The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
June 12, 2024

Every year, skiers and snowboarders flock to the slopes for unforgettable alpine adventures. 

After a long day in the powder, today’s outdoor enthusiasts are looking for more than just a place to crash. Being able to hang gear, gather for a home-cooked meal, or sink into a private hot tub can take their getaway to the next level. That makes a vacation rental ideal for travelers — and ski property a savvy investment for buyers. 

Even better: Many of the best places to buy a ski property have become year-round destinations, with charming downtown areas and all-season fun. So, maximizing revenue in a ski market is all about striking the right balance. You want a location with proximity to great skiing, affordable prices, and activities that attract warm-weather visitors. 

And speaking of summer, the off-season months of June through August are the best time to buy a ski property — easing the pressure of wintertime competition and giving you the chance to see what every season will offer in the area.

Looks like you found this list at the perfect time to invest!

Tighten your boots, grab your gloves, and check out the best ski towns for a rental property investment right now.

Want a more tailored approach to buying the perfect rental? Our team can help identify markets, properties, and partners to lift your success. Fill out this form to start a conversation today.

In This Article:
The Poconos, PA
Shenandoah Valley, VA
Laughlintown, PA
Vernon Township, NJ
Wilmington, VT
Idaho Springs, CO
Boone, NC
Boyne City, MI
Ruidoso, NM
Maggie Valley, NC
Brian Head, UT
Pagosa Springs, CO

How We Chose the Best Places to Buy a Ski Property

Our data is based on a combination of proprietary and public data, but the three key metrics we took into account are:

  • Vacation rental performance metrics for ski towns across the U.S. to learn where bookings lead to higher median revenue
  • A combination of Zillow, Redfin, and internal data to identify median listing prices in vacation destinations
  • Estimated yearly expenses to run a vacation rental (approximately 30% of total revenue) to help calculate the cap rate

In addition to these metrics, we evaluated a vacation property’s potential to outperform market expectations with an Evolve partnership. Below, you’ll see The Evolve Difference highlighting how we helped some of our top vacation rental owners maximize income and significantly beat the market’s projected revenue.

Please note: all data projections reflect ideal-state scenarios. Variables like owner-blocked calendars and extenuating circumstances (like natural disasters) are not factored into these calculations.

1. The Poconos, PA

Photo of a ski hill near the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania during winter. Image text reads, "$37,172 median rental revenue. $253,864 median listing price. 10.2% example cap rate."

With a wide range of ski areas like Jack Frost Ski Resort, Big Boulder Mountain, and Camelback Ski Resort, visitors are spoiled for choice when seeking the perfect run in the Poconos. And beyond the winter season, the Poconos still showcase plenty of appeal. Leaf-peepers come to see vibrant fall foliage and summer vacationers book lakeside escapes. Investors can tap into this year-round allure to create a haven for travelers of all kinds. 

With a median listing price of $253,864, the Poconos area earns extra points for having some of the most affordable ski towns to buy a home. Our real estate experts say Albrightsville, Tobyhanna, Long Pond, Lake Harmony, and Pocono Lake are all worth exploring for success. 

Top-performing properties in these areas provide easy proximity to multi-season fun — from ski resorts to hiking trails to lake access. This market is also particularly popular among families, which is why larger five-bedroom homes tend to earn the most on average. That said, smaller rentals do quite well when they offer family-friendly amenities, ski-in/ski-out access, and luxe additions like hot tubs.

Our real estate experts do note that permitting requirements can vary between different counties and towns in the Poconos market. As you explore your favorite locations, it’s important to work with local experts who can work out those details for you.

We can connect you with local, licensed real estate agents who specialize in short-term rental — and can help you navigate the ins and outs of permitting and other requirements.

2. Shenandoah Valley, VA

Photo of Shenandoah Valley in Virginia at sunrise during winter with snow on the ground. Image text reads, "$39,126 median rental revenue. $319,608 median listing price. 8.6% example cap rate."

Known for its stunning natural beauty and booming ski scene, the Shenandoah Valley is one of the best up and coming ski towns — offering a stellar combination of outdoor recreation and rural charm. During the winter months, travelers come from all over to visit Massanutten Resort, a 6,000-acre resort area with a ski and adventure park, dining venues, shopping, and a day spa. Throughout the rest of the year, outdoorsy types come to hike the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park.

