Visiting Winter Park only in the winter is like looking at the world with one eye closed: You're missing half the picture. Colorado's most laid-back major ski resort is even more homespun in summer. And that's how the locals like it. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is just a bad TV rerun in the Fraser Valley, not a community goal. So go ahead, goose your inner child on Colorado's longest alpine slide ($8 per ride). Then join the local adrenaline junkies-who bash the best bumps in the state all winter-as they pound the 50 miles of lift-served mountain bike trails all summer. Not a cyclist? You aren't lacking options: Hike to the high-alpine Columbine Lake or play the 27-hole championship Pole Creek Golf Club course.
The rap against Winter Park has always been its second-rate base area. That's changed with the new village, anchored by the Zephyr Lodge. Here you'll find service without snobbery.
Come check out the JVC Winter Park Jazz Fest (July 14-15), KBCO RockFest (July 21-22) and Rocky Mountain Wine, Beer and Food Festival (Aug. 8-11). Or just sit back and sip a Fat Tire Ale on the Sunspot's summit deck or the riverbank patio of the Gasthaus Eichler-then contemplate who's wiser: you or somebody fighting the crowds at one of Colorado's "name-brand" resorts.
DON'T MISS The "What's That Pipe?" tour, a one-hour walk of the historic water diversion and railroad projects that helped create the resort. Cost: $5. Call 970-726-1616.
BEST DEAL With the Mountain Bike Madness package, you get two nights' lodging, a two-day bike rental and a lift pass for $186 per person. Call 800-729-5813, or visit www.skiwinterpark.com.