Are things feeling a bit flat lately? Dreaming of a change of scene? These 10 great American mountain towns, with their picturesque rolling hills and incredible peaks, offer stunning photo opportunities and exhilarating experiences.
You’ll want to plan your mountain adventure straight away.
1. Aspen, Colorado
A gorgeous and well-known city on this list. Aspen is a stunning area if you’re looking for skiing. With plenty of hiking trails to stretch your legs and take in the scenery, and opportunities to explore the history of the area, Aspen is an oasis for those looking for a change of scenery.
Key Stops: If skiing isn’t your jam, there are plenty of other wintery activities to choose from, including snowshoeing and snowmobile tours. Take a ride on the Silver Queen Gondola to get a birds-eye view of the city. If you’re interested in learning some of the more macabre stories of the area, you’ll want to look into Aspen’s Dark-Side Ghost Tours.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: If you’re going to Aspen, venture out to Crater Lake. This takes some hiking though, so make sure to lace up your boots. Once you reach the peak, you’ll be able to get some of the most amazing views of the Rocky Mountains in the area.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
Blue Ridge Mountains
Located in Western North Carolina, Asheville is a quiet and quirky city with vast opportunities for adventure and exploration. Filled with museums and galleries, Asheville is excellent for learning the history of Appalachian crafts like Blue Spiral 1 or Center for Craft. If you’re looking to unwind, take a trip to one of their many breweries- or even take an e-bike brewery tour.
Key Stops: Just outside of Downtown Asheville, you’ll want to make the trip out to Biltmore, the largest single-family home in the United States. Walk around the gardens, do a wine tasting, or take a tour of the home for some breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re wanting to get out of town and into the mountains, make sure to spend some time in Pisgah National Forest and take a dip in Looking Glass Falls, or take a ride down Sliding Rock.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: Make sure to get a photo of Biltmore on your way in or out, to take a small piece of the French-Renaissance architecture with you. But if you’re looking for something a little bold, you’ll want to head to Chicken Alley in downtown Asheville. Don’t ask, just thank us later.
3. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains
Notably referenced in “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, Gatlinburg is bursting at the seams with fun. Nestled in the midst of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee has hiking trails, sky bridges, and plenty of family fun waiting to be discovered.
Key Stops: Head to Anakeesta to get an overhead view of the mountains and city. If you’re feeling brave you’ll want to take a walk across the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge. If you need something a little calmer, you can always head to Ripley’s Aquarium or one of the town’s many mini-golf courses. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Gatlinburg without a stop-in at Dollywood.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: If you’re an avid hiker, head for the view at the peak of Chimney Tops. It’s an intense hike that is best suited for a cool spring morning, but entirely worth it for the gorgeous view of the mountains. If that isn’t your thing, you’ll want to head over to the Island and ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel to watch the sunset over the mountains.
4. Bar Harbor, Maine
Acadia National Park
Located in Mount Desert, Bar Harbor is known as a gateway to Acadia National Park. And if there’s something Maine is known well for, it’s the state’s-delicious seafood – there’s plenty of that find from in Bar Harbor.
Key Stops: Acadia National park is a great option if you’re looking to take in the mountains. But because of Bar Harbor’s unique location, the ocean is not far from the park, so take advantage of that. Take a ride on Olli’s Trolley to get a tour of Downtown Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park, if hiking isn’t your favorite activity.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: Take the time to visit Bass Harbor Head Light, leave early though, because there are only 27 parking spots. Between the months of May and October Bar Harbor Whale Watch offers tours as a part of Whale SENSE, a volunteer group educating others on responsible whale watching.
5, Mammoth Lakes, California
Excellent for lovers of snow and sun, Mammoth Lakes has a little something to offer everyone when looking for a mountain-side vacation. With chilly mornings and warm afternoons, you’ll be able to take on the slopes and hike to see gorgeous running waterfalls all in one day. Mammoth Lakes is an excellent location if you’re interested in doing it all on your vacation.
Key Stops: If you’re looking for some great hiking in the area, you’ll want to add Devil’s Postpile National Monument, where you can take in the gorgeous 101-foot Rainbow Falls. Take a ride in the Mammoth Mountain Gondola, or take a boat out on Convict Lake. With delicious eateries and breweries, you’re in for an excellent vacation. As a part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the peaks surrounding Mammoth Lakes are some of the most tectonically active mountain ranges in the United States.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: If you have children, you’ll want to take them to see the life-sized creation of the wooly mammoth. If that’s not your style, you can always take a hike in Inyo National Forest to the Hot Creek Geological Site for the opportunity to see a Geyser eruption.
