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14 Most Affordable Mountain Towns in the U.S.

When it comes to mountain towns, there is a long list of possible destinations across the U.S., some of which are world-famous, like Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Park City. While they definitely offer a ton of scenic beauty and other charms, they aren’t the best for anyone on a tight budget. If you can forget about the glitz and glamour, you’ll find many mountain towns that can make for a truly unforgettable getaway with picturesque scenery and plenty of things to do without the high price tag.

Deadwood, South Dakota Deadwood, South Dakota
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Deadwood, South Dakota

One of America’s most beautiful mountain towns, Deadwood is surrounded by the Black Hills National Forest, a real-life town that was depicted in the HBO series of the same name. It was birthed thanks to a legendary gold strike that sparked a rush in the 1870s, with thousands arriving with hopes of getting rich, whether from finding the gold or making money off those who did. While many come to gamble today, you don’t have to risk your hard-earned money to have fun. If you have any interest in history, you can visit the Adams Museum, the oldest history museum in the Black Hills, with artifacts that relate to the legends of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, the Black Hills Gold Rush, and more. It’s enjoyable just to wander the streets and marvel at the historic homes and buildings, and during the summer, you can watch the talented reenactors take part in an old-fashioned shootout. There are plenty of recreational activities available nearby, too, from fishing, hiking, and mountain biking to skiing at Terry Peak Ski Resort, just a few miles from town.

Stowe, Vermont Stowe, Vermont
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Stowe, Vermont

One of the most charming towns in Vermont, Stowe is postcard-perfect, nestled in the Green Mountains, offering many activities that revolve around the state’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, including skiing at one of the top ski destinations for those who live in the Northeast. During the warmer months, there are practically endless trails to hike, and the fall calls many to enjoy some of the most brilliant patchwork of reds, oranges, and yellows across its surrounding landscapes that are dotted with church steeples and covered bridges.

Laramie, Wyoming Laramie, Wyoming
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Laramie, Wyoming

Laramie is a Western town that offers a great mix of historic and modern delights. It provides access to the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, where you can embark on one of the most breathtaking drives that will take you into a land of dramatic mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife, including mule deer, elk, and moose. In town, you’ll find lots of well-preserved architecture reflecting its Wild West heritage. At the same time, this is a thriving college town that’s home to the state’s only university, which hosts a fantastic geological museum. Check out the many murals created by local artists, sample the breweries, and enjoy a wealth of nightlife venues.

Leadville, Colorado Leadville, Colorado
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Leadville, Colorado

While pricey Aspen isn’t far away, there aren’t many outside of Colorado who are familiar with Leadville, but if you visit, you’ll not only find more affordable accommodation and great eats but all kinds of things to do. Ski Cooper is just a short drive away, offering budget-friendly slopes without the lift lines, and during the warmer months, there are nearly an endless number of hikes to enjoy. The country’s highest incorporated town, it sits at an elevation of 10,152 feet, and 70 square blocks of the downtown area have been designated as a National Historic Landmark of Victorian architecture. You might take a tour of the Matchless Mine and explore the many museums, including the Heritage Museum, the Healy House, and Dexter Cabin. You can stand on the stage where Oscar Wilde performed at the Tabor Opera House and browse lots of interesting shops, including antique stores.

Berea, Kentucky Berea, Kentucky
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Berea, Kentucky

Berea may be the cheapest mountain town to visit in the entire country and a popular weekend getaway spot in Kentucky. It’s a great place for art lovers, known as the “Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky,” but you’ll also find plenty of outdoor activities on offer. The Indian Fort Mountain Trail winds through the Berea College Forest and climbs to a promontory overlooking the town as one of the most popular routes in the area. If you like to explore on two wheels, there are a number of family-friendly cycling trails, including paths in Berea City Park and the three-mile Mayde Beebe White Trail. Afterward, feed hunger pangs at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant, which serves homemade dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

Hot Springs, Arkansas Hot Springs, Arkansas
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Hot Springs, Arkansas

Nestled in Arkansas’ scenic Ouachita Mountains and one of Arkansas’ top weekend getaway spots, the town of Hot Springs draws visitors from across the globe to soak in the naturally warm, healing waters. It’s the perfect place to be after a day of hiking or spending time in and around one of the many lakes in the area. Lake cruises, jet skiing, water skiing, fishing, and boating are all popular at Lake Hamilton, while Lake Catherine has a marina with canoes and boats available for rent and is renowned for fishing, with rainbow trout, striped bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and catfish. You’ll find plenty in town too, with more music venues per capita than anywhere else in the state. It also ranks high for dining, with many fantastic independent eateries.

