20 of the Most Scenic Mountain Towns in America

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In the United States, we have a lot of mountains, and they provide a tremendous amount of recreation, inspiration, and spectacular scenery. At the feet of those mountains are many scenic mountain towns that people love to visit and live in.

The towns on this list were selected not just for their breathtaking scenery but also for their unique charm and the different experiences they offer. Each one is a testament to why mountain towns continue to draw visitors from around the world, looking for both solace and adventure. Settling on what the most scenic of them are would be impossible, but the 20 here certainly have a place on any list.

1. San Simeon, California

San Simeon, California
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If you love both the mountains and the sea, you’ll love San Simeon. Located in California’s famed Big Sur region, it’s on the Pacific coast about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Big Sur is a scenic strip of land sandwiched between the ocean to the west and rugged mountains to the east.

2. Bishop, California

Bishop, California
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Really, all the towns in the Owens Valley on the spectacular east side of the Sierra Nevada are scenic. Bishop is the largest of them. To the west, the Sierra crest towers above, but don’t overlook the White Mountains to the east, where you’ll find one of the state’s highest peaks as well as gnarled bristlecone pines, the world’s longest-living organisms. Bishop is one of those places I’d move to in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

3. Lone Pine, California

Lone Pine, California
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Down the Owens Valley is this mountain town made famous by the Humphrey Bogart classic High Sierra. Notably, it sits in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48. To the east are the Inyo Mountains, a mountain wall separating the Owens Valley from some of the most remote parts of Death Valley National Park.

4. Flagstaff, Arizona

San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Arizona
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Many think of Flagstaff mainly as a gateway to the Grand Canyon, but it’s a destination in its own right. Nearby are the San Francisco peaks, where you’ll find Mt. Humphreys, the highest peak in the state. You’re also close to Sunset Crater National Monument, where you can view volcanic peaks and walk on black volcanic sand.

5. Silver City, New Mexico

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Silver City New Mexico
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Silver City is tucked away in the southwestern corner of the state. The high mountains around it contain the Gila Wilderness and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, as well as many other outdoor recreational sites.

6. Telluride, Colorado

San Juan Mountains in Colorado
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Located off the main road in a dead-end canyon in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Telluride is one of those places that instill envy in others when you go there to visit or live. Although it can get really busy, the narrow canyon it’s in keeps it from growing too big, and there are year-round outdoor recreational opportunities there.

7. Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado
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On the other side of the San Juans, you’ll find Ouray and Silverton. Both are scenic, but if you want someplace a little less busy, you’ll prefer Silverton. You have to turn off the main highway to get there, whereas that main highway runs straight through Ouray.

One of my favorite things to do in this area is make a loop linking the two towns. This incorporates parts of Colorado’s Alpine Loop, a rugged journey over high mountain passes that has some of the best scenery in the state. Note: you’ll need a 4WD vehicle with a short wheelbase for this; large trucks and SUVs will struggle with the tight curves.

8. Crested Butte, Colorado

Resort Town of Crested Butte, Colorado
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Crested Butte is no secret, but being reachable only by winding mountain roads keeps it from getting as congested as most other Colorado mountain towns can be during peak visitation times. This also gives the area a remote feel.

9. Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park, Colorado
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This gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is expensive and usually really busy, but it’s worth going there. The views can’t be beat, and majestic elk often stroll through town! It’s a little too busy for my tastes, so I usually just pass through as quickly as I can but don’t let that deter you from visiting this beautiful, very popular place.

10. Alta, Utah

Alpine skiing in Alta, Utah
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Tiny Alta is really more of a ski resort than a town, and the setting is incredible. It’s near the head of scenic Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range east of Salt Lake City. Impressive mountain peaks surround the area, and in summer, nearby Albion Basin, at the road’s end, explodes with color as wildflower meadows bloom. To me, this is the prettiest mountain location in Utah you can reach by car.

11. Stanley, Idaho

Sawtooth National Recreation in Stanley, Idaho
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Stanley sits in a valley at the feet of the craggy Sawtooth Mountains, the centerpiece of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. You can see mountains in all directions, and several trailheads in the area provide access to the beautiful backcountry.