Over the last year, the Shenandoah Valley has seen a consistent cap rate (your annual net operating income divided by a property’s market value), indicating ongoing performance strength investors can capitalize on. To really make the most of this market’s opportunity, our experts recommend narrowing your search to McGaheysville, Massanutten, and Elkton since they’re the most affordable ski towns to buy a home in the region. Plus, these towns are all located in a county with rental-friendly regulations.

Evolve owners pulling in more than double the median rental revenue are all located within minutes of a ski resort (usually Massanutten) and often boast slope views. They also tend to cater to families, so consider looking for a larger home that can host a crowd — and include perks like ping-pong tables, arcade games, and spaces to drop ski gear (like a mudroom).

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $89,440 annually!

3. Laughlintown, PA

Photo of a forest covered in fresh snow in Laughlintown, Pennsylvania. Image text reads, "$31,905 median rental revenue. $267,381 median listing price. 8.4% example cap rate."

Nestled in the heart of western Pennsylvania, Laughlintown is an up-and-coming ski town to buy investment property in. Unlike the Poconos — which offer a great retreat to East Coasters — this peaceful locale catches the eye of Pittsburgh and Midwest travelers.    

Laughlintown sits near Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, known for having the steepest double diamond slope in the state. But its proximity to other attractions like Linn Run State Park, Idlewild Amusement Park, and the historic town of Ligonier boost multi-season booking opportunities, too.

Interested investors can look at Laughlintown proper or its Laurel Mountain borough, where many of the strongest performing homes are located. If buying options are limited, our experts say expanding your search to include nearby Ligonier is worthwhile. And no matter where your investment home is located in the area, game rooms, home theaters, or pools are typically available in the vacation rentals earning top dollar — so these are important amenities to consider for five-star value.

Offering the amenities guests search for most can significantly boost your vacation rental performance. Check out which ones are worthy of your investment in different regions across the U.S.

4. Vernon Township, NJ

Photo of a ski resort near Vernon Township in New Jersey during summer with green trees. Image text reads, "$35,371 median rental revenue. $325,430 median listing price. 7.6% example cap rate."

Around an hour’s drive from New York City, Vernon Township grabs interest from local weekenders and out-of-towners looking for a Big Apple day trip. Adrenaline junkies are in good hands with Mountain Creek Ski Resort, a four-season destination with skiing, ziplining, several dining venues, and a waterpark.

Visitors can also find plenty to do outside of the resort. There are events like the Vernon Lights Festival and Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hills Farm, plus dreamy nature excursions in Wawayanda State Park and Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. This translates to a strong opportunity for consistent bookings year-round.

Top-performing Evolve owners earning nearly triple Vernon Township’s market median are largely within the Mountain Creek Ski Resort or offer ultra-easy access to the resort via shuttle services.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $96,976 annually!

Itching to explore more locations with all-season booking demand? Check out all the best places to buy a vacation rental across the U.S. right now.

5. Wilmington, VT

Photo of a ski resort near Wilmington, Vermont during winter on a blue bird day. Image text reads, "$33,289 median rental revenue. $342,678 median listing price. 6.8% example cap rate."

Head to Wilmington for a quintessential New England experience with easy access to Mount Snow, a renowned mountain resort where skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels can find premier terrain. 

Beyond the iconic draw of Mount Snow, Wilmington is one of the best places to buy a ski property because it takes on a charming identity of its own. The streets are dotted with quaint shops, cozy restaurants, and a welcoming community vibe. There’s also plenty of hiking, biking, and scenic landscapes to explore in the warmer seasons, so it’s possible to earn bookings from backcountry enthusiasts all year long.

High-earning Wilmington vacation rentals are within ten miles of Mount Snow and Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Area, and tend to be larger properties with four to five bedrooms. Many of them are also pet-friendly, catering to vacationers looking to bring furry friends along. 

If you’re hoping to expand your property search beyond Wilmington, our experts recommend turning to Dover — another town at the base of Mount Snow with strong performance potential.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $89,353 annually!

6. Idaho Springs, CO

Photo of the Rocky Mountains during winter near Idaho Springs, Colorado. Image text reads, "$51,059 median rental revenue. $571,371 median listing price. 6.3% example cap rate."

Tucked in the Rocky Mountains, consider Idaho Springs the gateway to a variety of world-class ski resorts — including Loveland, Winter Park, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, and Echo Mountain Ski Resort. This historic Colorado locale gives investors the unique opportunity to grab travelers who want to hit big-name slopes without the high daily rates and tourist congestion that come with being in the center of a major ski town. 

