In the winter, we’re clamoring to get to the nearest mountain for daytime shredding followed by post-après sipping. But these cool ski towns and resorts don’t just fold up shop once the last snowflake of the season descends. Ski towns in the U.S. and Canada pull out all the stops to entice visitors to come in the summer, once the mountains have turned into a tapestry of wildflowers and lakes and rivers thaw.
The low season delivers a plethora of highs. Instead of cruising down a black diamond, you might cruise North America’s longest zipline, embark on a safari or even go cani-hiking — the thrills abound.
Here are our favorite (and unique) summertime ski resort activities and where to stay:
SUNSET OFF-ROADING AND STARGAZING
This two-hour, off-road adventure to the peak of Aspen Mountain invites you to ride on the wild side. At the top, you’ll enjoy the simple magic of a sunset on the Elk Mountain range paired with wine, cheese and charcuterie. Opt to stay a bit longer for a celestial tour of the light-pollution-free night sky via your own astronomy guide.
Where to stay: Just steps from the Silver Queen Gondola, Five-Star The Little Nell has been an Aspen hot spot for more than 30 years. It offers a cozy boutique hotel feel with premium service. Element 47 is destination dining, and wine lovers, you’re in good hands here with a 20,000-plus-bottle collection.
MOUNTAIN BIKING WITH A PRO RACER
PARK CITY, UTAH
Ready to up your biking skills? Head out to explore one of the many majestic mountains of the Wasatch Range with your own pro-athlete biking guide. Shred it on rugged terrain or take it easy on gentle trails — you decide.
Where to stay: Guests of Five-Star Montage Deer Valley have special access to professional athlete guides for multiple sports — like fly fishing followed by a wine pairing and picnic — via its partnership with Adventure IO. After a day perfecting your alpine two-wheel finesse, give tired muscles some well-deserved care at the hotel’s stunning Spa Montage Deer Valley.
Home to the longest zipline in North America, Ziptrek Ecotour’s Sasquatch tour will make your adrenaline rush as you soar under the peak-to-peak gondola, which links the Whistler and Blackcomb mountain peaks. The zipline is more than a mile long and 7,000 feet high.
Where to stay: Four-Star Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler is a five-minute drive to the Ziptrek Ecotours. Summer highlights include the Vintage Patio Camper serving up complimentary daily happy hour ice cream, Thursday’s Four Seasons BBQ and a Taste of Mexico in Whistler cocktail hour in Braidwood Tavern’s Bar on Fridays and Saturdays for creative margaritas designed by a bartender from Mexico City.
SUNSET VIA FERRATA
TAOS, NEW MEXICO
New in 2022, you can watch the sunset at 11,550 feet over New Mexico’s Kachina Peak with a trek on Taos Ski Valley’s via ferrata, a hike-and-climb adventure. Beginners and experts are welcome to traverse this three-hour challenge of mental and physical endurance. Highlights include a 100-foot skybridge and double-cable catwalk, under guided supervision and supported by a strong network of cables, of course. Sunset via ferrata sessions are available Friday and Saturday evenings, otherwise, tours are available daily in the morning and afternoon.
Where to stay: Check out The Blake at Taos Ski for alpine-meets-Southwest-styled rooms, vacation rentals and penthouses. Every weekend in the summer, The Blake hotel hosts special events near lift No. 1 in the upper plaza, with everything from yoga classes and movie screenings to live music and youth concerts on the agenda.
You may have experienced dog sledding in the winter, but the canines can also lead you on a picturesque hike in the summer. Cani-hiking allows these handsome huskies to be employed year-round. Put on a waist belt with a long leash and the dog helps you along. During the two-hour excursion, you’ll learn how to fasten the dog’s harness (and yours), enjoy a 45-minute forest hike and make a quick pit stop for dogs and hikers alike to rehydrate. When you return, you’ll get some playtime with the puppies in the husky kennel.
Where to stay: On the banks of one of Quebec’s most iconic lakes, Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hôtel Quintessence is a 30-room boutique gem at the base of Mont-Tremblant. Summer affords you the chance to revel in the stunning, verdant naturescape, plus there are plenty of other outdoor adventures, such as splashing in the sparkling lake via paddleboard or canoe.
NATIONAL PARK SAFARI
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Just like Africa has its big five must-see animals on safari, America has a big five, too. Find out what they are on a half- or full-day safari in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. As you search for animals, you’ll also explore the inner world of either park and discover secret waterfalls, streams and lakes.
Where to stay: Book a safari with your concierge at the Four-Star Hotel Jackson, a hip, modern hotel just steps from Jackson Hole’s happening town square. Hotel Jackson’s 50 rooms are each uniquely decorated to reflect the Western vibe using natural stone, leather, reclaimed barn wood, metal and wool. The hotel can pack to-go breakfasts and lunches for your safari, but be sure to enjoy a Lebanese-Mediterranean meal at its FIGS restaurant later.
SKI AMUSEMENT PARK
High up in the Smoky Mountains, Ober Gatlinburg transforms from a ski resort to an amusement park. One of its most popular rides since opening in 1976 is summertime bobsledding, also known as alpine sliding, where you dart down on carts and control the speed by a push-and-pull lever. Measuring more than a mile, it’s one of America’s longest; however, it’s perfectly safe for kids ages five and up.
Where to stay: Earning Four-Star awards for both the restaurant and the inn, the 4,200-acre Blackberry Farm is an incredible respite providing excellent food and luxury amid verdant nature. Roughly an hour or less away from Blackberry Farm, Smoky Mountains National Park and Ober Gatlinburg are an easy day trip.
MT. VAN HOEVENBERG, NEW YORK
A former Winter Olympic bobsledding track, the Cliffside Mountain Coaster on Mt. Van Hoevenberg is Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex’s newest attraction. Stretching 1.4 miles, it holds the new record for the longest mountain coaster in North America. The views are astounding with thrills to match.
Where to stay: The family-friendly amenities at Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid are worth the visit alone. The on-property movie theater, catch-and-release trout pond, bowling alley and game room will keep kids of all ages happy. Throw in a trip to Mt. Van Hoevenberg, roughly a 15-minute drive away, and you’ve got a perfect family vacation.
Visit the mountains to keep the kiddos outdoors and entertained. Breckenridge Ski Resort transforms into an incredible summertime playland for children of all ages at Epic Discovery on Peak 8. Epic Discovery is home to an alpine coaster, an alpine slide, rock climbing, a giant trampoline, a bouncy house and gemstone mining.
Where to stay: The Grand Colorado on Peak 8 is steps from this outdoor wonderland of fun. Plus, the resort’s activities — such as building your own stuffed animal, scavenger hunts, fairy house painting, s’more roasting and a pool with a curly slide — keep kids happy from the time they wake until bedtime, every parent’s dream come true.