12. Pinedale, Wyoming

Wind river range in Pinedale, Wyoming
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With 22 of Wyoming’s 25 highest peaks, including Gannett Peak, the very highest, the Wind River Range is the “Roof of Wyoming.” Pinedale is a fun town on the west side with a young, energetic spirit, and I usually spend at least one night there or camp nearby on road trips in Wyoming.

13. Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
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Jackson is like the Aspen of Wyoming because it’s become a playground for the ultra-wealthy. It’s very expensive to visit and usually very busy. Still, though, it’s hard to find a better setting. The Teton Range soars into the sky, and the Snake River winds through the valley known as Jackson Hole.

14. Dubois, Wyoming

Scenic Overlook in Dubois Wyoming
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Dubois is almost due north of Pinedale on the other side of the Wind River Range. Here, the Winds are less craggy, but the Absaroka Range, on the other side of the valley, more than makes up for it. These dark, volcanically formed peaks have a foreboding look to them, and some of the country’s most rugged and remote wilderness is back there in them. Colorful badlands surround the town, and this is where I’d go live if I could just walk away from everything.

15. Cooke City, Montana

Cooke City, Montana
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Cooke City, just a few miles from the northeastern entrance to Yellowstone, is so small that if there were no traffic, you could drive through in less than a minute without exceeding the speed limit. That said, it’s a fun, really cool town with dramatic Absaroka peaks all around it, and it’s one of the ends of the famous and spectacular Beartooth Highway. I especially love the scene as you drive into town from the east; a pointy subpeak of Republic Mountain towers over the main street and its buildings.

16. Alpine, Texas

Alpine, Texas
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It’s a long drive to Big Bend National Park from about anywhere. I like to break it up either coming or going by spending a night in Alpine, my vote for the coolest and most scenic Texas town. The mountains outside town are on private land, so you can’t explore them without permission, but that doesn’t make them any less pretty.

17. Boone, North Carolina

Boone, North Carolina
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Boone is in a valley on the western side of the Blue Ridge. There are excellent views of the surrounding mountains in town, and it’s a pretty short drive away from some of the most scenic parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway. My preference on road trips has usually been to stay high up on the Parkway, but Boone has been my top choice for times when I preferred a bed, or my wife wasn’t having any of sleeping in the car!

18. Luray, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA
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You’ll find Luray in the storied Shenandoah Valley on the western side of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge. There are nice views of Shenandoah’s highest peaks there, and it’s also the location of the famous Luray Caverns, which is definitely worth a visit.

19. Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid, New York
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Lake Placid is in the lake studded Adirondacks of Upstate New York, and it has a resort feel without feeling too touristy. This was the location for the 1980 Winter Olympics, and the Miracle on Ice, when the U.S. men’s hockey team, mostly consisting of amateurs, pulled off a stunning upset of the dominant Soviets and went on to win the Gold.

20. Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
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Bar Harbor is similar to San Simeon. It’s on the coast, and there are also mountains nearby, including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in Acadia National Park. My favorite memory of Bar Harbor is having dinner there at a restaurant on its final open night of the season. At closing time, the owner invited all remaining patrons to stay, and everyone enjoyed drinks on the house for a couple cozy hours before heading off to bed.

The World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

woman sitting on mountain top
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For as long as humans have existed, mountains have inspired and daunted us. They’re the basis for countless legends, and although they can be deadly, have an irresistible pull on us, drawing millions of sightseers, hikers, climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts every year. Making a definitive list of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world is subjective, but the ones here are certainly strong contenders.

The World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

grand canyon sunrise
Image Credit: Canva

If you’re wondering where the best place to see the Grand Canyon sunrise at South Rim is, you’re not alone. With more than six million visitors to the national park each year, there are plenty of people trying to find the best place to see the show.

And what a show it is! Mother Nature does not disappoint. It was easily one of the most memorable sunrises we’ve ever seen! There are some things you should know before you go, though, and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions for you.

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.