15 Most Underrated Mountain Towns in America

Escape the crowds and explore America's best-kept mountain town secrets.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Living in the city is fine, but sometimes you just want to hit the road and head into the mountains.

Of course, there are plenty of big-name mountain towns to visit, but many come with big-ticket prices.

Instead, consider visiting some of these underrated mountain towns. They give you the thrill of the mountains, often at a price that lets you keep more money in your bank account.

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Durango, Colorado

Jim Glab/Adobe town of durango in southwestern colorado

If you want to travel more often to mountain towns, Durango is a great place to start.  

It is located in the southwest corner of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. The elevation here is more than 6,500 feet, even higher than the Mile High City of Denver.

Check out the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad when you visit, especially during autumn when leaves change colors. Look for locations that may have been in your favorite movies shot in the area over the years.

Leavenworth, Washington

Kirk Fisher/Adobe beautiful bavarian themed village of leavenworth

About a two-hour drive east of Seattle is Leavenworth, located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

The town will make you feel like you have walked into a Bavarian village, which is why it can be a great place to celebrate Oktoberfest. You can also visit the town in winter when it’s decorated with plenty of lights for the holidays.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

K.A/Adobe blue spring heritage center eureka springs

Head to the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas to take in Eureka Springs.

The town offers plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and water activities. You can also stay in town and check out the art scene, with plenty of galleries and summer opera performances.

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Red Lodge, Montana

vermontalm/Adobe town in foothills of beartooth mountains

Red Lodge calls itself the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Drive down the picturesque Beartooth Highway to one of the nation’s most visited attractions.

The town also has plenty to do, from hiking and whitewater rafting in the summer to skiing at Beartooth Basin in the winter.

Crested Butte, Colorado

Jacob/Adobe ski resort crested butte town colorado

Crested Butte is perfect for skiers wanting to get away for downhill fun. Here, you can take skiing lessons and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains.

If you prefer to visit in the summer, you'll find plenty of great mountain bike trails here.

North Conway, New Hampshire

JDavid/Adobe beautiful mountains landscape from cathedral ledge

North Conway is located in the White Mountains. It is a great spot for New Englanders who want to get away for a weekend or who would like to move to a mountain town.

North Conway is home to many great ski resorts and the Mount Washington Observatory. If you’re not a skier, you may want to visit the mountains in the fall, when the area is ablaze with autumn color.

McCall, Idaho

knowlesgallery/Adobe mccall idaho covered in winter snow

McCall is located on the shores of Payette Lake. That means there is plenty to do if you like outdoor water activities in the summer.

Fans of winter sports can also enjoy downhill skiing and trails that weave their way among the pine trees. You can embark on plenty of snowmobile adventures in the area during the colder months.

Truckee, California

Matt Gush/Adobe homes beside lake in truckee california

Truckee is close to Lake Tahoe and offers world-class skiing in winter. You can also visit in the summer and try the biking trails around the area, including the Donner Pass near Donner Lake.

The town is also less than an hour away from Reno if you want to head into Nevada for some gambling or a night out.

Black Mountain, North Carolina

jonbilous/Adobe mountains reflection in carolina lake tomahawk

Black Mountain is near Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

The town includes Lake Tomahawk, which is perfect for hiking and water activities. You can also spend your nights wandering around downtown Black Mountain to enjoy restaurants, art galleries, or live music.

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Taos, New Mexico

M. Makela/Adobe tao ski valley covered in snow

New Mexico’s high desert is home to Taos and its historic adobe buildings that are sure to catch your eye.

The town is close to five different resorts for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy in the winter. You can also wander through the town’s art galleries to check out work from local artists.

Midway, Utah

Michael Eaton/Adobe mountains and lush green landscape

Midway is a great spot to visit nearby ski resorts such as Sundance, Park City, Deer Valley, and Brighton.

Film enthusiasts might want to add Midway to their list of possible options when heading to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, which is held in January. There are plenty of films for fans to enjoy in Sundance, Park City, and nearby Salt Lake City, about an hour away.

Jackson, Wyoming

sbthegreenman/Adobe jackson hotel town covered in snow

Jackson is a bit south of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, giving nature lovers access to the beautiful scenery of Wyoming.

You’re also close to several ski resorts, including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Winter visitors can enjoy ice climbing and snowmobiling. And if you want something warmer, take a dip in the nearby natural hot springs, which are sure to keep you toasty on cold days.

Jonesborough, Tennessee

mandritoiu/Adobe jonesborough with beautiful homes during day

Jonesborough is in the Appalachian Mountains. It bills itself as the Storytelling Capital of the World, and you can create plenty of new stories when you visit the town.

Check out Persimmon Ridge Park, which offers hiking trails to explore nature. October is also a great time to visit to check out the International Storytelling Festival and hear unique tales.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Kyle/Adobe dahlonega gold museum during day time

The North Georgia Mountains are home to Dahlonega, less than a two-hour drive from Atlanta.

This year, Southern Living named Dahlonega as Georgia’s Best Small Town. It offers access to hiking trails along nearby Amicalola Falls in the summer, leaf peeping in autumn, and plenty of holiday activities.

Custer, South Dakota

Jacob/Adobe custer south dakota at sunset

Custer is in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Staying here gives you access to plenty of activities, including rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking.

You’re also close to Mount Rushmore — which celebrates four great American presidents — as well as Crazy Horse Memorial and Wind Cave National Park.

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Bottom line

Nattakorn/Adobe asian family packing luggage for traveling

When planning your next getaway, take a moment to consider the appeal of exploring one of these charming mountain retreats. 

These destinations can help you step up your travel game and promise unforgettable experiences amidst nature's grandeur, making your vacation a truly memorable one.

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Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.