Painted by the pictures of Hot Dog, Out Cold, Aspen Extreme, and many more, the ski town vibe has been sought after by many and lived by less, that is until of late. More and more folks are heading to the mountains these days not so much for the vibes, but with the freedom of working from wherever there is WiFi and a view. Ski towns’ populations have erupted with the arrival of the “new workforce” and many of the favored mountain towns have lost their luster. And much like the continued search for pow, there are still a handful of ski towns flying under the radar… for the time being.
A few hrs outside of Denver, nestled at the Collegiate Range base, lies the town of Salida and its untamed backyard playground. 30 minutes from Monarch Mountain, one of Colorado’s oldest ski areas, Salida offers easy access to mom and pop skiing and close proximity to the bigger slopes of Crested Butte. The town itself sits roughly 5,000 ft below the Continental Dived with a population just shy of 6,000 residents of outdoor enthusiasts. Salida offers everything you’d expect from a mountain town, and when it snows, the heaps of powder at Monarch Mountain is hard to beat.
Tucked away in the Teton Valley, the 2,000 some residents of Driggs, ID are all about the bare necessities with two of America’s greatest ski areas right out the back door. Grand Targhee (20 minutes) and over the ridge to Jackson Hole (within 60 minutes) offer up some of the best skiing in the West while the town of Driggs remains small and rooted in simplicity. No matter the season, expect the adventure to be at the heart of Driggs’ residents and for the passersby, it’s a taste of the good life with oh so much pow nearby.
SANTA FE, NM
Certainly, not the first town to be associated with the ski lifestyle, Santa Fe is quickly rising as a four-season, cultured city in the Southwest. Just 30 minutes from Ski Santa Fe, the local slopes sit above 10,000 ft, offering pow turns when it’s golf season down within city limits. And if you’re looking for a little more terrain and the steeps, Taos is a quick 2 hrs away. Santa Fe may be the first of its kind and designated as a cultural arts ski town, and even if the snow is no good, the Southwest’s tasty eats drowned in green chile will most definitely fill the void.
Small town vibes with a big lake and mountain ridges as the backdrop are just the tip of the iceberg to McCall, ID’s sweet, sweet livin’. The small town sits on the edge of Payette Lake and the adjoining National Forest, and come winter it’s a mere 30 minutes from world-class skiing at the local Tamarack Ski Resort. The population has risen to a little over 3,000 in the last few years keeping McCall an adventurer’s destination with skiing, bc snowmobiling, mountain biking, and various lake activities at the forefront of the town’s playground. The potatoes are pretty good too.
It doesn’t get much better than the fact the town of Whitefish, Montucky, lies on the border of Glacier National Park and has the 3,000-acre Whitefish Mountain Resort right out the back door. The town and resort hide under the limelight of Bozeman and Big Sky but don’t be fooled because Whitefish has just the right amount of breweries and distilleries to help rejuvenate your soul after an epic day on the slopes. While the town of Whitefish remains small, the adjacent lake and staggering size of the outdoors only elevates the stoke of the somewhat rural high fives.
Growing from an old mining town, Rossland and its RED Mountain Resort brings together the best of the distant redneck mentality with ski town vibes. The town is small and the residents are more than thrilled to call Rossland home, and adding to the allure is the surrounding Kootenay Mountain Range… deep in the interior of British Columbia. It sits off the beaten path, which deters overcrowding in town and up on RED, but make no mistake that this little Canadian town is a mecca for outdoor adventure and pow turns that rival the best of the best.