Dahlonega, Georgia Dahlonega, Georgia
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Dahlonega, Georgia

Located in the Blue Mountains, Dahlonega is an affordable mountain town surrounded by picturesque scenery. There are over 20 trails within a short drive, bringing opportunities for day hikes and backpacking trips in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy it here, too, with many tasting rooms, including the Georgia Winery of Dahlonega Tasting Room, Crane Creek Dahlonega Tasting Room, and Canvas & Cork. Those with an interest in history should visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum, which focuses on the state’s gold rush, which started two decades before the famous 1849 gold rush in California.

Virginia City, Montana Virginia City, Montana
Credit: Virginia City, Montana by Murray Foubister via Wikimedia Commons

Virginia City, Montana

While it was once the largest town in the inland northwest, pulling more than $90 million worth of gold from the area, today, Virginia City is one of America’s coolest ghost towns. It has gone from its peak of roughly 10,000 residents in 1864 to just over 100 today. But there are many reasons to visit this pretty and historic town in the Rockies. Its old homes and buildings were beautifully restored, preserving the authentic Old West feel, with over 100 historic structures, complete with period furnishings and artifacts. Visitors can also hop aboard a stagecoach and ride a narrow-gauge train. Evenings are best enjoyed with the famous Virginia City Players who perform melodrama and vaudeville in the opera house.

Kalispell, Montana Kalispell, Montana
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Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell is tucked between three different mountain ranges near Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park, some of Montana’s most iconic natural attractions. Visitors have a wealth of outdoor adventures at their doorstep, including hiking, paddling, fly fishing, and skiing. There’s plenty in town, too, with the downtown area featuring centuries-old buildings that house locally owned shops, breweries, bars, and restaurants. If you want to delve into the area’s history, check out the Conrad Mansion Museum and the Northwest Montana History Museum.

Lincoln, New Hampshire Lincoln, New Hampshire
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Lincoln, New Hampshire

Located in the White Mountains, scenic Lincoln is in the heart of some of the country’s best fall foliage, but it offers lots to do in every season. During the warmer months, thrills on adrenaline-pumping ziplines can be enjoyed, and there are some ionic hiking trails to explore, like Georgiana Falls, Lincoln Woods, and Mount Pemigewasset. Relaxed rides by tram or gondola can take you to the summit of a ski mountain, too. In the winter, there are slopes for skiers of all levels, along with opportunities for tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Photo ops abound and include the 1871 Flume Covered Bridge.

McCall, Idaho McCall, Idaho
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McCall, Idaho

While places like Sun Valley seem to get all the attention in Idaho, McCall is a small mountain town that’s a lot more budget-friendly and doesn’t attract big visitor crowds, yet it’s still one of the best places to visit Idaho. Located along the southern shore of Payette Lake, enjoy breathtaking water and Salmon River Mountain views along with opportunities to swim, kayak, paddleboard, or even float on the Payette River. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, and during the winter, Brundage Mountain offers skiing. Plus, in the downtown area, you’ll find lots of shops, galleries, museums, a theater, live music venues, and eateries.

Republic, Washington Republic, Washington
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Republic, Washington

The small town of Republic is located east of the Cascade Mountains, just a 45-minute drive south of the Canadian border. The Kettle Mountains lie to the east, while the Okanagan Highlands are to the west; plus, there are many clear blue lakes and rushing rivers for fishing and various watersports throughout the area. It’s a great place to explore the region’s ghost towns or even hunt for fossils at the Stonerose Interpretive Center. Just a short drive from town, beautiful Curlew Lake State Park provides the perfect spot to camp.

Bisbee, Arizona Bisbee, Arizona
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Bisbee, Arizona

Nestled high in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is an incredibly charming Arizona small town and a former mining town that’s become a funky artist haven. Its Queen Mine was one of the richest copper mines in history, opened for nearly a century from 1877 before closing in the mid-1970s. Today is a popular tourist attraction offering tours where you’ll have to put on a hard hat, slickers, and headlamp before taking a ride on the underground train to go deep inside the mine. Bisbee is also known as one of the country’s most haunted towns – those who dare might spend the night at the Bisbee Grand or the Copper Queen.

Big Stone Gap, Virginia Big Stone Gap, Virginia
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Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Stone Mountain rises above the town of Big Stone Gap in the heart of Appalachia, where outdoor adventurers can hike the 20-mile Chief Benge Scout Trail while those who are looking for something that doesn’t require as much effort can drive to the High Knob observation tower for a view of five states. In Natural Tunnel State Park, the Powell River provides a popular place to fish and float, while the Guest River Trail is ideal for pedaling among spectacular scenery. History enthusiasts can learn more about the area in the Southwest Virginia Museum State Park, which includes a Victorian stone mansion and a collection of artifacts with over 60,000 items. In town, there’s a brewing company and a number of pizzerias and other eateries to choose from.

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