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The 18 Best Ski Towns for...

The 18 Best Ski Towns for...

Features
By Hannah Nordhaus
posted: 09/15/2003

FAMILY-STYLE SUCCESS

Bend, Ore.
People move to Bend because it is far more pleasant than where they came from. They come for the reasonably priced housing (median home price: $163,000), mild weather (300 days of sunshine per year) and nonstop recreation (skiing Mt. Bachelor, boating the Deschutes, hiking and biking on the public land surrounding Bend). Growth has been a contentious issue here, but newcomers have also brought the job opportunities this recovering timber town sorely needed.
Median Annual Income $29,235
Main Businesses Recreation, health care
Public School Population 13,444
Unemployment Rate 4 percent

Bozeman, Mont.
If you relish the thought of being two plane flights from anywhere, Bozeman's your place. The median home price is still affordable ($175,000), and Montana State University lends the community vibrancy. Many people compare it to places like Aspen and Boulder-before the money moved in. And then there's the skiing. Bridger Bowl, a low-key, community-owned ski area with some serious rock chutes, is only 16 miles away. Or drive 40 miles to ski the big vertical and bowls of Big Sky.
Median Annual Income $24,769
Main Businesses High-tech, higher education, tourism
Public School Population 5,179
Unemployment Rate 2.5 percent

Burlington, Vt.
First, there are the seven ski areas within an hour of the city, from homegrown hills such as Cochran's to destination resorts like Stowe. Then there are the jobs-real jobs, with real employers such as IBM, UVM, Rossignol and Burton Snowboards. Add attractive and relatively affordable housing (single-family homes go for a median price of $163,500), good schools, cheap season passes, a groovy downtown and a full-service airport, and you're looking at a ski town where you can lay down roots.
Median Annual Income $27,707
Main Businesses Software, health care
Public School Population 3,967
Unemployment Rate 2.8 percent

Edwards, Colo.
As Vail's development-and its astonishing home prices-have spread down the Vail Valley, so have locals looking for affordable housing. Edwards, about 20 minutes west of Vail, has seen its population double in the past two years. Consequently, it has developed its own community, its own businesses and a pedestrian-friendly downtown. And while it is far from cheap ($250,000 for a two-bedroom condo), it's still nowhere near as expensive as Vail (where a similar condo costs $550,000).
Median Annual Income $36,693
Main Businesses Tourism, local government
Public School Population 4,861
Unemployment Rate 4 percent

Park City, Utah (Click the Family-Style Success in Park City link at the bottom)

Truckee, Calif.
Like most towns near Lake Tahoe, Truckee counts eight alpine areas and 500 acres of nordic trails among its blessings, along with spectacular climbing, hiking, biking and watersports. What Truckee offers on top of all that, however, is community. With some of the least expensive housing in the Tahoe area (on average, you'll spend $66,000 less for a house in Truckee than for one in Tahoe City), a brand new community college campus, a happening historical downtown and strong civic pride, Truckee is where Tahoe's real people live.
Median Annual Income $34,083
Main Businesses Tourism, retail, construction, real estate, telecommuting
Public School Population 4,485
Unemployment Rate 4.2 percent

A RELAXED RETIREMENT

Aspen, Colo.
Sure, home prices here hover around $2.75 million, but if you can afford it, there's no place better. Aspen has world-class restaurants, shopping and cultural events. It also has a painstakingly preserved Victorian downtown and one of the most beautiful settings on earth. has so much, in fact, that some days you could almost forget about the phenomenal skiing. Almost. Who could forget four mountains, minutes away, that offer endless, meandering cruisers, white-knuckle steeps and everything in between?
Population 6,307
Average Home Price $3.8 million for a single-family home
Nearest Metropolitan Area Denver (220 miles)
Nearest Airport Aspen Sardy Field Airport (3 miles from downtown)
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 4,893

Harbor Springs, Mich.
Perched gracefully on the northern edge of Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs is a genteel haven of summer cottages, sidewalk cafes, shops, golf courses and three of the Midwest's best ski areas, all within 30 miles. Although the area is most famous for golf, it's an appealing option for folks who want to retire close to the slopes without having to leave the Midwest.
Population 1,567
Average Home Price $281,000
Nearest Metropolitan Area Saginaw (180 miles)
Nearest Airport Pellston (17 miles)
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 491

