Best Mountain Towns For Second Homes
Jan 15, 2024
Feb 8, 2024
There are many popular mountain towns in the western United States, each offering its own unique charm. From the low property taxes that many states enjoy and the stunning beauty of the region's diverse landscapes, to the rich history of the Indigenous Peoples heritage sites and old mining towns, it's easy to see why so many look for vacation and second homes in the west.
We've highlighted what western states make some of the best places to buy a second home, and now we're exploring the best mountain towns for second home ownership in those states.
Why Choose A Mountain Town For Your Second Home
Mountain towns offer breathtaking natural scenery with majestic mountain ranges, lush forests, pristine lakes, and rivers. The beauty of these surroundings can be a significant draw for people seeking a connection to nature and a special place to slow down.
For outdoor enthusiasts, mountain towns provide a lifestyle that revolves around outdoor recreation. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and hiking are abundant in these destinations.
Away from the hustle of day to day responsibilities, a second home in a mountain town will allow you to have a place to enjoy an extended vacation, host gatherings, or provide a break from your regular routine.
It can also be a great way to diversify your investment portfolio and even generate an income. Many mountain towns are near ski resorts and other popular activities that could make your second home appealing to tourists and visitors as a rental when you’re not using it.
Here are some of the best mountain towns for second homes to consider:
Set in the beautiful Cascade Mountains, Bend has the highest average number of sunny days in the entire state. It's no wonder that this is one of the best mountain towns for second homes amongst outdoor lovers looking for four distinct seasons to play in.
Hike the Deschutes River Trail with the whole family or take a few extreme buddies up Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park, a challenging feat that rewards you with some of the most dramatic views in the area. This state park is also a world-renowned climbing destination that has over 2,000 routes including sport climbing, traditional climbing, and bouldering.
Spend time Exploring Phil's Trail Complex, an extensive network of trails with options for mountain bikers of all levels. It's one of the most popular biking areas in Bend. Well-maintained with clear signage, you'll find smooth trails, technical sections, fun jumps, and berms.
In the winter, world-class skiing is just a short drive away at Mount Bachelor, one of the largest ski areas in the Pacific Northwest with over 4,300 skiable acres. On clear days, you can see the beautiful Cascade Range and the Three Sisters mountains from the slopes.
The town has also earned the nickname "Beer Town USA" for its vibrant craft beer scene with over 30 breweries and pubs. Events like the Bend Brewfest and Central Oregon Beer Week draw beer aficionados from near and far.
Bend has a laid-back night life with live music at venues like The Domino Room, Volcanic Theatre Pub, and The Horned Hand.
There are many craftsman-style homes, rustic cabins, mountain lodges, and northwest contemporary condos surrounding Bend. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $426.
This charming town offers a refreshing change of pace for those looking to slow down and relax, surrounded by the majestic Wasatch Mountains. If you appreciate natural beauty and think the outdoors make the best playground, Eden and its neighboring towns Huntsville and Liberty, known together as Ogden Valley, are great mountain and ski towns to buy a second home.
World-class skiing and snowboarding are practically in your backyard at nearby Powder Mountain and Snowbasin ski resorts. Powder has one of the largest skiable terrains in North America, with over 8,000 acres. The resort limits daily lift tickets which helps preserve the uncrowded experience that skiers and snowboarders covet the most. For those looking for a backcountry feel without the risk, the resort offers cat skiing for even more remote and untouched terrain.
Snowbasin holds bragging rights as well, the resort hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics downhill and super-G alpine skiing events, and patrons love the high-speed lifts, luxury lodges, and well-maintained runs.
After Utah's epic winters, these slopes transform into an extensive trail system for mountain biking and hiking through alpine meadows and wildflowers with gorgeous mountain vistas.
In the summer you can rent jet skis and boats from Club Med at the Pineview Marina and play at the beaches of Pineview Reservoir. If you're looking for a more secluded day out, head to Causey Reservoir. There's a no-motor rule, so grab a paddle board, kayak, or canoe. It's a popular spot to fish and in September through October you might even see the Kokanee salmon run.
