The snow has finally melted, warm weather is here and the mountains are (still) calling.
With miles of hiking trails, enchanting wildlife and unbelievable landscapes there is always something new to discover in these 5 mountain towns.
1. Gatlinburg, TN
If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg you’ve got no idea what you’re missing. This east-coast mountain town is nestled right in the middle of the Smokies, and is known as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
And let’s not forget it is home to the ONLY ski resort in Tennessee – Ober Gatlinburg. This stand-alone ski resort is also open in the summer months to offer gondola rides with views of the vast and beautiful Smoky Mountains, and even features a wildlife encounter area.
In addition to all of that there are also plenty of tourist attractions to check out like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and The Hollywood Star Cars Museum. The Hollywood Star Cars Museum opened in 1996 and is located right in the heart of town and houses The Beverly Hillbillies jalopy, Batman’s Batmobile, the DRAG-U-LA FROM The Munsters and many, many more.
You’ll also find an abundance of family-oriented activities and top-notch restaurants and bars to visit while you make your way around this fun but quaint little mountain town.
2. Jackson, WY
Trust us when we say Jackson is just as awesome in the summer months, as it is when you’re ripping down black diamonds at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This nature-obsessed village is located right outside Grand Teton National Park, offering vast views of photogenic peaks just 5 miles north of Jackson.
If you’re seeking some vertical adventure (without snow) there are plenty of guides willing to take you to the top of the Tetons, like Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Or if you’d prefer rolling through the hills, Jackson Hole has been known for the past decade as a world-class location for mountain biking and features tons of biking trails and bike shops.
Don’t worry, if you’d rather spend some time in the water – Jackson provides everything from whitewater rafting, to paddle boarding, scenic float trips and canoeing. And with the Snake River and its tributaries right in their wheelhouse, Jackson offers some of the best fly fishing in the country – anglers often say there are more trout than there are flies to catch them with.
3. Taos, NM
Taos has way more than just skiing. In fact, Taos is bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and located right in the heart of northern New Mexico’s high desert. And let me tell you, there are tons of cool things to do in this desert mountain town, even when the weather starts to warm up.
Known for its historic buildings such as Taos Pueblo and the Kit Carson Home and Museum, there is plenty to learn about these lands. Taos Pueblo is a multistory adobe complex that has been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. In fact, 150 still live within the Pueblo full time and there are over 1900 Taos Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands. The Taos Indians are more than welcoming to visitors who would like to come and get to know about their history.
The Kit Carson Home and Museum is located right in the middle of Taos and is just a short walk from Taos Plaza. The Kit Carson Home and Museum was originally built in 1825 and bought by Carson as a wedding gift for his third wife.
4. Asheville, NC
One of my all-time favorite places, Asheville is located in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and sits just outside of Pisgah National Forest.
With over 500,000+ acres, Pisgah National Forest offers the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery and covers most of the north and central mountains of North Carolina. Pisgah National Forest has something for everyone to enjoy, from whitewater rafting to waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails to explore.
Asheville is more than just mountains though, the city itself is known for its vibrant arts scene. The Downtown Art District is packed with galleries and museums, and the River Arts District is lined with former factory buildings that have been converted into artists’ studios.
And if that isn’t enough to entice you Asheville is also home to over a dozen craft breweries for you to sit down and test your palate. A couple of my favorites to visit are Hi-Wire Brewing Company, Wicked Weed (who also has a killer menu) and One World Brewing. If you have the time I suggest making a stop at all three!
5. North Conway, NH
Last, but not least – and probably our most unexpected mountain town on this list is North Conway, NH. Located just east of White Mountain National Forest, North Conway is within 30 minutes of 13 ski resorts and miles and miles of trails for hiking. White Mountain National Forest offers over 700,000 acres and the tallest peak in the north east Mt. Washington, making it a great destination no matter the season.
While visiting North Conway make sure to stop in at the Settlers Green Outlet Village where you can find local handcrafted goodies and antique style gift shops. There is also plenty to do in town like go see a play at one of the areas playhouses or hop on a scenic train ride and take in the views the north east has to offer.
The Town Center is also a popular tourist destination in North Conway and has its own white-steeple church, a turreted train station from the 1870’s and a historic New England general store that is said to have the best fudge in town.
There you have it guys, 5 Unexpected Mountain Towns that are a little off the beaten path, but nonetheless awesome destinations for both summer and winter fun.
Comment below with your favorite unexpected mountain town, and let us know if there is somewhere that we left off the list. And as always, don’t forget to subscribe to the SKIS.com blog for the latest and greatest ski news.