While skiing is the lure that draws people to mountain towns, summer is often what keeps them there forever. When the snow melts, the slopes turn from white to green, enticing bikers back to the singletrack, fishermen to the clear, deep lakes and kayakers and rafters to the roaring, run-off fed rivers. These nine getaways not only will make you a mountain-summer addict for life, but also offer great savings over winter prices. (Rates are based on double occupancy).
Topping the summer getaway list is Robert Redford's Sundance in Utah, just 47 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. A typical summer's day at the 6,000-acre utopia could include hiking and horseback riding in the Wasatch Range, flyfishing in the adjacent Provo River or attending a workshop for budding playwrights. The guest cabins, built of indigenous pine, cedar, fir and stone, are the last word in tranquility. The lodge's ambiance is defined by leather club chairs, fireplaces and Native American rugs. Enjoy a drink by a piñon fire until you're lured to The Tree Room by the smells of fine cooking. At day's end, settle in for a summer stock production of Gypsy, a screening of an independent film or Redford's classic Downhill Racer. Or simply snuggle under a blanket on the porch of your cabin and take in the sunset and the night air. Rates start at $175 per room, per night, and include breakfast for two in the Foundry Grill. There are additional costs for activities such as horseback riding and guided flyfishing. Call (800) 892-1600.
Luxury At Half The Price
At Beaver Creek, there's no shortage of summer activities. During the day, you can golf, raft, flyfish, mountain bike, horseback ride or hike, while the kids make friends at day camp. At night, relax at a classical concert or dance performance at the new Vilar Center, or burn off more energy skating at the year-round ice rink. But it's not just the activities and splendid weather that make Beaver Creek attractive during the warm months-it's also the sharply discounted summer rates. At The Charter, one of town's finer hotel and condominium complexes, for example, a lodge room runs $135 per night in summer, versus a winter high of $350. Amenities include the use of Spa Struck-a new 10,000-square-foot health club and full-service spa. Call (800) 525-6660.
Those who love skinny skis and heli-skiing come to the elegantly rustic Freestone Inn and Cabins in Mazama, Wash., when the snow flies. But in summer, it's the mountain biking and hiking in North Cascades National Park that beckon. The Early Winters Creek runs through the wooded property that surrounds a 12-room inn, two log homes and nine new and six historic cabins. Logs harvested in Montana and river-rock fireplaces set the tone. Take a dip in the five-acre lake or amble over to the nearby Methow or Chewuch rivers to cast for rainbow trout. You can also try guided rock climbing ($75 all day) close to the Freestone. Summer rates range from $100-$325 per unit, including a deluxe continental breakfast. Dinner runs about $26 per person, not including one of those fine Washington vintages. Call (800) 639-3809.
Rancho De Luxe
Whether you prefer whitewater rafting, a trail ride, a morning of flyfishing or a late afternoon massage, the 18-cabin Triple Creek Ranch is your retreat. Located in western Montana's Bitteroot Mountains, the Triple Creek provides a quiet and upscale getaway. There's a tennis court, a heated pool and a central lodge with dining room, library and lounge, so you could hardly describe this ranch living as "roughing it." Triple Creek is for well-seasoned adult travelers, and it's all-inclusive: All drinks and meals are covered in the daily rate of $475 per couple. Call (406) 821-4600.
Backroads is the world leader in biking and walking tours, and its new, five-night inn-to-inn trip in the Lake Tahoe area will appeal to anyone who wants aa multi-sport adventure in a spectacular mountain setting. You'll spend most of your time navigating a bike through Northstar-at-Tahoe's mountain bike park, the Tahoe National Forest and along the famous Flume Trail. But there's also time for kayaking on Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe and a late afternoon hike or two to stretch your muscles. Included in the $1,598 per person price are accommodations at the Northstar Hotel, Plump Jack Hotel and the Sunnyside Hotel, and all meals. The daily riding distances on this "moderately easy" trip range from 5 to 25 miles. Call (800) 462-2848.
Cedar Breaks Lodge at Brian Head in Utah is well located for exploring some of the finest mountain biking terrain in the world. You can take day trips to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and the Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks boasts 100 miles of downhill singletrack and some 60 miles of backcountry Forest Service roads. The recently renovated lodge offers a two-night mountain biking package for $125 per person, which includes accommodations, passes for the chairlift to the trailhead and shuttle service to the mountain from Cedar Breaks Lodge. Those looking for pampering can de-stress at the Cedar Breaks Day Spa, where massages ($60/hour), yoga and a Jacuzzi are on the menu. Call (888) 282-3327.
The C Lazy U, 95 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, may be the ultimate dude ranch. It has a classic lodgepole pine lodge, private cabins and plenty of horses. But you'll also find a racquetball court, whirlpool and swimming pond, as well as three children's programs that target kids by age (3-5, 6-12 and teens). Hayrides, cookouts, fishing, guided rides and a weekly "shodeo" bring families together and also give them room to move. C Lazy U's food, service and ambiance have earned it Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings, a rarity for a dude ranch. The $1,750 per person rate (less $200 for kids under six) includes all meals and activities for seven nights, except for rafting and riding instruction. Call (970) 887-3344.
A Summer Place
For generations, families have headed to Northern New England mountains to celebrate summer. The Tyler Place Family Resort on Lake Champlain, about an hour north of Burlington, Vt., has been operating its hearty full-American plan for more than 60 years. The 165-acre resort has an inn, heated pools and more than a mile of shoreline on Lake Champlain. It's a good place, in other words, for windsurfing, canoeing, biking, kayaking and tennis. It also offers free Sunfish sailing instruction and children's programs. Families can stay at the inn or in one of 27 charming white clapboard cottages with fireplaces. Cottages start at $107 per adult, per day, with charges for children running from $47 to $81 per day. Prices cover virtually everything. Call (802) 868-4000.
Steve Shephard says he can tell whether a rafting company is any good by the way it packs a raft. His Salmon River Outfitters not only packs a good raft for a six-day float trip down Idaho's Salmon River, but packs a culinary wallop, as well. After a warm day floating down the river, enjoy fresh salmon poached in vermouth, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs, grilled beef tenderloin and strawberry rhubarb cobbler. Is it any wonder that Shephard is credited with inventing the gourmet rafting trip more than 20 years ago? It's not a white-knuckle white-water experience, but a navigable 80-mile jaunt with sightings of coyotes, osprey, mountain lions and bald eagles. And the legendary group soak in Barth Hot Springs is a treat. But wilderness lovers, beware: The memories of the Idaho wilds you'll take home are more likely to be of gruyere soufflés than of grizzly bears. Rates from $1,195 include all meals, wine and transfers. Call (800) 346-6204.