Tuesday, August 29, 2023
HomeRVMy 7 Favorite US Mountain Towns To Visit This Summer

My 7 Favorite US Mountain Towns To Visit This Summer

This article was originally published in Travel Awaits on April 30, 2023.

Summer in Phoenix
means hot days and nights. That’s when my husband and I look for cool, crisp
mountain air. Far from the madding crowd, sleepy mountain towns are the best places
to chill; the smaller, the sleepier, the better. These are the nine that we
remember best. They are all at least 6,000 feet in elevation and not more than 5,000
in population. Try one out this summer. You will love it.


Granby, Colorado
is a great skiing area during winter,
but when it closed early the previous winter due to Covid, it became our choice
for our first Covid family reunion. It’s a small mountain town in the Rockies,
8,000 feet in elevation, with a population of 1800.

Just twenty
minutes from our lodge,
Lake Granby offered boats for rent and many
options for eating and shopping. From there we hiked the trail to
Adams Falls, a moderately difficult 0.3-mile
hike, and continued farther to a clear stream that tumbled to become the lovely

Not far is Rocky Mountain National Park, the third most-visited national
park in the country, with many trails, campgrounds, and streams.
Easy Coyote Trail yielded no wildlife sightings, but
at the
Holzwarth Historic Site, one moose was feeding quietly near
the homestead.  And all along the main
park road, we saw many more at sundown.

Pro-Tip: There
are two great day trips from Granby.
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort, 30 minutes away, has 23 mineral springs of different
sizes and temperatures on a hillside. Also 30 minutes away is the upscale town
Winter Park, Colorado where we did some shopping and found
a branch of the Colorado Nepalese and Indian Bistro chain, Durbar. 

Bear Lake, California

Located in
the San Bernardino Mountains at the south shore of
Bear Lake
, this
mountain town is less than a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. It was easy for
our two older grandkids, 24 and 27, to join us for a weekend and make the town
of 5,000 our playground in the midst of Covid lockdowns.

Home to wildlife
in alpine habitats including the rare mountain cougar, the
Bear Alpine Zoo
great for our first morning. Then we hiked the
Woodland Trail, a 1.5-mile loop of dry woodlands
with 16 interpretive stops explaining the plants, wildlife, and geology of the
area. Our first half-day was capped by a picnic at the
East Boat Ramp.  

The two-block
urban area of shops and restaurants called
The Village was great for our first afternoon:
hanging out while enjoying $2.99 sundaes at the
Bone Yard Bar & Grill, scouring the shops, and watching the brightly lit carriages
shuttling tourists around over dinner.   

The next day
we went to
Pine Knot Landing and rented a 22-foot pontoon boat. Southern
California’s largest recreation lake, seven miles long and a mile at its
widest, 7,000 feet above sea level, became a wonderful base for taking photos of
Big White Dome, the Dam, and unique floating outhouses! Then we capped our
stay at the large deck of the
Pines Lakefront Restaurant, looking out to “our lake.”

Pro-Tip: A
$5 Adventure Pass allows parking at all trailheads and the use of all restrooms.


When Covid
statistics started to decline, the upscale
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort (in the unincorporated community
Snowbird, Utah) reopened, requiring very low points. My husband and I could
not pass up the chance. From there, we ticked off a bucket list item: the
Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island, less than an hour away. 

Our 1,500
sqft one-bedroom suite at
The Cliff Lodge also included a living room, a dining
room, and kitchen/bar. One of the two balconies had a jacuzzi that looked out onto
the Wasatch Mountains, with wonderful displays of wildflowers instead of winter
ski slopes. Still, we spent time at the high-end Spa at the top of
The Cliff Club .

With an aerial
tram, chairlifts, a mountain coaster, a huge trampoline, summer tubing, the
vertical drop, a tree climb, gemstone mining, and the alpine slide, the
Snowbird Village was the place to be. The
Peruvian Lift and Aerial Tram took us to 11,000 feet for
spectacular vistas.  

There were other
lodging options, nine shopping outlets, five fine dining, and 11 casual dining
And all these trails: 11 lower mountain, ten mid/upper
mountain, and six Mineral Basin Trails for hiking and mountain biking.

With a
Bird Bundle pass, one can avail of a host of
summer activities.