Of course, ski proximity isn’t the only perk of an Idaho Springs vacation rental investment. The area has a variety of warm-weather to-dos for nature lovers, a bustling downtown with local restaurants, shops, and breweries, and it’s only about 45 minutes by car from Denver.

According to our experts, Idaho Springs has seen cap rate rise in the last year thanks to a substantial increase in median rental revenue, which reflects growing demand owners can harness with a strong purchase and strategic revenue optimization. And while home prices are on the rise in this area, smaller homes with one to two bedrooms are commonly the top profit drivers (particularly when they have mountain views and hot tubs). These tend to fall well below the median listing price, creating room to slide into this market at lower upfront costs while outpacing income averages — further boosting your cap rate potential. 

Like last year, there are short-term rental restrictions and permitting requirements at play in this area. It’s a good idea to partner with real estate experts who can help confirm you’re meeting regulations before diving into a purchase.

Invest in a property already vetted for vacation rental potential with these homes for sale. Each is handpicked for their potential to perform well in their respective markets — putting you ahead of the game from the jump.

7. Boone, NC

Photo of a winter scene with snow on a pine tree near Boone, North Carolina. Image text reads, "$37,628 median rental revenue. $423,825 median listing price. 6.2% example cap rate."

You’ll find Boone in the Blue Ridge Mountains, centrally located within easy driving distance of three major ski resorts: Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, and Appalachian Ski Mountain. When visitors aren’t on the slopes, they can enjoy scenic Blue Ridge Parkway drives, hike up the iconic Grandfather Mountain, pan for gems at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine, and hop between local breweries and distilleries.

With crisp, snowy winters and lush summers, Boone compels outdoor adventurers across seasons. Plus, downtown Boone boasts a vibrant music and arts scene with tons of year-round events that bring in a steady stream of visitors. 

Evolve owners earning nearly double the median rental revenue have properties in Boone that are within ten miles of one of the area’s top three ski resorts. They also make good use of the outdoors with hot tubs, large decks, private backyard spaces, and/or on-site hiking trails. Many of these top-performing homes are also classic log cabins that allow pets — an amenity guests often look for in the South

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $80,062 annually!

Interested in the idea of a cabin investment? Check out the best places to buy one from coast to coast.

8. Boyne City, MI

Photo of a chairlift on top of a hill near Boyne City, Michigan during the off season. Image text reads, "$33,724 median rental revenue. $383,845 median listing price. 6.2% example cap rate."

The only Midwestern contender of all the best places to buy a ski property, Boyne City blends winter sports with an inviting small-town atmosphere and a wide range of outdoor activities, like snowshoeing and ice fishing. It’s located near the pristine shores of Lake Charlevoix and offers easy access to the world-renowned Boyne Mountain Resort, grabbing demand from families and large groups in both the winter and summer months.

List prices in this area have increased while median rental revenue dipped in the last year, bringing down the overall cap rate. With that said, Evolve owners equipped with expert rental management strategies are still blowing income averages out of the water — and, in many cases, are actually performing even better than they did last year. 

The secret: most of our high-earners are cabins that sit close to Boyne Mountain Resort. They also tend to be more spacious, allowing for eight to twelve guests, and feature fantastic multi-season perks like fire pits and hot tubs. Since families are one of the area’s primary audiences, kid-friendly amenities (think: DVD players, children’s toys, and game rooms) are another important detail to feature.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $107,389 annually!

9. Ruidoso, NM

Aerial image of snow-capped mountains in Ruidoso, New Mexico during winter. Image text reads, "$27,885 median rental revenue. $362,411 median listing price. 5.4% example cap rate."

Ruidoso’s alpine charm, arts, vibrant culinary scene, and Wild West history makes it a shoe-in for vacationers of all kinds — but it’s particularly attractive to outdoor adventurers. 

Guests can enjoy downhill fun at Ski Apache Resort and snow tube at Winter Park Recreational Area in the winter. When the snow melts, they can hike the Sierra Blanca Mountains or visit the region’s most popular landmarks (like White Sands National Monument and Lincoln National Forest) — which extends booking potential from nature lovers across seasons.

It tracks, then, that the homes performing best in Ruidoso tend to have wraparound decks, stunning mountain views, and hot tubs. Consider your proximity to Ski Apache Resort and local sightseeing must-dos, too; providing an easy guest commute to the most popular attractions will give your property a marketing edge.

