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Every single ski-town local who’s being honest will tell you that they came for the winters, but stayed for the summers. If you haven’t ventured back to one of your favorite ski resorts during the non-snowy months, man are you missing out. From high-altitude hikes among wildflowers to bombing over berms and rocks on a downhill mountain bike, ski resorts are jam-packed with things to do all summer long. And not just the adrenaline-inducing stuff (though there’s plenty of that, too.). Ride a mountain coaster. Try disc golf. Take a ride on a scenic zip line. Or just tool around on a bike, grab some lunch, and go shopping. Summer life at the resorts operates at every speed.
Not sure where to go? That’s where we come in. SKI has complied summer destination guides to every major ski state in the U.S. In other words, it couldn’t be easier to make one last outing before the sun sets on summer.
California’s 840 miles of coastline get all the love in the summertime, but the real stars of the show are the mountain ranges, where the air is crisp, the skies are clear, and the pine trees smell divine. The state’s ski resorts that inhabit these glorious peaks are far from sleepy during their relative off season. Rather, these adventure meccas are brimming with lift-served mountain biking and hiking, mountain coasters, zip lines, golf, kid’s diversion, and more. These five California resorts serve it all, no complicated details involved.
- Squaw Alpine: Hiking is free and extensive at both base areas—start your journey at Squaw and ride the Aerial Tram to High Camp at 8,200 feet. From there, the two mountains’ trail networks are easily accessible for any and all levels of hiking, accentuated with waterfalls, wildflower meadows, and dramatic lake views.
- Northstar: The resort’s lift-serviced bike park is the largest in Northern California, featuring 33 trails of mixed terrain for all ranges of ability levels. The lake and valley views from the extensive trail network are not to be missed.
- Mammoth: A Via Ferrata guided climbing course offers an adrenaline-fueled way to take in the views while getting your daily workout in. There are six routes that progress in difficulty.
- Heavenly: The resort features the Ridge Rider mountain coaster with some unbeatable views, sending riders swerving around rocks and trees, with the deep-blue lake visible in the distance.
- Big Bear: Kayak or stand-up paddleboard on Big Bear Lake, or take a fishing tour. Or just spend time with your feet in the cool water of an alpine lake.
With so much terrain and views that never end, it would be a shame to not visit Colorado’s ski resorts in the summer months. While most of them offer the requisite hiking and mountain biking, so many have added innovative, family-friendly activities over the last few summers, from treetop zip-line tours and mountain coasters to gem panning at bungee rides in the base village. Whether you’re coming to the mountains seeking adrenaline-fueled adventure or just wanting to entertain the tots, these six ski areas transform into veritable summer hotspots where there’s more to do than you can shake a golf club at.
- Vail Mountain: Get an Epic Discovery pass and get access to all of the attractions: a bungee trampoline, adventure ropes courses, mini golf, climbing tower, Nature Discovery Center, summer tubing, and mountain coaster.
- Winter Park: WP is one of the state’s mountain biking meccas. Over 600 miles of mountain bike trails extend around the resort and surrounding areas, offering prime riding of both the downhill and cross-country variety. Trestle Bike Park is Colorado’s premier downhill mountain bike park, with over 45 lift-accessed trails complete with jumps, berms, and technical options. First-timers can get their wheels under them on gentle green trails at the bottom of the bike park.
- Purgatory: Adrenaline junkies can get their fixes with the Inferno Mountain Coaster, a 4,000-foot alpine rollercoaster twisting steeply around the mountain face. Alternately, there is a lift-accessed alpine slide that sends riders soaring down a half-mile descent.
- Crested Butte: There’s hiking for days thanks to the miles of trails accessible for guided or unguided hikes, where guests can explore the slopes while the Elk Mountain Range towers in the distance. And don’t miss CB’s legendary mountain biking trails, which are some of the best in the country.
- Telluride: Take a swing at one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, located at the Telluride Golf Club; the 18-hole, par-70 course is nestled between the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in the United States.
- Aspen Snowmass: Explore the Lost Forest, a family-friendly collection of activities and attractions located at Elk Camp at Snowmass, including an alpine coaster, ropes challenges, and a climbing wall.
Summer in the city has its perks, but fresh air and room to spread out are not among them. Here’s an easy fix: Head to one of the ski resorts of Vermont, Massachusetts, upstate New York, New Hampshire, or Maine to get your mountain fix. These resorts have a fun mix of family diversions, good lodging and dining, and a kick-ass calendar of events with something for everyone.
- Killington, Vt.: Feeling adventurous? Take on the 30-foot bungee-assisted freefall tower, a 42-foot obstacle ropes course, or a dual zip line racer. Or board the Soaring Eagle, a two-person, chairlift-style ride that sends you flying 100 feet above the resort at 30 mph.
- Sugarloaf, Maine: Grab a trail map and head out on a hike; the resort is snaked with miles of maintained trails including a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
- Bretton Woods, N.H.: Enjoy the 12-minute gondola ride on the Bretton Woods Skyway and enjoy a sit-down meal at Switchback Grille or grab a snack at Peaks Cafe.
- Berskshire East, Mass.: Glide a mountain bike over well-maintained downhill and cross-country trails, or get serious in the Thunder Mountain Bike Park on the progression bike trail system, with blue through black runs for the experienced mountain biker.
- Whiteface, N.Y.: Board the CloudSplitter Gondola for views of the Adirondack High Peaks. Bring a picnic and linger over those views at the summit.
With the ideal combo of soaring peaks and wending rivers, Utah is a summer outdoor paradise. What’s more, its mountain resorts are incredibly accessible, making them the perfect adventure to embark on before autumn comes around. The resorts transform into mountain playgrounds with coasters, zip lines, mountain biking, lift-served hiking and more, and are great family destinations for easy adventures and turnkey vacations. These five resorts offer it all, and a little bit more.
- Park City: Board the Red Pine Gondola for scenic views of the Wasatch Mountains and a lift up to hiking and biking trails. Over 20 miles of cross-country mountain biking is open for riders of all levels.
- Snowbird: For open-air travel to the peaks, the Peruvian chairlift ascends 2,400 vertical feet for a 16-minute ride, transporting sightseers and hikers to the mountain’s trails.
- Sundance: Fly though the air on a zip tour, which sends adventurers soaring over 2,100 feet across the valley at speeds over 65 mph.
- Deer Valley: Six peaks and 70 miles of trails are available to adventurous mountain bikers of all levels. Many of these lift-serviced trails connect with Park City’s extensive single-track mountain biking network, offering over 400 miles of terrain to explore. On Tuesdays, riders have the opportunity to ride throughout the twilight hours, as lift-served trails stay open from 4 to 8 p.m.
- Snowbasin: The 18-hole Wildflower Mini Golf course is Snowbasin’s newest family-friendly summer activity. Rounds can be purchased for $10 at the Grizzly Center.