6. Park City, Utah
Craggy Wasatch Range
Park City is just east of Salt Lake City and is known for its skiing and connections to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The town has a deep connection to the silver mining industry of the western United States, and an immersive mix of old and new architecture.
Key Stops: If you’re interested in getting outside during the winter, take a dog sledding trip with a team of well-trained huskies. If that isn’t your thing, try a fat tire bike ride on the snow. If you’re going outside of the snowy season make sure to check out their water sports like river rafting or tubing.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: If you’re a lover of gorgeous aerial shots, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to go out on a hot air balloon. Whether in snow or spring, the photos are guaranteed to take your breath away. Of course, there are plenty of gorgeous hiking locations in the state parks available to get a shot of the mountains.
7. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth, Washington feels like something out of a storybook. With its Alpine-style architecture and its Nutcracker Museum, this is not a destination for your ordinary vacation. With rich indigenous and mining histories, Leavenworth is an excellent location for those eager to learn on their trips.
Key Stops: The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is as unique as it sounds. With a giant mouse king mascot and Nutcracker Hunts for all ages, you’re bound to learn the history and workmanship about the traditional and well-crafted tool….. Or, if you’re looking to take in some of the local delicacies, stop in at one of their many distilleries or wineries to try locally-produced liquor. During the summer, catch a production at the Leavenworth Summer Theater for a great show and amazing views of the mountains.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: Walking downtown will be a photo opp in itself, so make sure to keep that camera handy. During the summer on Saturdays, get a selfie at thee Leavenworth Alphorns Gazebo while you listen to the sounds of the Alps.
8. Jackson, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park
Home to three main ski areas, Jackson is an excellent destination for those who love winter sports. With access to Yellowstone and vast outdoor activities for you to take part in, there’s a ton of outdoor activities to do in Jackson.
Key Stops: If you’re an animal lover, the Grand Teton and National Elk Refuge is an excellent full-day adventure to learn about the local wildlife. You’ll get to see elk, bison, big-horn sheep, eagles, and much more. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, the Jackson Hole Rodeo takes place on select nights from May until September, rain or shine.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: For jaw-dropping views of the mountains, head to Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and catch a Ranger-led talk to learn more about the history of the area. After a nice hike through Preserve, you’ll want to head into town to see the Elk Antler Arches at each corner of the town center. If you’re there near the holidays, you’ll get to see them decorated for Christmas.
9. Lake Placid, New York
Another Winter Olympics Destination, Lake Placid is an excellent getaway to alpine life, no matter the weather. Enjoy the smell of sweet mountain air and explore the lakes and waterfalls surrounding the town.
Key Stops: Ski well into the spring in the Adirondack Mountains, or pick up a paddle and get out onto the water. If you’re more interested in a relaxed day, take a trip downtown to shop and dine next to the outdoor fireplace. Pop into the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to learn about and see the second-largest collection of Winter Olympic artifacts in North America.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: With over 110 waterfalls to choose from and a few that you can swim in, make some time to trek out to the water to take in the rushing rapids. If you prefer to view the beautiful outdoors from the comfort of your own vehicle, take a drive through Cascade Pass to take in the amazing mountain peaks.
10. Bend Oregon
Located on the Deschutes River, Bend will excite the mind as you follow the many hiking trails that lead to Pilot Butte, an extinct volcano.
Key Stops: If you love to live like a local on vacation, you’ll want to add the Bend Ale Trail to try out the many different breweries in the area. Adrenaline seekers can head out for a white water rafting trip or the area’s great rock climbing, while those looking for calmer waters, can find some stand-up paddleboarding or fly fishing. Heading to Bend in the off-season will allow you to see the town when there’s a lot less traffic.
Must-Stop Photo Opp: A trip to Oregon isn’t complete without any excursions into the Three Sisters Wilderness. Of course, you have to get a photograph in front of the extinct Pilot Butte volcano. If you’re an art lover the Roundabout Art Route is great for you. With over 20 art pieces and sculptures to be found outside in Bend, you’ll want to try and find them all before it’s time to pack up and go home.
Looking for more adventure? Plan your great American road trip!