Swing by Peddlers in the Mountain Luxury Lodge for a specialty drink or breakfast before hitting the mountain. And after the day's adventure, you can't go wrong with a margarita and hot platos at Carlos & Harley's.
This town has country charm while still enjoying close proximity to bigger cities like Ogden and Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City International Airport is just an hour away, making it a convenient location for both you and potential guests or renters.
Home styles range from luxury mountain modern estates, ski in ski out cabins, and condos with all the amenities. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $422.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Surrounded by the stunning Teton Mountains and close to Grand Teton National Park and the Snake River, Jackson Hole is a haven for outdoor lovers and has a range of year-round activities.
You can hike right into the heart of the Teton Range, starting at the Jenny Lake Trailhead, go up Hidden Falls before continuing into Cascade Canyon. The views you'll find here are hard to beat.
The Snake River flows through Jackson Hole where you can fish for cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. There are many popular fly-fishing spots surrounding Jackson Hole like Flat Creek and Salt River.
You can snowmobile to Togwotee Pass, just north of Jackson Hole, or ride to Granite Hot Springs in the Gros Ventre Mountains and relax in the warm waters. The area has an abundance of opportunity for backcountry and winter adventures.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is known for its steep slopes and challenging runs, making it a mecca for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Check out iconic runs like Corbet's Couloir and the infamous Hobacks. When you combine deep powder conditions, vast backcountry terrain with some of the best off-piste skiing in the region, and a thriving ski culture surrounding the resort and mountain village, it's easy to see why Jackson Hole is one of the best mountain towns to buy a second home.
Despite its small size and low population density, Jackson Hole still offers a vibrant cultural scene. The town has several music festivals and events throughout the year like the Jackson Hole Rendezvous at the resort, Grand Teton Music Festival that features classical music performances, and Jackson Hole Live, a series of outdoor concerts in the summer months.
The town is known for its upscale restaurants highlighting American cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Visit the Snake River Grill or The Kitchen for seasonal dishes like the Bison Tartare, or enjoy a night out dancing at the Western-themed Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
The Jackson Hole Airport makes it relatively easy to access from major cities across the country. But it's important to consider that the town's appeal comes with a relatively high cost of living, and the real estate market can be competitive.
The area has a range of properties from rustic cabins to upscale estates. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $1.3K.
Telluride is situated in a picturesque box canyon surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the mountain scape surrounding this town is truly mesmerizing. From the historic downtown full of charming victorian buildings, walkable paths, and boutique shops, you can take a free gondola ride up to the Mountain Village.
It's a modern resort community and home to Telluride Ski Resort, plazas full of cafes, bars, and restaurants like Black Iron Kitchen + Bar, luxury hotels and condos, a golf club, and ice skating at the Village Ice Rink.
Telluride Ski Resort is one of the top ski destinations in North America with terrain catered to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. For the intermediate and advanced patrons, the beautifully groomed run See Forever is a must-ski trail for the views alone. The Galloping Goose is a wide and well-groomed favorite for those looking for a more relaxed run.
There's just as much to experience the rest of the year as Telluride turns into a mountain biking and hiking paradise. Explore Bear Creek Trail, or Jud Wiebe Trail — a trail you can start from various points in Telluride, it has some steep sections and elevation gain, and gives you panoramic views of Telluride, the box canyon, Bridal Veil Falls and the surround peaks of the San Juan Mountains. You can make it a longer hike by adding on the loop to the Cornet Falls waterfall.
Telluride hosts a variety of festivals and cultural events throughout the year like the Telluride Film Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride Blues & Brews Festival and the Telluride Yoga Festival.
It's a remote mountain town, but can be reached via a scenic drive through the mountains or by Montrose Regional Airport, which is about an hour and a half away.
While Telluride's real estate market can be competitive, it has shown stability and long-term appreciation. Investing in a second home here can potentially provide both a place to enjoy and make memories, and an opportunity for future financial gain.
Telluride has a variety home styles including historic victorian homes, ski chalets, cabins, and luxurious mountain estates. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $1.6K.
With the Bridger Mountains to the north and the Gallatin Range to the south, Bozeman is surrounded by natural beauty, outdoor recreation and abundant wildlife.