The Grand
Mesa Northern and Southern Terminuses

At over 500
square miles and
11,000 feet elevation,
Grand Mesa in Colorado is the largest flat-top mountain in the world. With over 300 stream-fed alpine
lakes offering great fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing, it became
a great personal retreat. The Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic
Byway (State Highway 65) runs through it for 62 miles between
Cedaredge, the southern terminus, and Mesa in the north, two special mountain towns!

The Grand Mesa Visitor Center is near Cedaredge, which is at a
lower elevation of 6,000 feet.  It’s a
retirement haven (30 percent of the 2,400 residents are 65 years of age and
older) because of the mild climate, low taxes, outdoor recreational
opportunities beyond those offered in Grand Mesa, health care facilities, and
cultural activities. From there we made a trip to the southern entrance of the
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Mesa is higher
at 8,000 feet and smaller with only about 600 residents. It is where most of
the tourists stay in ski resorts, tiny home villages, lodges, and campgrounds.
A ski lift platform took us to breathtaking vistas at the top. We even
discovered the
American Servicewomen Memorial Park in Collbran, 15 minutes away, the
first park to honor women.

Pro-Tip: We
got supplies from
Palisade, down at the foothills dubbed “The Peach
Capital of Colorado.”

Head and Parowan, Utah

Last summer we
had our family reunion at
Brian Head, Utah, minutes away from the Cedar Breaks National Monument. Smaller than Bryce Canyon National Park (only an hour away), the Cedar Breaks’ hoodoos are
much larger and more dramatic. It is truly a hidden gem.

The small
downtown (population 154) had regular restaurants and shops, but an art/flea
market added to the fun. Afterward we drove up a narrow gravel road to reach
Brian Head Peak (12,000 feet). From the very windy
overlook, the view of the reddish national monument was surreal; at night,
stargazing was spectacular. We were happy we caught the last day of the
Wildflower Festival, too.

Cedar City
is a valley town of 37,000, 40 minutes away. But it was
Parowan, Utah, at an elevation of 6,000 ft. with 3,100
in population and just 20 minutes away, that caught our fancy.
The Parowan Cemetery features frontier-era sandstone
fences and markers. We stood in front of the grave of one of the many wives of
Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church.

At the outskirts
of Parowan is a wind gap, a 600-foot-deep notch through the hills cut by an
ancient river 15 million years ago. Native Americans carved petroglyphs on the
smooth faces of the large boulders. The
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs are on the National Register of
Historic Places.

Pro-Tip: Farther
on the Gap Road is
Dinosaur Footprints Trail, an easy 0.4-mile hike with some
dinosaur footprints properly marked.  

Butte, Colorado

Several summers
ago, my husband’s high school had a reunion in
Crested Butte, Colorado, a former coal mining town with a current population
of 1,500 at 8,800 ft. elevation. (The other town of Mt. Crested Butte is at
9,375 ft). They are famous for skiing and the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. We
stayed at the cozy
Columbine Cottage with great views of the mountains
and the Aspen Glow.

The Silver Queen chair lift took us to 11,000 ft of Gothic Mountain and a thousand feet more of hiking
got us to the top. The area is Colorado’s wildflower capital, and near
Kebler Pass there were troves of lavender,
yellow, white, and orange. The movie “Swiss Family Robinson” was filmed around
Lake Irwin. In fact, the Hollywood Cabin is
still there. We picnicked near the top of the mountain.

After a
great walking tour of downtown hosted by the popular bard from the town museum,
we joined all the townsfolk who had gathered for a free outdoor concert on the
grounds of the
Center of the Performing Arts with the venerable mountain as the

Pro-Tips: Some
of us did river-rafting on the

Pueblo, New Mexico

At 7,000
feet in elevation,
Taos Pueblo in New Mexico is a unique mountain
town. With a population of 4,500, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited
community in the US. This World Heritage Site includes 95,000 acres of
preserved land called the
Blue Lake Wilderness Area of the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Red Willow Creek splits the Pueblo into the northern
part with the Hlaauma and the southern Hlaukkwima, two adobe Great Houses
believed to be more than 1000 years old. The old church and cemetery have been
there since 1619. Today the modern city of Taos lies nearby for tourists’
dining, shopping, and lodging.

Pro-Tip:  From Santa Fe, the Low Road that follows the Rio Grande
(spectacular in fall) takes you there. Going back, take the
High Road and stop at the Santuario de Chimayo (built in the 1800s) and marvel at its original 6-foot crucifix.



13 Rowdy Reasons The Calgary Stampede Is The Greatest Show On Earth


Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments