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Beyond fresh snow and convenient access to the slopes, what makes the best ski town? For some, it’s having access to fantastic restaurants, bars and shops. For others, it’s about great accommodation options, a small-town vibe or a historic atmosphere. Our readers voted, and the results are in. These are the 10 best ski towns in North America for the 2022/2023 season.
Photo courtesy of Oliver Guy
No. 10: Ketchum, Idaho
Ketchum, Idaho is an outlet for world-famous skiing, but that’s not the only reason to visit. Visitors will be happy to find several off-mountain activities to fill their days and nights, including exploring the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, unwinding at Zenergy Health Club, soaking in the Easley Hot Springs, mountain biking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, meandering through art galleries and shopping in cute shops and boutiques.
Photo courtesy of Aspen Chamber
No. 9: Aspen, Colorado
It can be pricey. It can be hyped. But Aspen has long been one of the world’s great ski towns – and for good reason. The downtown area is dotted with stellar restaurants, galleries and boutiques, and après options include slope-side Ajax Tavern, iconic J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome and the excellent Aspen Brewing Company. With four ski areas within a 10-mile radius, Aspen is hard to beat.
Photo courtesy of Scott Raichilson // Getty Images
No. 8: Telluride, Colorado
Best known for its snowy slopes, Telluride offers classy boutiques, family-owned restaurants and noteworthy bars for après-ski drinks. “Telluride has an old-fashioned Western-chic vibe with fans and residents that run from young and hip to old, artsy and rich. And the gondola that connects the town to the ski area makes it really easy to get back and forth whether you stay in the mountain village at the top of the gondola or in town,” shares expert Laura Sutherland.
Photo courtesy of Visit Jackson Hole
No. 7: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big slopes meet the Wild West in Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s most popular winter resort. While the town’s Western heritage is still on display at places like the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole caters to luxury travelers as well with some of the country’s swankiest ski accommodations. Off the slopes, vistiors can take a scenic sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge.
Photo courtesy of Park City Chamber of Commerce
No. 6: Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah provided the host courses for many of the significant skiing events of the 2002 Winter Olympics. So, it’s no surprise that the city hosts the largest ski resort in the United States at Park City Mountain and another world-famous resort, Deer Valley, just a few miles away. Park City Mountain not only offers 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, with plenty of moguls, powder and trees, but also several terrain parks with steep jumps and other fixed features. Deer Valley provides over 2,000 skiable acres, with plenty of runs for all ages and abilities, from beginner to double black diamond.
Photo courtesy of Todd Bush
No. 5: Banner Elk, North Carolina
Banner Elk offers excellent mountain terrain ideal for skiing, and several local attractions and events that invite visitors into the community. Two different ski resorts are located within Banner Elk, both of which provide commendable lodging and add to the overall ski experience. Besides hitting the slopes, you can browse exhibits in the Beech Mountain History Museum, take a ride down the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, go wine tasting at the Banner Elk Winery, indulge in great food, try the Hawksnest Zipline or go snow tubing at one of four popular spots.
No. 4: Stowe, Vermont
Steepled churches and clapboard houses make Stowe a quintessential New England ski town, complete with excellent options for both downhill and Nordic skiers. While there are plenty of fine dining establishments and luxury resorts catering to well-heeled travelers, there’s a lively après scene as well, especially at The Matterhorn. Rest day activities can include a tasting at the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory just down the road in Waterbury.
Photo courtesy of WiseguyCreative.com
No. 3: North Conway, New Hampshire
Nestled within the scenic White Mountains of New Hampshire, North Conway sits within a half-hour drive of more than a dozen Alpine and Nordic ski resorts. Off the slopes, visitors can explore the town’s pastel-hued Victorian architecture exuding New England charm. The Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center makes for an excellent rest-day diversion.
Photo courtesy of Noel Hendrickson / Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
No. 2: Banff, Alberta
Walk 15 minutes in just about any direction from the town of Banff, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the majestic wilderness of Banff National Park. The resort town and gateway to the surrounding park boasts a surprising number of shops, art galleries, bars and excellent restaurants for its size.
Photo courtesy of Mammoth Mountain
No. 1: Mammoth Lakes, California
A long ski season makes Mammoth Lakes especially appealing to skiers of all levels, in addition to those interested in backcountry skiing. Mammoth Lakes also offers plenty of options for off-mountain entertainment, whether you’re looking to indulge in theater and the arts, shopping local or planning a spa day. “Friendly and sporty, Mammoth is the center of snow sports in winter and all kinds of outdoor activities in summer,” expert Laura Sutherland tells us.