While there’s something to be said for the convenience of flying directly into a major airport, taking a quick shuttle to a mega-resort, and hopping on the slopes — all in just a few hours total — sometimes it pays to go out of your way. Search just a bit more and you’ll find that there are still mountain towns all over the US that are quiet, devoid of long lift lines, and replete with fresh powder. If seclusion is what you’re after, take a look at some of these tucked-away spots that are ideal for a relaxed, high-elevation retreat.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
You probably have to be looking for this ridiculously scenic and well-hidden town in northeast New Hampshire. Once you’ve found Bretton Woods, though, you’ll be treated to incredibly scenic views, excellent dining, and a world-class ski resort that offers something for every level of skier or rider. For hikers, there are some excellent trails that wind around Mount Washington, providing even better vistas of the White Mountains. After a day on the slopes, there’s no better place to rest your legs than the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort. Trust us, you’ll feel like you’ve truly escaped it all.
You’ve probably heard of this one, but if you’ve never made the journey to southwest Colorado, you may not realize just how hidden away it is. The town of Telluride is tucked neatly into a box canyon formed out of the towering San Juan Mountains. You won’t find any major airports nearby, nor will you find as many people as you would in some of the more accessible towns in Colorado. You will, however, be treated to one of the best ski resorts in the nation. Telluride also has arguably the coolest downtown on this list, with boutiques, unique venues, and upscale dining populating the historic buildings that line Colorado Ave.
Located well south of the busyness of Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is a lot more out of the way than its more boisterous neighbor. The ski resort is by far the main draw when visiting town. Affectionately known as “the Wood,” Kirkwood is a true skier’s mountain, with the vast majority of its runs classified as advanced or expert (though there are a decent number of beginner and intermediate trails as well); so be sure your skis and legs are tuned up before you hop on the Cornice Express. Hotel options are scant (that’s the idea, right?), but there are plenty of condos available on Airbnb at a range of price points. For those who are more aquatically oriented, Caples Lake is a quieter, more isolated version of Tahoe that’s a quick 5-minute drive from the mountain.
Wilmington, New York
On the banks of the Ausable River, with one of the best ski mountains in New York just up the road, Wilmington is a picturesque enclave for those looking to get away from NYC for a while. Often overshadowed by Lake Placid a few miles away, Wilmington benefits from being a less-trodden locale — but that doesn’t mean there’s less to do. Of course, the town’s biggest draw is its proximity to Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, where over 80 runs, across three peaks, are waiting to reward skiers who’ve made that extra effort. The stunning mountaintop views and excellent skiing make the trek more than worth it.
Tip: Enjoy après drinks and a lobster roll at Rudy’s Scar Bar and Grille.
Montana is already known for its remoteness, but this town in the north of the state takes that solitude to the next level. Whitefish is an excellent jumping off point for adventures in Glacier National Park, or even just activities in the nearby state park. Obviously, skiers and riders will want to take advantage of Whitefish Mountain Resort, where over 100 runs are spread out across 3,000 acres of terrain. One of the biggest towns on this list, Whitefish offers up a lot in the way of shopping (check out the art galleries and antique stores downtown), dining (consider Whitefish Lake Restaurant for steak and seafood or Jersey Boys Pizzeria for fresh pies), and bars (hit up the lounge at Latitude 48 Bistro) without sacrificing that isolated, small-town feel. Stay at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake just outside of town and you’ll forget what a city looks like.
Snoqualmie Pass, Washington
A short drive from Seattle, but still secluded enough to feel hidden, Snoqualmie Pass is the perfect escape for those in the Pacific Northwest. The Summit at Snoqualmie is an underrated ski area with over 20 lifts, almost 2,000 skiable acres, and a very laid-back vibe. Lodges and Airbnbs abound in and around town, and there are some solid dining options at the base of the slopes. When you aren’t shredding, take advantage of the trails that wind through town and yield incredible views of the Cascade Mountains and nearby Keechelus Lake. Or check out the Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum for a look back at those who shredded before you.
Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Long considered one of the most difficult ski areas in the US, Taos has a reputation for being a tough, no-frills resort. Nestled deep in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies, Taos Ski Valley (not to be confused with the nearby village of the same name) is as hard to reach as it is to ski. Once you’ve finally made it, check in to the Blake Hotel, a new ski-in/ski-out lodge. After a morning of mogul skiing, be sure to buy a burger and nab a seat on the festive deck at the base; or visit the Bavarian on the other side of the mountain for some hearty German fare. And if you’re looking for a bit more when it comes to food, nightlife, and/or culture, the village of Taos is only thirty minutes away.
Note: You can now fly directly into Taos from a few major cities, so it might not be as hidden soon.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of quaint New England hideaway and trendy mountain town, Great Barrington is the perfect option. Stretched out along the Housatonic River in the Berkshires, this western Massachusetts gem rewards visitors who’ve made the extra effort with an over-abundance of charm. A classic Main Street runs through town, lined with great shops and restaurants. Nearby Butternut is a local favorite ski area that, while small, has something for everyone. And visitors have easy access to the gorgeous Fountain Pond State Park, where you can get even further off the beaten path. After a day at Butternut, you can’t go wrong with a stroll along the river walk, a visit to Agaves for some top-tier Mexican food, and then a Berkshire Blond at Barrington Brewery.
Let’s be honest: all of us could use an escape when the stresses of everyday life start to mount. And wouldn’t unplugging feel so much better in a quiet, under-the-radar town that you had to really work to get to? Look for one of the above mountain towns for your next trip (or find your own hidden getaway) — it’ll be well worth the drive.