Mountain towns tend to have a certain mystique. There is something holy about mountains, even if you are not religious. They are huge and protective, the air is pure and fresh, and nature is simply overwhelming. Mountain towns nestled in all that beauty, offer all benefits of civilization needed for a quality life, as well as for marvelous vacation. Scenic mountain towns are a draw for trekkers, climbers and for nature lovers in general. If you are one of them, take a look at the following list of 8 Marvelous Mountain Towns and you might start to plan your own perfect escape.
1. Taos, New Mexico, United States
The picturesque adobe houses of Taos Pueblo are scattered along a desert valley that meets the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Not far away, the Rio Grande River creates another breathtaking natural attraction by cutting a deep gorge in red sandstone. Enjoy the spectacular view from the long span steel bridge, some 10 miles away from Taos. After you get tired wandering around the beautiful landscapes, let the Buddha Margarita, a local drink, whet your appetite for a tasty, traditional dinner. Nice souvenirs, like vintage Kachina dolls or pottery, will always remind you of this small town in the mountains.
2. Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Imagine an idyllic scene of a peaceful lake which mirrors surrounding snow-capped mountains, and you will picture Wanaka. Close to popular Queenstown yet away from its crowd and noise, Wanaka is a gateway to relaxation and a spiritual break. Located in a basin along the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, this exquisite mountain town offers many pleasant ways to spend your time in nature. Take a boat trip to Moa Wahu Island to see the flightless bird Weka, a native bird species of New Zealand. If you are not adventurous enough to take a canyoning trip in a wetsuit, you can also enjoy spectacular scenery from a terrace while having a glass of local beer.
3. Riobamba, Ecuador
The majestic Chimborazo volcano dominates the horizon of Riobamba, a town situated some 120 miles south from Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Although considered inactive, the volcano is both threatening and extremely beautiful. The protected habitat at the foot of the mountain is home to alpacas, llamas and vicuñas. Beside the outstanding natural features, Riobamba boasts a rich religious and cultural heritage, which is found in museums and churches in the colonial city centre. For a true adventure, take an exciting Chiva Express train ride to Devil’s Nose and find out what is actually devilish about this mountain ridge.
4. Stowe, Vermont, United States
The charming little town of Stowe is situated in a valley surrounded by the Green Mountains, which includes the highest peak of Vermont, Mt. Mansfield. The classic 200-year old village is reminiscent of great European mountain resorts. Whatever season you choose for visit, you will enjoy magnificent views, but keep in mind that autumns in Stowe are especially beautiful, due to the fabulous fall foliage scenery. The liveliest area is the historical Main Street, where you can find a number of shops with local products. Don’t stop here, for Vermont’s local farms offer some delicious treats too.
5. Lucerne, Switzerland
Located on the shore of Lake Lucerne and surrounded by the remarkable Swiss Alps, this enchanting town has been a tourist attraction for a long time. Medieval architecture and cobble-paved streets make Lucerne so charmingly quaint and romantic. The town’s most recognizable landmark is the wooden Chapel Bridge, which dates from the 14th century. Mount Pilatus that rises above Lucerne is a place where you can find exciting activities, like tubing slides or summer tobogganing. You can also have an unforgettable lunch, due to both excellent food and the stunning view of the town and lake below. The most scenic way to get up to Lucerne is by taking the Cog Railway.
6. Girdwood, Alaska, United States
Also called the “Glacier City” due to seven year-round glaciers surrounding it, Girdwood is well known as one of Canada’s best winter sports mountain resorts, ideal for skiing, snowboarding, rock and ice climbing. Beside lot of ice, near Girdwood you might find some gold too, as nearby Crow Creek Mine is one of Alaska’s active gold mines. Explore white and luminous landscapes by taking one of guided glacier hiking tours. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can join a glacier cruise trip through Prince William Sound and watch the sea otters and playful whales in Kenai Fjords National Park.
7. Bled, Slovenia
With its gorgeous scenery that includes a crystal-clear lake and the magnificent Julian Alps with snow-capped peaks, Bled is one of those mountain towns that make a perfect backdrop for a fairytale. A castle, church and legends associated with this place additionally contribute to that atmosphere. Take a scenic ride on the lake in a pletna, a local form of gondola. Bled is located at the edge of Triglav National Park, known for its dark forest, pure waters, deep-cut gorges and other fabulous natural features that are definitely worth a visit.
8. Gyalthang, Yunnan Province, China
Nestled among Himalayan snowy peaks, the old town of Gyalthang seems like an oasis of peacefulness and simplicity of life. Gyalthang or Jiantang Town has been named after Shangri-La, the fictional land synonymous with a harmonious, permanently happy land, a kind of earthly paradise. Fertile soil, yaks that drag plows, simple authentic locals and sounds of chants coming from Tibetan monasteries, will take you back to simpler times. Due to close proximity to the Tibetan border, the Tibetan influence is strongly present in town’s culture and way of life.
The above list presents only a brief overview of a few mountain towns around the globe that are worthy of your attention. Although they are different in many ways, they share the same beauty and tranquility. However, you don’t have to travel around the world to find it - maybe you have such a magical place somewhere along your horizon?
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