Ketchum, Idaho
Ketchum and Sun Valley haven't changed a whole lot since Averell Harriman built America's first chairlift here in 1936. Sure, the base lodges have had a few makeovers, and the town has more art galleries and tony boutiques than it once did, but Ketchum is still the same classic, family ski and summer destination it always has been.
Population Ketchum, 3,003; Sun Valley, 1,427
Average Home Price Ketchum $538,513, Sun Valley $515,379
Nearest Metropolitan Area Boise (190 miles)
Nearest Airport Friedman Airport in Hailey (12 miles)
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 2,054

Stowe, Vt. (Click the Retiring to Stowe link at the bottom)
Taos, N.M.
Imagine settling in a charming adobe in the high Southwestern desert-dry air, crystalline light, mountain views, warm days and cool nights. Then imagine that on a powder day, when a winter storm has dropped 2 feet of fluff, you can drive 19 miles to a steep, old-school alpine resort. That's Taos-awe-inspiring turns, a close-knit community, a laid-back vibe and cultural diversity unimaginable in any other ski town. But nope, still no snowboarding.
Population 6,213
Average Home Price $225,000
Nearest Metropolitan Area Santa Fe (78 miles)
Nearest Airport Taos Municipal (10 miles from downtown)
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 1,200

Woodstock, Vt.
Ladies Home Journal once rated Woodstock the "prettiest small town in America," and for good reason. This quaint New England community nestled in the Green Mountains is famous as a summer retreat and fall-foliage mecca. But after the leaves fall, Woodstock has attributes that generally go unmentioned in women's magazines: turns, a whole lot of them. From hometown Suicide Six (birthplace of lift-served skiing) to nearby Ascutney, Killington, Okemo and Pico, Woodstock has slopes in every direction.
Population 3,400
Average Home Price $292,132
Nearest Metropolitan Area Boston (148 miles)
Nearest Airport West Lebanon, N.H. (17 miles)
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 2,032

SKI BUMMING IN STYLE

Frisco, Colo.
With Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper and Keystone within 15 minutes and Vail just 30 minutes away, Frisco lies as close to Colorado skiing's epicenter as you can get. And in a region that has struggled with uncontrolled development, Frisco has somehow succeeded in preserving both its funky, historic downtown and a small-town community feeling. For Summit County skiers who can't afford a slopeside palace (and can't stomach highway-side condo sprawl), Frisco is it.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 6,703
Average Rent $1,025 per month
Local Legend Seth Morrison-one of the world's best bad-boy, big-mountain skiers.
Best Gig in Town Terrain park designer: Not only do you get to build your own halfpipe, you get to put it to the test every day.
Median Annual Income $33,377

Jackson, Wyo.
Why Jackson? Two words: It's steep. Wait, two more: 4,139 vertical. OK, a few more: full-time backcountry access. Rendezvous Mountain, Corbet's, The Hobacks. The fact that a 10-minute tram ride accesses it all. Plus: Insane backcountry skiing off Teton Pass; plenteous Grand Targhee powder; Teton and Yellowstone national parks; the Mangy Moose; real-life cowboys; bald eagles, elk, moose. Okay, that's way more than two words.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 2,900
Average Rent $905 per month for a two-bedroom
Local Legend Tommy Moe-one of only two U.S. men to win an Olympic downhill, Moe now ranks as one of the world's top freeskiers.
Best Gig in Town Bartending at the Mangy Moose: It's big, it's crowded, it's close to the snow.
Median Annual Income $27,729

Sandy, Utah
Sandy isn't charming, but this uninspiring grid of suburban ranch homes at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon is the closest most ski bums get to living at Alta and Snowbird (about 12 miles away). Sandy has little by way of resort amenities and even less nightlife, but you don't move here for the nightlife. You come for the powder, 500 inches of it annually, swirling off the Great Salt Lake and dumping feet at a time on Alta and Snowbird's legendary steeps, bowls, bumps and chutes.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 6,750
Average Rent $638 per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Rick Greener has skied all the world's biggest lines.
Best Gig in Town Making snow at Alta (yes, they do). Ski all day, work at night, and once the big storms roll in you're out of work, with a free pass for the rest of the season.
Median Annual Income $38,346

Tahoe City, Calif.
Tahoe City offers almost every type of ski experience you can dream up. For steeps, there's Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. For deep (if not always fluffy) snow, there's Sugar Bowl and Northstar-at-Tahoe. For uncrowded slopes, there's Homewood. And for year-round hiking, biking, climbing and watersports, few places compare to this High Sierra playground.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 10,335
Average Rent $750 per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Eric DesLauriers-off-piste explorer, instructor, ski guru.
Best Gig in Town Parking lot attendant. Earn a free pass, work until the lots are full, and ski the rest of the day.
Median Annual Income $33,484

