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Backcountry

5 Places You Can Earn Your Turns in July That Aren’t in South America

Ski season goes year-round in the U.S. if you know where to look. Leave the crowded hiking trails and get some turns at these locations.

It’s summertime, and that means most people have retired their skis to the basement to collect dust while they’re out tearing up the trails on mountain bikes. There’s nothing wrong with that—mountain biking is fun and all—but it’s not skiing.

If you are willing to hike a little bit farther into the backcountry and dig a little deeper, it’s possible to satisfy that skiing itch in July while also escaping the summer heat. So get those ski boots ready to boot-pack because now is the time to put in some effort and find those elusive summer routes to ski.

Here are some of the best places to ski in the USA this July, and, if you’re lucky, even deeper into the summer.

Leavitt Peak, Calif.

  • Level: Intermediate

A favorite of the Pacific Crest Trail, Leavitt Peak stands at 11,569 feet above sea level. It sits off the scenic Sonora Pass, which, at 9,624 feet, is the second-highest highway pass in the Sierra Nevada Range. This popular access point offers skiers a great day-long option to gain some prime July ski lines. From the trailhead, you can head due south up the ridgeline towards Leavitt Peak with its distinct Y-shaped couloir wedged between rock and snow. The peak is the highest point on Sonora Pass and upon reaching it, you will be rewarded with both great views and sweet summer ski laps.

Want to get updates on how much snow is at these spots? Use this app to see recent satellite images of snow cover.

Apache Peak, Colo.

  • Level: Novice to Advanced

Tucked away in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and just two hours from Denver, this massive 13,441-foot peak dominates the region. Home to the San Isabelle Glacier to the north, Fair Glacier to the west, and the Navajo Snowfield to the south, this towering peak cradles snow and offers some great summer skiing in July. Make your way up the broad Isabelle Glacier to escape the crowds and heat and gain the peak for stunning views of the Indian Peaks. You have the option to ski a few laps on the Glacier or consider Apache Couloir if there is still enough snow in it.

Related: This Smartwatch Will Improve Your Ski Day From the Chairlift to the Backcountry

Beartooth Basin, Mont.

  • Level: Novice through Expert

A favorite of locals looking for some summer skiing, Beartooth Basin is off of Beartooth Pass, a scenic road on the Wyoming and Montana border in the Shoshone National Forest. Home to a ski area that usually opens around Memorial Day weekend, any skier will immediately see the potential playground of options in this area. To avoid the crowds, check out the swooping Rock Creek or Gardner Headwalls, which loom large and adjacent to the highway—both areas offer some fantastic summer lines. Simply hike or skin in from the parking lot across the plateau to the top of the headwall. Drop in and enjoy the steep skiing, then hitchhike or boot-pack back to the top to do it again.

Beartooth Basin was prominently featured in Warren Miller Entertainment’s Line of Descent. Outside+ members can watch it for free (and the entire Warren Miller Film archive).

Mount Hood, Ore.

"Eric Pollard slash at Mt. Hood"
Eric Pollard smacks the lip at Mt. Hood Photo: Josh Malczyk
  • Level: Intermediate – Expert

Perhaps the most famous mountain on the list, Mount Hood looms large just 90 minutes outside of Portland. Oregon’s tallest volcanic peak—11,250 feet above sea level—holds a variety of backcountry skiing options, but in July it is hard to beat Snowdome. This route traverses west across the expansive Eliot Glacier, the largest glacier in Oregon, and provides access to Snowdome’s 2,000-foot snowfield as your ski canvas. Make sure you have your mountaineering equipment as the route crosses glacial crevasses and icy terrain. For your effort, you will be rewarded with solitude and perhaps even some summer corn snow.

Get some lift-accessed turns too: How to Ski Tour up Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge

Mount Daniel, Wash.

  • Level: Expert

Sitting at 7,960 feet, Mount Daniels is the tallest peak in central Washington. The jagged mountain is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Cascade Range and is home to five summits and several glaciers. You are sure to get some spectacular views of surrounding peaks and lakes on your hike from the Cathedral Rock trailhead. Daniel Glacier, on the north side of the mountain, offers some good skiing options well into July. With solid 1,000-plus foot runs, you are sure to get the most skiing for your hard work here.

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