Top 5 Ski Towns in North America:

Jake Rubnitz | BackcountryBackcountry
Bend, Oregon and Mt. Bachelor lead off our list (photo: Big Life Magazine)

What makes a great ski town?

For us its a combination of the skiing, nightlife, and extra recreation. Towns that offer not only great mountains but also endless fun. We put together a list of mountain towns that we think offer the best of everything.

North America is lucky enough to be loaded with tons of great mountain towns each with their own unique culture. Although each town is different, they all share a certain vibe that separates them from any other type of town, here are some towns that we feel capture that.

Top 5 Ski Towns in North America:


Bend, OR

Mt. Bachelor, OR. image: Mt. bachelor

Bend has better beer and skiing than your ski town, the locals are too nice to say it, but it’s true.

The town of 91,000 has 26 breweries, giving it the highest brewery per capita of any city in the nation. It truly is “Beer City, U.S.A.” If drinking isn’t your thing, don’t worry – Mt. Bachelor is a true gem. The 9,068′ Volcano got 604″ of snow last season and averages 460″+ a year.

The mountain boasts an impressive 4,318 acres of skiable terrain and 3,365′ of vertical drop. As the 6th largest ski resort in North America, Mt. Bachelor has plenty of elbow room and is known for minimal lift lines compared to other popular ski towns. If it’s not a holiday weekend, you might even feel a little lonely out there.

On the off chance that you do feel cramped at Mt. Bachelor you can always slip away for a classic descent of the Cinder Cone, or “The Cone” as most locals call it. This unique piece of sidecountry is directly attached to Mount Bachelor and offers 700 feet of vertical at a 40-degree angle. For more hardcore backcountry skiers, Bend offers a range of more intense touring options.

When the day is done, wash it away with a beer at the world-renowned Deschutes Brewery, go get rowdy on the Mechanical bull at Maverick’s in North Bend, or go for a bar crawl through downtown Bend. If you can’t make it out in the winter, world-class mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, hiking, and climbing might make Bend almost as good in the summer.

Breckenridge, CO

(Photo: Adventure Photo)

A classic ski town located just over an hour outside Denver. With easy access to Breckenridge, Vail, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain as well as some great backcountry in the Dillon area as well as along the whole I-70 corridor there is no lack of skiing. When the skiing is done, establishments like Motherloaded, Eriks, and Cecilia’s give Breck one of the best night lives of any mountain town. If the snows not great, venture out and try something new like snow kiting on nearby Dillon reservoir. With great mountain biking and rafting in the summer, Breck is a year-round attraction.

Jackson, WY

Jackson from Snow King Resort (Photo: David Stubbs)

Only an hour away from Jackson Hole Mountian, this Cowboy town is surrounded by some of the best skiing, fishing, and hiking in the Country. Best known for the world famous Million Dollar Cowboy bar, Jackson has no shortage of great western themed Bars. Fittingly, Jackson is home to some incredible horseback riding and dude ranches so you can embrace your inner cowboy. Additionally, you are just a short drive from Yellowstone park; and there is plenty of open space for other attractions like snowmobiling.

Fernie, BC

Fernie B.C. (Photo: Tourism Fernie)

A hidden gem of the Canadian Rockies, Fernie is nestled among some of the most impressive Mountains in the world. Whether you’re there for the Backcountry Skiing or for Fernie Alpine Resort, you’re in for a treat. Fernie is also home to two cat skiing operations, so getting to the goods is never a problem. Don’t forget, it’s in Canada, the ice hockey capital of the world. Go check out their full-sized outdoor NHL rink and go for a skate or watch the local juniors team, the Ghostriders, compete. With a buzzing small town and killer mountains, Fernie won’t disappoint

Truckee, CA

Downtown Truckee (Photo: Scott Thompson, Scott Shots Photography

Truckee is only 20 minutes away from Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and has easy access to great backcountry spots like Donner Peak. It’s not the biggest town on this list, but Truckee makes up for it with its classic feel. When the skiing’s not great and Truckee just isn’t doing it for you, Casino’s of the Nevada side of the lake is about 45 minutes away and Reno is just over an hour by car. Truckee looks to continue to grow with construction on the Truckee Railyard downtown extension being underway since August.


How do you judge a ski town? What would you add to the list?

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 Ski Towns in North America:

  1. government camp Mt. hood Oregon services 3 resorts mt.hood ski bowl , timberline lodge and mt. hood meadows

  2. You must be the guy who holds everyone up if it takes you an hour to get from “Jackson Hole Mountian” (your spelling) to Jackson (or 30 min from Squaw or Alpine to Truckee, without traffic). Both are more like 20 minutes.

  3. ….& Mammoth Lakes, home to Mammoth Mountain, 4,500 skiable acres on 3,100 ft vertical, skiing up to 11,053 feet, longest ski season on natural snow {at least 7 months} for the past 35 or so years. Skiing & boarding in the California sunshine, riding on the more than 25 uphill lifts, that carry over 60,000 skiers/riders an hour….as close as you can get to snowsports nirvana!!!!

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