America’s Favorite Mountain Getaways
Crisp, clean air, endless activities and lots of room to stretch out make a mountain vacation one of American’s favorite types of getaways. Thanks to millions of acres and hundreds of destinations, the United States has a perfect mountain destination for even the most discerning travelers. Here are five of America’s favorite mountain getaways.
Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Few destinations offer visitors the range of attractions and activities as Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in southeastern Tennessee and straddling the border with North Carolina, the park is a designated world unique ecosystem, teeming with tree, plant and wild life. The ancient rolling mountains offer fishing, swimming, kayaking and camping, as well as hundreds of miles of trails that range from very easy to quite hard, but all of breathtaking beauty. Simply getting around the area offers scenic drives everywhere, with numerous places to stop, allowing those of limited mobility to enjoy America’s most visited national park. The gateway towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are packed with attractions that cater to families, including the Dollywood theme and water parks, shows suited to all ages, a ski area, ziplines, mountain lifts and coasters, and every kind of kid’s fun imaginable, from arcades to go-karts to indoor snow tubing (the nation’s first). Luxury rental cabins abound in the hills, offering stunning mountain views, and fully equipped kitchens, laundry rooms, multiple games and entertainments, and a hot tub on the deck. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabins hold mountain memories that people come back for every year.
Park City, Utah
A cute little main street, excellent skiing and snowboarding, and a short drive from nearby Salt Lake City make Park City, UT, one of America’s favorite mountain destinations. A trolley that runs up and down Main Street adds charm and makes getting around Park City easy on the feet. Park City’s historic Main Street features a mix of boutique shops, galleries, and restaurants. A ski lift that leaves right from the center of town serves skiers in the winter and sightseers in the summer. Located in the nearby village of Midway, Soldier Hollow has a small slope and tow lift that’s just right for sledding and tubing with the kids – it boast the longest tubing lanes in the state. Left from the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Park City Ice Arena boasts an Olympic-size ice-skating rink. Some hot stone therapy at the RockResorts Spa, or a couples massage at the Spa at the Waldorf Astoria are the perfect way to end a day on the slopes.
The Adirondack Mountains, New York
New York’s Adirondack Mountains feature a mix of historic little towns, pristine lakes and year-round activities. Summer fun like boating, swimming, fishing, jet-skiing and even parasailing bring visitors to Lake George – named by many as America’s most beautiful lake. Take a paddlewheel steamboat cruise to relax in the evening with tours of the lake’s gorgeous Southern Basin. At the northernmost section of Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga details the area’s historical importance for early settlers and offers stunning views of the lake. A little further north from Lake George, the beautiful town of Lake Placid boasts a historical significance of a more recent ilk. Home of the 1980 Olympics, where the US Men’s Hockey team shockingly defeated the USSR, the original Olympic arena still hosts ice hockey games today. The Adirondacks also boast some of the country’s best skiing, including the Gore Mountain, Whiteface Mountain, and McCauley Mountain resort areas.
Spectacular waterfalls, ancient sequoia trees, and unique rock formations make Yosemite National Park one of the nation’s most popular mountain vacation destinations. Part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park is the nation’s third-oldest national park, but the incubator of the idea of protected park areas in America. It attracts almost 4 million visitors per year. Enormous in size, (1,169 square miles), Yosemite offers excellent camping, hiking, and fishing, as well as lots of ranger-guided tours. The park also lays claim to North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls, also one of the world’s greatest falls. Other notable park attractions include the ancient, giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove, a 3,000-foot vertical granite rock formation known as El Capitan, and the pristine mountain waters of Tuolumne Meadows. A group of concession areas offer a mix of shops and galleries – including the Ansel Adams Gallery – as well as restaurants and lodging options. A shuttle system and an abundance of paved walking paths and trails make the amenities accessible to all.
Telluride can be a challenge to reach by car, but that’s part of what makes the trip worth the effort. Outdoor lovers come to Telluride for its excellent winter sports as well as mountain biking, and four-wheeling in the warmer months. Once a mining town of storied history (Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank here in 1889), Telluride now offers more modern conveniences, with reasonably priced lodgings and luxury resorts dotting the landscape. A charming historic district features lots of shops, restaurants, and watering holes. Landmarks like the Telluride Historical Museum, (a converted hospital that was built in 1896) and the historic Sheridan Opera House (built in 1913) help Telluride retain an Old West feel. The old but very hip town of Telluride hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in early summer and the Telluride Film Festival in fall.