Telluride, Colo. (Click the Ski Bumming in Telluride link at the bottom)

Whistler, B.C.
OK, it's not quaint. And even though the exchange rate turbo-boosts the U.S. dollar, the living still ain't cheap. And much is made of the abysmal weather. But if what you want to do is ski, nowhere in North America compares: more than 7,000 skiable acres, 5,280 feet of vertical and bodacious steeps. Not to mention a drinking age of 18 and a staggering nightlife-pubs, clubs and some of the best sushi this side of Tokyo.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 7,000-plus
Average Rent $750 U.S. per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Eric Pehota, revered redneck, backcountry trailblazer and pioneer of first descents.
Best Gig in Town Peddling beers at Merlin's or the Garibaldi Lift Company: packed (tips, tips, tips) and close to the slopes (ski to work).
Median Annual Income $21,302 U.S.
$1,025 per month
Local Legend Seth Morrison-one of the world's best bad-boy, big-mountain skiers.
Best Gig in Town Terrain park designer: Not only do you get to build your own halfpipe, you get to put it to the test every day.
Median Annual Income $33,377

Jackson, Wyo.
Why Jackson? Two words: It's steep. Wait, two more: 4,139 vertical. OK, a few more: full-time backcountry access. Rendezvous Mountain, Corbet's, The Hobacks. The fact that a 10-minute tram ride accesses it all. Plus: Insane backcountry skiing off Teton Pass; plenteous Grand Targhee powder; Teton and Yellowstone national parks; the Mangy Moose; real-life cowboys; bald eagles, elk, moose. Okay, that's way more than two words.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 2,900
Average Rent $905 per month for a two-bedroom
Local Legend Tommy Moe-one of only two U.S. men to win an Olympic downhill, Moe now ranks as one of the world's top freeskiers.
Best Gig in Town Bartending at the Mangy Moose: It's big, it's crowded, it's close to the snow.
Median Annual Income $27,729

Sandy, Utah
Sandy isn't charming, but this uninspiring grid of suburban ranch homes at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon is the closest most ski bums get to living at Alta and Snowbird (about 12 miles away). Sandy has little by way of resort amenities and even less nightlife, but you don't move here for the nightlife. You come for the powder, 500 inches of it annually, swirling off the Great Salt Lake and dumping feet at a time on Alta and Snowbird's legendary steeps, bowls, bumps and chutes.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 6,750
Average Rent $638 per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Rick Greener has skied all the world's biggest lines.
Best Gig in Town Making snow at Alta (yes, they do). Ski all day, work at night, and once the big storms roll in you're out of work, with a free pass for the rest of the season.
Median Annual Income $38,346

Tahoe City, Calif.
Tahoe City offers almost every type of ski experience you can dream up. For steeps, there's Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. For deep (if not always fluffy) snow, there's Sugar Bowl and Northstar-at-Tahoe. For uncrowded slopes, there's Homewood. And for year-round hiking, biking, climbing and watersports, few places compare to this High Sierra playground.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 10,335
Average Rent $750 per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Eric DesLauriers-off-piste explorer, instructor, ski guru.
Best Gig in Town Parking lot attendant. Earn a free pass, work until the lots are full, and ski the rest of the day.
Median Annual Income $33,484

Telluride, Colo. (Click the Ski Bumming in Telluride link at the bottom)

Whistler, B.C.
OK, it's not quaint. And even though the exchange rate turbo-boosts the U.S. dollar, the living still ain't cheap. And much is made of the abysmal weather. But if what you want to do is ski, nowhere in North America compares: more than 7,000 skiable acres, 5,280 feet of vertical and bodacious steeps. Not to mention a drinking age of 18 and a staggering nightlife-pubs, clubs and some of the best sushi this side of Tokyo.
Skiable Acres within 20 Miles 7,000-plus
Average Rent $750 U.S. per month for a one-bedroom
Local Legend Eric Pehota, revered redneck, backcountry trailblazer and pioneer of first descents.
Best Gig in Town Peddling beers at Merlin's or the Garibaldi Lift Company: packed (tips, tips, tips) and close to the slopes (ski to work).
Median Annual Income $21,302 U.S.

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