10. Maggie Valley, NC

Photo of a winter scene with snow covered trees and thick fog near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Image text reads, "$31,323 median rental revenue. $419,009 median listing price. 5.2% example cap rate."

In the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Maggie Valley is a paradise for winter sports, hiking, biking, golf, and ample scenic beauty. This charming mountain town offers easy access to the beloved Cataloochee Ski Area and Tube World. Plus, it’s conveniently set right in between Bryson City and Asheville — two other popular North Carolina enclaves with plenty of day trip appeal. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a home that doesn’t look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Maggie Valley area, so it’s no surprise that high-earning vacation rentals all boast awe-inspiring views. 

Beyond that, Evolve owners taking home more than double the median revenue are located within 10 miles of Cataloochee Ski Area and offer luxe touches like fire pits, saunas, and game rooms. They’re also often traditional log cabins that cater to multi-generational groups by offering safety for young children and accessibility for the elderly.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $67,456 annually!

11. Brian Head, UT

Photo from the top of a trail looking down at a ski resort in Brian Head, Utah covered in snow. Image text reads, "$22,228 median rental revenue. $324,689 median listing price. 4.8% example cap rate."

Often referred to as the “highest resort town in America,” Brian Head sits at 9,800-foot elevation in the Dixie National Forest. Brian Head Resort makes the area a wonderful destination for avid skiers, while hikers can use it as an easy base camp for visits to two popular national parks: Zion and Bryce Canyon. This translates to strong potential for all-season bookings from outdoor enthusiasts.

Some Evolve owners earn more than triple the area’s market median revenue with properties that are within a mile of Brian Head Resort — and many even sit right at the base of a chair lift for premium access to the slopes. They also tend to be larger homes with four to five bedrooms and are predominantly cabins, leaning into the rustic charm of exposed logs, fireplaces, and woodsy furnishings.

Owners just need a standard permit and license to operate here, which is another reason this market ranks as one of the best ski towns for a rental property investment. It’s worth noting the local government requires annual snow removal services for safety — a best practice for winterizing a vacation rental that all owners in snowy areas should add to their routine maintenance checklist.

Image text reads, "The Evolve Difference: Our owners have earned up to $79,296 annually!

12. Pagosa Springs, CO

Aerial photo of Pagosa Springs, Colorado with the sun hitting the tops of mountains during winter. Image text reads, "$32,134 median rental revenue. $539,099 median listing price. 4.2% example cap rate."

Pagosa Springs is located in the rugged San Juan Mountains roughly twenty miles from Wolf Creek Ski Area — a popular destination with an awesome array of trails for any skill level and the “most snow in Colorado.” This laid-back ski town is free of the long lines and hectic crowds you’ll often find in classics like Breckenridge and Vail, making it a uniquely peaceful Colorado getaway for guests. 

Plus, Pagosa Springs has fantastic hot springs, along with a lake, river, and golf course visitors can take advantage of in warmer months. For investors, this means that a property here can capture interest from skiers looking to avoid the stress of crowded tourist areas, as well as those eager to make a return trip in non-snowy seasons. 

With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that top-performing homes in this area cater to multi-season activities. They’re often close to a local body of water and within thirty miles of Wolf Creek Ski Area. They also have three to five bedrooms and outdoor perks like hot tubs or on-site hiking trails. 

According to our experts, operational vacation rentals must have a local contact who lives within 60 miles of Pagosa Springs. There are also zoning and occupancy requirements owners must abide by, so it’s important to work with a professional to make sure your property purchase and rental setup are in compliance.

Need help finding a local contact? Our experts connect savvy vacation rental investors with service partners to keep properties running smoothly all year long.

Buy the Perfect Ski Property with Evolve

Investing in a short-term rental property is a major decision, but you don’t have to navigate the process on your own. Whether you’re drawn to a cozy cabin in the Poconos or a slopeside gem in one of the best ski resorts to buy property (like Vernon Township’s Mountain Creek), our seasoned real estate experts can help you take the next step.

We have the data to inform your investment opportunities and define your income goals, preferred local real estate agents with expertise in vacation rental purchases, and helpful management tools to make your ski property a success once you’re ready to kickstart your business.

For additional research, here are some resources to help you better understand the potential of vacation rental investment:

Now that you’re ready to talk about an investment in one of the best places to buy a ski property, reach out to our team today.

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