While the US is mainly known for its incredible cities, there are a ton of excellent places just waiting to be explored in every part of the country. If you’re an outdoorsy person who wants to get out of the city, moving to one of the best hiking towns will provide you with all the great outdoor adventures you’ve been looking for.
Why Should You Choose to Move and Stay in a Small Place Instead of a City?
If you’re someone who spends their time going on hikes and exploring nature and all its wonders, you might want to try relocating to the suburbs. While you can still have access to plenty of excellent outdoor opportunities when living in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and other major cities, most of them are either crowded or require you to commute for hours. On the other hand, moving to a small town will allow you to explore some incredible sights every day.
Another great benefit of relocating to a small town is that they are significantly more affordable. Let’s not forget that living in the best cities for hiking usually requires a high income. In fact, the cost of living in San Francisco is so high you’ll probably need to earn at least six figures a year just to scrape by. Last but not least, suburbs and towns usually have lower crime rates.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to move to a small town, so why spend all your hard-earned money on overpriced housing when you can live comfortably with much less? If you’re not sure where to move to, take a look at some of the top places for hiking enthusiasts and outdoorsy people in general.
Lower cost of living is one of the better reasons to move to the great outdoors
#1 North Conway in New Hampshire Is Known for Its Hikes and Skiing Opportunities
People who like to have great hikes right at their doorsteps should check out New Hampshire’s North Conway. This small village is nestled in the White Mountains right next to an 800,000-acre national forest, providing outdoor enthusiasts with a ton of opportunities throughout the entire year. Aspiring hikers will love to hear that the whole area features over 40 trails that cover almost 70 miles. These are also incredibly varied and diverse, ranging from a simple half-mile walk to Diana’s Baths waterfalls to the challenging hike to the Mount Washington summit.
North Conway and the state as a whole are known as “the birthplace of American skiing,” meaning you’ll have plenty of chances to ski in one of the many local resorts. The village is also famous among rock climbers, particularly the Cathedral Ledge in the Echo Lake State Park. There’s also a road that takes you to the summit, so you’ll have the opportunity to view the incredible Saco River Valley without having to walk for hours.
Besides all the outdoor attractions, the village is also known for having a ton of outlet shops. If the median home value of just over $300,000 might be too high for some, renting a place for just $1,000 a month should be affordable, even for those with a small moving budget.
Avoid Hiking to the Highest Peaks During Extreme Weather Conditions
While the surrounding areas might provide an abundance of excellent hikes, they are also known for having some of the harshest weather conditions in the entire country. Strong winds hit the region every third day on average, with Mount Washington’s summit holding the record for the highest recorded non-storm wind speed at 231 mph.
Although these weather conditions are generally not surprising, they make exploring some of the highest points in the area more difficult. You certainly don’t want to get caught outside or driving when the storm hits. With that in mind, those who are not confident in their driving skills should avoid relocating during the winter months. If you have to move at the last minute, consider getting a car shipping service from a cross-country moving company.
The view from the Cathedral's Ledge is truly amazing
#2 Durango Is Easily One of the Best Hiking Towns in Colorado and the Country Overall
Colorado has always been known for its incredible outdoors, and Durango is undoubtedly one of its best towns for hikers and nature lovers alike. The mountains surrounding the town are filled with all sorts of destinations that are just waiting to be explored. Locals have access to almost 50 trails that cover over 115 miles, with many starting just outside Durango’s borders:
- Animas Mountain Trail provides incredible views of the Animas Valley, and it’s right above the town,
- Hikers looking for a challenge should try ascending to Perins Peak. The sheer cliffs located at the end of this 7-mile round trip hike are some of the most recognizable natural landmarks in Durango,
- If you’re interested in wildlife watching, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some elks in the Hermosa Creek Wilderness Area,
- The townspeople also have easy access to the famous 500-mile long Colorado Trail, which stretches all the way to Denver,
- Those who want to have a truly unique adventure need to go on a Chicago Basin Grand Slam, which allows you to experience all four of its highest peaks.
Listing everything you can explore would take ages, so take a look at the top 10 places you should visit once you move to Durango.
#3 Utah’s Park City Has the Largest Mountain Resort in the Country
Park City is probably the most-known entry on this list, mainly for hosting the Sundance Film Festival and several sporting events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. It’s particularly famous for its incredible skiing opportunities, as the mountain resort contains the largest ski area in the country. It features 17 slopes, 300 trails, and 14 bowls, and 22 miles of lifts.