The Gallatin River and other nearby streams are popular spots for fly fishing, excellent for both rainbow and brown trout. The Madison River is one of the most famous "blue ribbon" trout rivers in the region.
It's the closest major town to Yellowstone National Park, one of the biggest attractions in the country. You can take a day trip or stay overnight in the park to explore its most popular features like Old Faithful Geyser, Grand Prismatic Spring, or Mammoth Hot Spring's colorful travertine terraces. Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake in North America and visitors can boat, fish, and hike along the shores.
The drive to Lamar Valley is worth it as you'll likely see bison, wolves, grizzly bears, and elk in their natural habitats. Near the valley, stop for a hike at the Specimen Ridge Trail, a unique landscape of petrified trees, remnants of ancient forests.
The park is so vast that you'll discover plenty of lesser-known hikes if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience. Bunsen Peak Trail is accessible from the Mammoth Hot Springs area and is less visited but gives you panoramic views of the Gallatin Range, Swan Lake Flats, and the Yellowstone River.
Winter sports are also a big draw to the area. Bridger Bowl is known for its community-oriented atmosphere. It's a laid back, friendly resort with 2,600 acres of skiable terrain including parks and freestyle areas and a lot of options for beginners through advanced. Schlasman's Lift Line is a run in the "Ridge" terrain, famous among expert skiers for its steep chutes and powder-filled descents. Or you could do Sunnyside for its leisurely descent with beautiful views.
Because Bridger Bowl doesn't have on-mountain lodging, buying a second home in Bozeman could potentially provide a rental income when you're not enjoying it yourself.
Just 45 minutes south is Big Sky Resort, with a more upscale vibe and lively village at the base of Lone Mountain. The village is designed to offer a complete resort experience with rental shops, equipment repair, medical facilities, childcare services, and ski schools. You can even go ice skating or walk through the wintry "Enchanted Forest" as 10,000 lights illuminate your way. Take the iconic Lone Peak Tram to the summit of Lone Peak, for challenging terrain and scenic views.
Montana State University is a large part of Bozeman's economy, as well as tech companies, startups, and outdoor recreation. The Bozeman Symphony Orchestra, their annual international film festival, and the Museum of the Rockies, are staples in the town's arts and cultures scene. Local craftsmanship and art are celebrated through local art walks and festivals.
There is strong sense of community and home styles include everything from ranches, to rustic cabins, to condos. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $369.
Known for its Old West charm, Durango is located in the Animas River Valley, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Outdoor adventure awaits with the nearby San Juan National Forest and its extensive network of hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding trails. The forest also attracts rock climbers to Lemon Reservoir for sport routes in particular and Cascade Canyon for trad routes.
Purgatory Resort is just 25 minutes north of Durango and has aptly named runs for some of their most popular terrain. Take Lift 4 to Upper Hades, a double-black diamond known for steep pitches and moguls, or Demon, a thrilling black diamond descent that will test the skills and confidence of even the most advanced riders.
Indulge at the Powderhouse, offering a gourmet menu with mountain views that are just as delicious. Or meet up with friends at Dante's, a favorite on-mountain après ski spot. In the summer the resort also has mini-golf, mountain biking, alpine slides, hiking, and zip-lining.
Mesa Verde National Park is 45 minutes west, and is worth the day trip. You can explore the ancient cliff dwellings and archaeological sites of the ancestral Pueblo people. It's a fascinating glimpse into the region's Indigenous People's heritage.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad draws visitors from all over the country. You can take a historic ride along this scenic railway with views of the Animas River. The Animas River Trail itself winds through Durango and is a favorite trail for walking, running, biking, and fishing. Spend the day at the Animas River Whitewater Park for kayaking, rafting, or paddle boarding.
Its popularity as a tourist attraction makes Durango one of the best mountain towns for second homes. It could potentially be an investment opportunity, especially if rented out during peak seasons.
With a variety of home styles including victorian, southwestern, mountain contemporary, cabins, ranches, and more. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $465.
Park City, Utah
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Wasatch Mountains, Park City is a premier destination for outdoor recreation and world-famous festivals.
Historic Main Street offers a vibrant and charming atmosphere, full of boutiques, restaurants, bars, spas, and art galleries.
