The 20 Best Mountain Towns in America
By Robert Earle Howells, Men's Journal
When the lifts shut down in America’s mountain towns, out come the flip-flops, microbrews, and inner tubes. For a real recharge this summer, spend some time at altitude.
Park City, Utah
The outside world may associate Park City with glitz – the Sundance Film Festival, luxe ski resorts, restaurants helmed by big name chefs – but ask locals what they love most and it's sure to be the trails. The hills that surround town hold an unprecedented 400 miles of loops, networks, and connector trails for hiking, trail running, or biking. Best of all, the easy-to-access trails virtually bring the Wasatch Range to you and then drop you off back by quirky Main Street.
Nowadays, High West Distillery in nearby Wanship gets all the buzz, but you can have an equally superb time at Park Silly Sunday Market, a summertime fest of crafts, food, music, and a bloody mary station with enough accoutrements to make your drink feel more like a paperweight. Since warmer weather means not worrying about being first in line to hit Park City's 9,300 skiable acres, reserve your stay at Washington School House. The hotel is a stone's throw from downtown, and also has a tranquil pool and an unreal free breakfast with bounty from the farmer's market.
Getting There: Fly to Salt Lake City; drive 40 minutes east.
Crested Butte Bike Week, in late June, touts "Bikes, Beers, and Bands," but that may as well be the town motto. The 130-year-old former coal-mining camp is nestled in a bowl of high pasture, in a cul-de-sac formed by jagged mountains etched with hundreds of miles of Jeep roads and killer singletrack. Rent a dual-suspension ride from Crested Butte Sports, and get a map marking fabled rides like 401, a 14-miler that starts near the ghost town of Gothic, climbs past Emerald Lake, and descends through helmet-high wildflowers. Or, venture to Evolution Bike Park with 30 miles of lift-served singletrack, including the new machine-built Psycho Rocks, which lives up to the stomach-churning title.
For après-bike, head to Montanya Rum distillery – turns out that rum ages best at altitude, and the water from the spring-fed aquifer it's distilled with is as pure as the stuff gets. Sure, you could book a hotel, but camping at Paradise Divide offers car camping at 11,250' and wildlife sighting you won't soon forget.
Getting There: Fly to Gunnison; drive 30 minutes north.
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