Top 5 Small Ski Towns in the U.S.

Matt Scribner | | Industry NewsIndustry News
America has a plethora of amazing small towns scattered across its various mountain ranges. (Image: Mtn Scoops)

Although the United States is home to some of the greatest premier mountain towns in the world, there are also dozens of amazing small ski towns you can visit from everywhere from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the East Coast. These communities offer an authentic and less commercial vibe that has developed over generations of ski town history, offering a unique experience that large resort towns often fail to offer in the 21st century. Many of these towns should be high on any skier or snowboarder’s bucket list, and we have listed several of these amazing locations below.

Nederland is a beautiful and often forgotten mountain town located in Colorado. Image: Travel Lens)

5. Nederland, Colorado

With a history stooped in mining you can feel the second you enter town, Nederland feels like time has moved a little bit slower through its quaint streets. Located within roughly one hour of both Denver and Boulder, this picturesque lakeside town is home to Eldora Mountain Resort. The western feel of this town is incredibly infectious, with extremely aged, wooden architecture present everywhere you look. This town may have been started by a silver mining boom, but the amazing ski town vibes it offers will keep it around for quite some time going forward.

Nederland has a full-time population of 1,471 residents, giving it a much smaller feel than all of the other resort towns Colorado’s Rocky Mountains have to offer. Despite this, there is an amazing selection of restaurants, shops, and other community buildings scattered across town. Nederland is also one of the highest towns in the United States, situated at a towering elevation of 8,234 feet above sea level.

Bethel is located in the rugged Mahoosuc Range in beautiful Maine (Image: The Bethel Inn Resort)

4. Bethel, Maine 

Bethel profiles as an East Coast gem that is more than worth a visit for any skier or snowboarder. The town is home to Sunday River Ski Resort and has roots that date back all the way to the 17th century. With a population of 2,607 and picturesque covered bridges spread throughout the valley, this town has stood the test of time. With a booming food and beverage scene and unescapable New England charm, a trip to Bethel is sure to to exceed expectations.

Originally existing as an Abenaki Indian village, the town has been continuously settled since 1690. History like this can be felt as you meander through town, with stunning mountains surrounding the town to boot. Towns like Bethel are where many core ski town memories for families are built, with a vibe that is hard to replicate in newer, more commercialized mountain communities. With amazing scenic and recreational opportunities available year-round, you won’t be disappointed if you opt to spend a vacation in Bethel.

McCall, located on the western edge of Idaho, celebrates its annual winter carnival (Image: Local Freshies)

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3. McCall, Idaho

Situated on the shores of gorgeous Payette Lake in the state of Idaho, McCall is a mountain town that does not receive nearly enough credit. With a population of 3,844 residents, this small mountain village is home to some of the best snow and gorgeous views of any mountainous area in the country. McCall is home to Brundage Mountain Resort, a classic ski area that has been in operation since 1961 and sees an average of 320 base area inches of powder per year. Also located nearby is Tamarack Mountain Resort, a newer ski area that offers more than enough powder for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Just a short 2-hour drive away from Idaho’s capitol, Boise, McCall flys under the radar considering its infectious western vibes. With gorgeous shops and restaurants sprawling across its main thoroughfare, Lake Street, there is plenty of activities to enjoy following a long day on the slopes. The annual winter carnival, pictured above, has been celebrated since 1923, heavily contributing to its history as an amazing mountain town. With a storied past that features a gold mining boom, McCall is a criminally underrated mountain town.

North Conway is nestled into the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. (Image: White Mountains TV)

2. North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway is a beautiful east coast town that serves as the gateway to the White Mountains. Home to Attitash Mountain Resort, this quaint town is located roughly 25 miles away from the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, Mt. Washington. The town has a population of 2,116 residents, giving it a homey feel that will have you planning your next trip back before you even make it home.

The pace of North Conway is refreshingly slow, a feature of the town that keeps visitors coming back year after year. A gem among the many New England mountain towns that are scattered among Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, North Conway is worth a visit for east and West Coast skiers alike. Another popular attraction in the area is Echo Lake, a popular destination for leaf peepers in the fall. The infectious atmosphere and friendly locals put the cherry on top of this gorgeous mountain destination.

Crested Butte is situated deep in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado. (Image: Wikipedia)

1. Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte, a town that feels like it is straight out of an old western film, takes the crown on this list for good reason. Located deep in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains down a one-way-in, one-way-out highway, this mountain community first came about to support mining operations in the area. The town has a year-round population of 1,639, giving it a small feel to contrast the striking mountains that tower above it. With a gorgeous downtown ripe with dining and shopping opportunities, this destination has been referred to as “the last great Colorado ski town.”

Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the ski area that the town is home to, offers some of the best powder and terrain America has to offer. With almost unlimited recreational opportunities year-round and the most striking wildflower bloom anywhere in Colorado, this town is truly amazing. It is situated at 8,885 feet above sea level, ranking it among the highest in the country. This is a must-see destination for every skier and snowboarder.

Which town would you like to visit most? Communities such as these serve as the bedrock of the skiing community. You cannot go wrong picking any one of these towns to visit, as they all offer a completely different feel that has been developed over several centuries. Most of these towns also offer significantly cheaper lodging and amenities compared to ski towns that support mega resorts and are much larger. With over 500 ski resorts scattered across the country, one should never write off smaller towns such as these!

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8 thoughts on “Top 5 Small Ski Towns in the U.S.

  1. Um, Attitash (or Attitrash as we prefer to call it as Vail has ruined it like it does with most mountains it acquires) is not located in North Conway. It’s in Bartlett. Cranmore is located in North Conway and is one of the oldest and most historic ski resorts in the US.

  2. Author here, I apologize for the confusion on my part! I have edited the post to properly reflect this information. Have a great rest of your day.

  3. Matt, thanks for writing this article but I wonder how credible it is when you missed the main ski mountain in McCall. Even though many people like Tamarack, Brundage is the actual ski destination that people come to McCall for. Kind of odd to add McCall to a top 5 list and not mention Brundage.

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