While primarily made for skiers and winter sports fans alike, there are many other things to do in the area, even if you’re not a fan of skiing. The nearby Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Wasatch Mountain State Park are just waiting to be explored. If you’re looking to go on a hike or need a good horseback riding trail, both of these locations should definitely be on your radar. Lastly, if you ever need to get back to civilization, know that Salt Lake City is just an hour’s drive to the west.
Living in One of the Best Mountain Towns Has Its Cost
Park City is a very prestigious mountain town, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s not nearly as affordable as some of the other entries on this list. If you’re about to go house hunting in the area, know that you’ll probably need a million dollars to buy a new home. Renting is somewhat cheaper, with rentals going for about $1,500 a month.
While these prices might seem a bit too much, someone who’s already used to the high cost of living in Seattle, New York, and other major cities will fit in right away. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of the residents are pretty wealthy, as the median household income of $111,000 is almost double the nearby Salt Lake City’s. If money is not a problem for you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t move here. Get some long-distance moving services from professional cross-country movers and join this incredible community.
You probably won't find better ski resorts anywhere else in the country
#4 Spearfish in South Dakota Provides All Sorts of Hikes and Plenty of Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
This small city is located just north of the Black Hills mountains, primarily known for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The mountain range features 350 miles of trails that will take you through all sorts of scenic locations. The terrain is incredibly varied, ranging from grasslands to rocky hills and canyons, so there will always be a new trail to explore. The most famous spot has to be the Spearfish Canyon, whose waterfalls provide some truly unforgettable sights.
If you’re interested in wildlife watching, the Belle Fourche National Wildlife Refuge is just north of Spearfish. The Badlands National Park is another excellent option. Although it’s a bit further southeast, the park’s 244,000 acres will give you the opportunity to see some incredible geological formations and even spot a bison.
You Won’t Need a Ton of Money to Live Comfortably in Spearfish
If you find the cost of living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even other places on this list a bit too high, you’ll be glad to hear that it doesn’t take a lot to live comfortably in Spearfish. While the city’s median household income of $46,000 might not be much for someone living in San Diego, it will be more than enough for anyone who plans on moving here.
Cheap housing is another excellent reason to move to the Midwest town. The median home value of $212,700 is just under the national level, with only a few properties exceeding the $400k price range. With a median rent of $760, renting is an even cheaper option. Simply put, you won’t get a better deal for your buck than this place.
Get to see the bison up close in the Badlands National Park
#5 Lewisburg, West Virginia Is Great for Hikers and Art Lovers Alike
Although Lewisburg is primarily known for its incredible art scene, it is also a very popular spot for hikers. While you might not find tall mountains like in some other places we mentioned, there are still plenty of opportunities for a good hike in the surrounding areas. The 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail is undoubtedly one of the better trails not just in the area but the state overall. It starts right north of the town and follows the old railroad tracks, allowing you to see several remote areas that would be impossible to reach on foot.
Geology fans will also have a lot to look forward to, as the area is home to several notable caves. The Lost World Caverns and the Organ Cave have extensive cavern systems where you can spot some incredible rock formations. On the other hand, those looking to go on a more casual hike should check out the nearby Greenbrier State Forest and Moncove Lake State Park. To top it all off, you won’t need a lot of money to move here. With a median home value of $229,000, you’ll have a chance to buy some new property for a very decent price.
Take Some Time to Explore the Local Holidays and Festivals
Besides offering some great hikes, Lewisburg is really big on holidays and festivals. The State Fair of West Virginia is held every August, whose exhibitions bring thousands to the small town’s doorsteps. There’s also the Renaissance Festival, two food festivals, a Literary Festival, and several music events. Despite the town’s relatively small size, there’s always something happening in the area throughout the entire year.
There’s also Belsnickle or Old Christmas held on New Year’s Day. This is an older tradition where people dress in costumes and march down the streets while making noise. With all the decorations you’ll be putting up and down, it might be good to learn how to pack Christmas ornaments as soon as you move. If you’re not sure what to do with these fragile items, there are many creative storage ideas that will help you keep them secured for the rest of the year.
The townies are really big on holiday festivities
Moving Cross Country Is a Big Deal, So Don’t Hesitate to Lookup Some Long-Distance Movers to Assist You
Whether you’re inclined towards mountains or some more accessible terrains, the places we mentioned here will certainly provide a ton of excellent hikes and outdoor activities for you to explore. However, know that relocating to a new state takes a lot of preparation. If you’re moving from the West Coast to the East Coast or vice versa, you’ll probably need to book some professional cross-country moving services.
Getting some packing assistance will give you more time to deal with all the important documents and finish any tasks on your to-do list. Also, be aware that you’ll probably get depressed after moving. Leaving your previous life to settle in a small town is a big chance, but getting out and exploring your surroundings will quickly remind you why you choose to move in the first place.