This mountain town has great food, on and off the resorts. Visit Riverhorse on Main for a special night out, take in the elegant ambiance and indulge in upscale American cuisine.
With two major ski resorts in Park City — Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, and Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird all within 45 minutes, this area is a winter paradise for skiers and snowboarders.
Deer Valley is known for its luxurious amenities, caters exclusively to skiers, and has impeccably groomed slopes. After a day on those ski-only slopes, visit The Mariposa, Deer Valley's flagship restaurant, for a creative and seasonal dish.
The two resorts share a common boundary, allowing visitors to move seamlessly from one to the other.
Park City Mountain Resort covers over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain for beginners to experts. If you're just starting out, head to the top of the Pay Day lift and hit one of the resorts signature runs, Homerun. Looking for a challenge? Advanced skiers will love Ninety-Nine 90, named after the elevation it starts from (9,990 feet), and its mix of groomed runs, moguls, glades and steep chutes.
The Canyons Village has a range of eateries. The restaurant The Farm features a menu of locally sourced farm-to-table ingredients in dishes like Farmer's Market Risotto, the perfect comfort food after a day on the mountain.
There is just as much to enjoy in the summer, with beautiful trails for hiking and mountain biking. The Armstrong Trail is a popular trail that winds through aspens and evergreens and connects to other trails like Mid Mountain or Spiro.
You'll also find excellent golf courses like Park City Golf Club, or nearby in Midway, the Soldier Hollow Golf Course featuring two 18-hole championship courses. The Gold Course is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics cross-country skiing and biathlon events.
Every year celebrities and filmmakers flock to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Dedicated to showcasing independent films, they often share unique and diverse perspectives and storytelling styles.
Park City is conveniently located just 35 miles east of Salt Lake City and its international airport, making it easily accessible for second homeowners who want to visit frequently.
The Park City real estate market can be competitive and the demand for second homes in the area is relatively high, making it a potentially lucrative investment. From sleek townhomes to luxury cabins, currently the median listing home price per square foot is $2.1M.
Sun Valley, Idaho
This popular mountain town in Idaho enjoys the iconic Sawtooth Mountains as its backdrop. Sun Valley is a favorite destination for both winter and summer activities.
Sun Valley has a reputation for being an exclusive and upscale destination. Many celebrities have been known to vacation in this mountain town, adding to its allure.
Despite its small size, it offers a thriving arts and cultural scene with various events and exhibitions, concerts, film festivals, and more. Sun Valley Summer Symphony is one of those standout events, featuring world-class musicians in a series of free concerts. It's the largest privately funded free symphony in the U.S.
You can take a gondola up to Baldy, one of two ski areas at Sun Valley Resort. Patrons love the lack of lift lines, consistent pitch and mix of groomed trails, bowls, and glades. Dollar Mountain is well-suited for beginners with its gentler slopes. It also has a highly regarded terrain park.
In the summer, Big Wood River is a popular fly-fishing spot with Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and occasionally Brook Trout. Many sections of the river are catch-and-release, as a conservation effort to maintain fish populations. It's also a favorite area to take a kayak out or go rafting.
The cornerstone of this mountain town's economy is tourism. The ski resort, outdoor recreation, and festivals contribute significantly to the local economy.
Property values have generally appreciated over time, and there's a demand for vacation rentals, providing potential income opportunities when you're not using your second home.
The home styles in this area reflect their unique mountain setting, and you'll find mountain chalets, cabins, ranches, and luxury estates. Currently the median listing home price per square foot is $2.1M.
Why Mountain Towns Offer The Best Secondary Home
Whether you're seeking a winter wonderland for skiing adventures or a serene summer retreat, these mountain towns offer a unique blend of natural beauty and recreation. From the rugged allure of Telluride to the powder paradise of Eden, each of these incredible areas on our list are undoubtedly some of the best mountain towns for second homes.
Keep in mind that while these towns offer many advantages as second home destinations, it's essential to research the local real estate market and property values to ensure that it aligns with your financial goals and lifestyle preferences.
Interested in finding the perfect area in northern Utah for your second home? Connect with our Utah real estate agents to guide you through the exhilarating process of buying a second home.