This has been the year for everyone to remember why the Great Outdoors is so… great. People are out walking, biking, hiking, and camping more than they have in a long time. For many, this has them thinking: how great would it be to live among the mountains and have easy access to trails all the time?
If you are itching to move and considering an elevation change, check out the best mountain towns in the U.S. for a starting point. Though be careful, you might just find yourself buying your plane tickets and booking your long–distance move today!
1. Homer, Alaska
If you’re going to go mountain town, why not go really rugged? Alaska is known for having endless expanses of true wildlands. Jagged peaks, wild coastlines, and rivers that make any angler’s heart go pitter-patter will keep your cravings for adventure well satiated. Homer’s location on the Kachemak Peninsula means its an easy trip to Chugach National Forest, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Kachemak Bay State Park for endless adventure. The Peninsula itself offers ample opportunity for fishing and kayaking. The economy in Homer is largely focused around tourism, though entrepreneurs and artists certainly make up a big part of the community. Alaska isn’t for the faint of heart, but for the adventurous spirit, it might just be heaven.
2. Bend, Oregon
The Deschutes National Forest has just about everything you could want to explore. Go mountain biking in the rugged badlands, hang out by a mountain lake, or take a trip to the epic Mt. Bachelor for some serious alpine climbing. There are waterfalls, volcanoes, and caves. And of course, there is beer. Bend was put on the map, so to speak, by Deschutes Brewing Company. Moving to this mountain town, you can expect plenty of good brews and delicious eats. Bend remains a fusion of old mill town and modern city and can be a great jumping-off point for other nearby peaks and outings.
3. Warren & Waitsfield, Vermont
The type of mountain living you’ll find in Vermont is quite special. Nestled in the Mad River Valley, Warren, and Waitsfield and like sister towns dedicated to laid-back mountain life. After all, not everyone wants to be up at 6am every Saturday to hit the trails! Bring your road bike when you move to Vermont. This might be one of the best mountain towns in the U.S. for long stretches of road rolling past the Mad River and through gorgeous farmlands in the Valley. Bring your tastebuds, too: the restaurants in the area pride themselves on sourcing produce locally as much as possible. Even the Mad Taco smokes its own meat and sources the vegetables locally.
4. Taos, New Mexico
New Mexico may not immediately come to mind as a place for mountain towns, but the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower 6,000 feet over Taos on three sides. Mt. Wheeler is the tallest mountain in New Mexico at a stunning 13,161 and is a beloved spot for trail running or hiking. The Rio Grande Gorge is calling if you love whitewater. The Taos stretch of the river is a narrow one, full of wildlife and adventure for those ready to go big with Class III and IV rapids.
Taos certainly has its draw for the tourists, but the community maintains a quirky and welcoming feel. Check out the Earthships on the mesa just outside of town, which was the focus of the documentary Garbage Warrior. The Taos Art Colony is also alive and well, founded in 1898 by two artists whose wagon broke down on their way through. There is certainly no lack of culture in Taos, which is a mix of modern arts and stunning history!
5. Truckee, California
Any list of mountain towns would be incomplete without mentioning the Lake Tahoe region. Though Tahoe City has a reputation of being reserved for the rich and famous, Truckee is a gem just 10 miles away on the northern end of the lake without the same hype or crowds. You’ll find the heart and soul of the mountains with endless views of the lake, easy access to world-class skiing, and a backyard that would make any adventure junkie jealous. Truckee is certainly still a town with seasonal rhythms, though most of the best mountain towns in the U.S. have their fair share of recreation tourism. Truckee is home to some fantastic microbreweries (of course), and a strong community of artisans and creatives. Everyone needs an indoor hobby too, right?
Pack up your gear, put the bikes on the rack, and get a moving quote! It’s time to live the adventurous lifestyle you really want.