4 (No, not five) MUST DO Western U.S. Mountain Towns (You’ve Haven’t Heard of Until NOW)!
You say you like gigantic, picturesque fresh-water lakes, boating, skiing and endless low-cost adventure in a breathtaking four-season picturesque mountain backdrop? Shame on you for never casting your yearning gaze upon Sandpoint, Idaho.
Just south of Canada, this magnificent little town (population 7,984-ish) has every convenience without compromising access to some of the Northwest’s most scenic alpine territory. There’s even an adorable city beach (on the magnificent and ultra-deep Lake Pend Oreille) if you’re not a boater. And if it’s skiing you’re after – the local ski mountain is called Schweitzer, but trust us, you won’t miss it. Just look up.
Now, if its spectacular food with a view to match, check out Trinity at City Beach or Spuds Waterfront Grill. Oh, beer and “finger foods” are all the rage here thing here. So, pop into Connie’s Café in town and do order North Idaho Finger Steaks (think tempura prime rib strips.) Yummmmm.
Sitting on the Yellowstone River, just North of America’s most sensational National Park, this sleepy little town of 7,044-ish has never been accused of suffering from a dearth of natural, scenic beauty. You will find all the wildlife you can handle and just like most Mid to Western Montana spots, the fishing here is well, just about better than anywhere else in the whole wide world.
What’s great about Livingston is it’s a destination unto itself. It’s not one of those “near the national park” towns that is gas stations, rock stores (though you’ll find some), branded hotel chains, and gimmicky pancake houses. This place, like the others on this list, are places you can go to unwind, relax and enjoy yourself without the pressure of feeling that you are missing something.
Check out Pine Creek Trail for a majestic woodsy adventure and then replenish your nutrients at Montana’s Rib and Chop House – it’s “hella” good – or grab yourself some local brew and catch at Neptune’s Brewery. And while this is not a foodie article, breakfast & pie at The Northern Pacific Beanery is literally worth flying in for. Oh, and if you’re here in winter and never been dogsledding – Livingston has quite the reputation (and opportunities). Yes, there’s skiing too – FYI.
Okay, so where to stay? We’ve got just the place for you: The Murray Hotel (Yes, Anthony Bourdain fans, he also HIGHLY recommends this little gem.)
They don’t call this place “Wyoming’s Jewel” for nothing (other than marketing, perhaps.) Nevertheless, for whatever reason it was coined, this place deserves its nickname. Voted True West Magazine’s Top Western Town, this spot summons seldom used urban descriptors like resplendent and dazzling. Even quaint understates its charming quaintness if that’s a thing.
Okay, enough empty sobriquets, here’s why Sheridan is so cool. A bit larger than the last town, she boasts a population of around 17,954-ish. She sits at the entrance to Bighorn National Forest and is ideal for the hike and explore crew. Shell Falls (and surrounding Shell Canyon) is gorgeous and one of those places you can go to on consecutive days and never quite get enough. Moreover, unlike some other dusty western towns, the nightlife in Sheridan hops. Lots of cool retro bars and clubs makes Sheridan an around-the-clock destination, equally good for couples and families.
Oh, by the way.
Okay, just because you asked, here’s where you should stay: Historic Sheridan Inn (William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of the original co-owners and contributors. True story.)
This would be considered a sleepy little town, BUT there is so much to see ‘round these parts – there is a steady influx of tourism. The year-round settlers’ population hovers around 4,526 but the local action feels a bit bigger. This one is just north of the Arizona border and you can clearly get a glimpse of that famous Northern Arizona red rock here – but that’s just the beginning.
In fact, you better book a few days because you’ll need to check out the Moqui Cave, The Wave (one of the slickest natural rock formations you’ll ever see and explore), and the pure majesty of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park. Yeah, Nike said it first but, Just Do It!
And all that is just the basics. There’s Buckskin Gulch, Cottonwood Canyon’s Wash Narrows, Paria Canyon … are you starting to get the picture here. You simply must add “Shish” Kanab (no, nobody really calls it that, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity.) There is even the country’s coolest animal sanctuary, BEST FRIENDS, complete with four daily tours where you may actually befriend and adopt a furry or in some cases, feathered friend.
Oh, Bryce Canyon’s right here too and so is Zion National Park. I know, I know … you’re welcome!
If you’re hungry there is plenty of great fare from Rocking V Café to Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant (maybe Pablo will stop by). And when it comes to lodging, you guessed it … Have we got a place (or two) for you: Canyon’s Boutique Hotel, Canyon’s Lodge
So, why not five you ask? Well, there are a handful more that are among our favorites – so splendid, that one must graduate to them. Okay, that’s not quite true. As bloggers, it’s always a good idea to save some content for later.
Note: There is ONE secret town, in ONE of the states mentioned above that we left out intentionally. Why? Because it is literally so perfect, we didn’t want to spoil it by singing its praises to the content-loving public. But, we’ll reveal it IF you can guess it (in the first 10 attempts in the comments. One try per reader, please.) So, have at it!!!!
Oh! And by the way … IF you need some help keeping your travel costs super low (most of us do), so you can see and do more – we are happy and UBER CAPABLE of helping you do so at VacationRewards.com.