturesque town is just as lovely in summer. Lake Placid’s got it all; towering mountains, tranquil lakes, miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, gorges, and valleys. Mirror Lake dominates the canoe and kayaking scene while hiking in Whiteface and Cascade Mountains reigns supreme. And for adrenaline junkies, rafting down the Ausable Chasm is downright thrilling. Summer is also the season for many events like horse shows, the Ironman competition, and Barbeque Festival.
6) Lake Tahoe, California
On the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is a serene escape in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Mountain biking and hiking trails crisscross the area with visitors’ favorites including the trail around Squaw Valley and Heavenly Resort. Rock climbing is a popular day activity and the organized SUP tours are a cool way to explore to waters. Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Parks boasts the best views and photo opportunities, with the latter housing an iconic, precariously balanced granite rock. All that being said, nothing compares to the views seen from a Lake Tahoe Balloon rides.
7) Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Remote and unspoiled, Bretton Woods is a top-rated place for relaxing in a gorgeous natural setting. There are many hiking trails running through the White Mountains and streams and rivers in which to swim. River floats and tubing are extremely fun activities the whole family can enjoy together, but the best way to enjoy the scenery is with the longest zipline canopy tour in New England! Another must-do is summiting the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington, on an old-fashioned steam train made in 1869.
8) Taos, New Mexico
New Mexico is a mix of the true Wild West, Native American culture and the most scenic mountainous desert landscape in the country. Taos is a perfect balance of all three. The striking, red rock mountains, aptly named Sangre (Spanish for blood) de Cristo, create a ridiculously gorgeous contrast against the vivid blue sky. These, along with Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the state, boats excellent hiking and trail-running opportunities. And nothing beats the sunrise at Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.
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