Summer Resorts 2001- Northern Rockies, Big Mountain, Mont.

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A Big Mountain summer covers so much territory it helps to survey it over a slice of fresh huckleberry pie from the Summit House on top of the ski area. Stellar views include the surrounding tumult of mountains and their wide array of horseback riding, backpacking, climbing and flyfishing. Strike out in any direction for fun. Due east 25 miles are the ragged peaks of Glacier National Park, home to scenic drives and hikes and heavily populated by mountain goats and bears. Immediately to the south are Whitefish and Flathead lakes, which offer boating, waterskiing, swimming and waterfront dining.

Big Mountain itself features wonderful hiking, assisted by the Glacier Chaser lift, along with 20-plus miles of maintained mountain-biking trails, and 3,000 feet of adrenaline-laced "Thrill Sleds" track. Tamer options include free horse-drawn wagon rides, wildflower walks with a Forest Service guide and abundant nearby golf. The famous Eagle Bend course on Flathead Lake is a must-play, as are the 36 holes at the Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

The Big Mountain's biggest summer attraction of all, however, may be the charming and authentic western town of Whitefish, just eight miles away. Equal parts ranching community and resort, it combines a relaxed rural atmosphere with wonderful cultural assets such as live theater and music at the Whitefish Theatre Company.

DON'T MISS Carnivore skulls and historic photos in the U.S. Forest Service Educational Center at the Summit House.

BEST DEAL Three nights' lodging, unlimited lift rides, a two-hour trail ride, a half-day of whitewater rafting and a Summit View lunch, starting at $231 per person. Call 800-858-4157, or visit www.bigmtn.com.