The Appeal of Living in the Mountain West’s Beautiful State Capitals

Sawtooth Mountains | Image credit: Perry Kibler

Although some state capitals aren’t necessarily the state’s largest city or most-visited tourist destination, they are usually cultural centers. The scenic state capitals in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah have cultural and economic significance. 

Residents of these state capitals can enjoy plenty of lifestyle benefits; let’s look at what makes them such appealing places to live. 

Yellowstone National Park

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah’s biggest city, is a rapidly growing hub near the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains. This historical city has a growing economy, an emerging technology sector, and a food scene defined by its excellent farm-to-table offerings. The city is also home to City Creek Center, the state’s top upscale shopping center, and live show venues, such as the famed Capitol Theatre.

Residents of Salt Lake City also enjoy proximity to some of the best ski destinations in the country, including Alta, Brighton, and Snowbird, which makes it an exciting place to live, even during the state’s frigid winters.

City Creek Center | Image credit: Melanie Macias

Helena, Montana

Helena is a relatively small city for a state capital, yet Montana has few sprawling urban metropolises. Helena rose to prominence during the state’s gold rush, and today it is a scenic historical community with lively bars, local restaurants, and museums. Outdoor enthusiasts can benefit from the 75 miles of trails that run through the city’s downtown and surrounding areas. Also, the city is convenient to Yellowstone National Park, one of the world’s most famous protected nature areas. 

Helena | Image credit: Sophie Van Luvanee

Boise, Idaho

Boise stands out to residents who enjoy both an urban area and plenty of natural sites to explore. Its population and economy have surged over the past several years; the establishment of Micron and Clearwater Analytics has helped boost Boise’s technology industry. It has long been known for its hip atmosphere, with lively bars and an abundance of delicious dining destinations. Boise State University gives the city a college-town feel. 

The outdoor sites in and around Boise make it one of the best places to live in the Mountain West. The Boise River Greenbelt, a vast network of trails and parks, runs along the Boise River. Nature lovers, thrill seekers, and photographers would also enjoy the Sawtooth Mountains.

Boise | Image credit: Click Sluice

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne is a relatively small city that began to boom during the frontier days. Plenty of preserved historical buildings retain the city’s Wild West aesthetic. Cheyenne also has many world-class museums detailing its history, including the Wyoming State Museum and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. 

In terms of food, due to its proximity to ranchland, Cheyenne is known for its meat options. The city also hosts many events, such as rodeos and other festivals. Cheyenne’s location at the base of the Rocky Mountains makes it a hub for outdoor enthusiasts as well. 

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo | Image credit: Joseph Keil
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