Summer Resorts 2001- Southern Rockies, Vail, Colo.

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Every year, Vail competes with Whistler, B.C., for the top spot in SKI's October Reader Resort Survey. Last year, it won again-and that was just for the merits of its winter scene. Nearby rivers, lakes and a broad range of amenities make Vail an equally great destination in summer.

When you're not shopping the European-style pedestrian village, you can hike or bike the mountain's 50-plus miles of trails or hit the links on one of the valley's 16 golf courses. Got an itch to experience something new? Try clay shooting, cattle driving or river rafting. Novice and experienced boaters can test their skills at the new Vail Whitewater Park on Gore Creek.

Vail is also a culturalist's paradise with its many dance, art,culinary and music events, featuring some of the hottest jazz musicians, chamber music and full orchestras. This summer, the outdoor Ford Amphitheater is drawing big names, including The Dixie Chicks and Cajun blues singer Tab Benoit.

For the younger visitor, Vail's Adventure Camp offers kids (ages 5-12) rock climbing, rafting, mini golf and access to Adventure Ridge atop the Eagle Bahn Gondola. There, kids can mountain bike, take a guided nature hike, play Frisbee golf, join a volleyball game or speed down the mountain on a Thrill Sled. As your kids will attest, if you can't do it in the Vail Valley in summer, then you don't need to do it.

DON'T MISS Smooth jazz and an even smoother "Mud Slide" at Platz'l.

BEST DEAL For $499 per person, you can enjoy four nights' lodging in a studio condominium with mountain views, a four-day car rental from Denver (includes unlimited mileage) and round-trip airfare to and from Denver International Airport (rates may vary based upon departure city). Not valid July 4. Call 800-404-3535, or visit www.vail.com.