In The Spotlight
When the hustle and bustle gets too much down below, Californians head to the hills. And, the state’s ski and snowboard resorts shift into summer gear to provide the thrills, adventures and just plain relaxation that they are looking for.
SnoCountry.com took a look around the Golden Bear State and found examples of the many summer activities that have become standard fare in the Sierra and around the West.
Want to get the family into the woods? Check out Camp High Sierra at Mammoth. The campground has rustic cabins, and spots for tenting or RV-ing – plus myriad of activities including table tennis
Never-ever and novice mountain bike riders can find a comfort zone at Northstar. The resort has group and private lessons for all skill levels. And, a two-day women-only weekend of instruction and riding.
“Summer camp” takes on new meaning at Sugar Bowl. Educators, environmental scientists, world-class mountaineers and guides share their expertise at four different age-group sessions.
Hiking in the mountains remains very popular in the West, and Mt. Baldy gets you to the top. Ride the lift to 7,200 feet, then hit the trail to the 10,069-foot summit of Mt. Baldy – the highest point in the Angeles National Forest.
Many resorts have disc golf courses. One good one is at Mountain High where 27 holes of challenging Frisbee-throwing combines with a 2.5-mile through high country terrain.
Larger resorts have recently consolidated summer activities into a single “park.” Squaw Valley’s High Camp sits on the mountain, an aerial tramway ride away. Once there, choose from hiking, geo-coaching, swimming, roller blading and disc golf.
Ride up the gondola at Heavenly and a world of challenge, thrills and laughs opens up at Epic Discovery. Rope courses, mountain coasters, ziplines, tubing – even gemstone panning – await.
Anglers can find plenty of water in which to toss a line around Lake Tahoe. Some of the best are a trio of lakes near Kirkwood. Bait and fly-fishing spots can be found within a short drive and hike from the mountain.
Many visitors to the mountains simply want to hop on a chair and ride to the top for expansive views and time to relax away from the maddening crowds. Located within two hours’ drive of L.A., Big Bear and Snow Summit offer the simple pleasure of a chairlift ride in the cool summer breezes.
The days have lengthened, the sun is higher in the sky and the wildflowers are out, as Utah’s winter resorts put on their summer best and welcome the offseason.
All manner of entertainment awaits locals and visitors to Utah’s high country – from mountain biking to thrill rides to just plain settin’ and inhaling the cool mountain air. Foodies can get their jones satisfied at dozens of culinary events – like mountaintop Sunday farm-to-table meals at Powder Mountain -- while music junkies will have to hustle to make it through a crowded calendar of outdoor concerts and festivals, including Sundance’s new concert series.
Many of Utah’s 14 ski and snowboard resorts reopen a lift or two for scenic rides and both hiking and biking access. They also focus on keeping the kids occupied with adventure parks, thrill rides and challenges like the new WreckTangle obstacle course at Snowbird.
Up the canyon at Alta, alpine lovers finally can get into wildflower-haven Albion Basin via a chairlift. The Little Cottonwood Canyon mountain will run the Albion lift on weekends and holidays to not only give visitors a taste of above-treeline terrain but also to protect that terrain from too much foot and vehicle travel. And, the Albion Grill will be open seven days a week to slake appetites and thirsts.
Over the ridge, Brighton doesn’t run its lifts in the summer but improved access has put Brighton Lakes within hikers’ reach. Start out at the base of the mountain and choose from more than a dozen routes into four high alpine lakes. Later in the summer, there’s no better place to see wildflowers.
Up north, Utah’s newest ski and snowboard mountain Cherry Peak touts its “redneck water slide” aka Little Bear Bottoms Slide, which has no website or publicity and is merely a backyard sheet laid down a steep slope. On top of that, you have to GPS “5000 S, Hwy 89-91” to find the general location.
Deer Valley has upped its mountain biking game this summer, with a major trail overhaul and a mountain biking school that teaches basic techniques and conducts tours around the mountain.
Next door at Park City Mountain, longer is better with a 3,000-foot alpine slide – reputed to be the longest in U.S. – and 4,000-foot mountain coaster curls down the mountain in the active base area.
A biking trail overhaul also has occurred at Brian Head, which is building a reputation for top-class trail and competitions. Access is both via chairlift and daily shuttle service that begins at the base of the southern Utah mountain.
Make it a multisport adventure at Mammoth. Top-to-bottom shredding continues until least June 17, then add in over 80 miles of single track biking and California's highest golf course to round out a perfect June day.
The Palmer lift is now open at four-season Timberline Lodge in Oregon with glacier skiing to be had into September.
In New Zealand, Mt Hutt is home of the South Island’s highest chair lift and largest lift accessible terrain. Kids 10 and under ski free.
If you’ve got the Mountain Collective, get your summer’s worth at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. Adventure capital Queenstown packs a punch and is hot on the travel bucket list. Coronet Peak offers spectacular views, terrain and back bowls. Across the valley, The Remarkables is renowned for its friendly, relaxed atmosphere and is loved by families, freestylers, extreme skiers and boarders alike.
There’s still plenty of time to plan a trip Down Under to Thredbo, also part of the Mountain Collective. Thredbo boasts Australia’s highest lifted point (2037m), almost double the vertical fall line of any other Australian resort (672m) and the country’s longest runs. Add in a bustling European-styled village and year-round access for back-country enthusiasts, mountain bikers and outdoor adventurers.
Nestled in the Andes and two hours from Santiago, Chile, Ski Portillo offers an all–inclusive resort with a maximum of 450 guests a week, eliminating crowds and lift lines. Portillo is famed for its steeps with easily accessed backcountry terrain.
Chile’s Valle Nevado gets you 7,000 acres of terrain, 90 minutes from Santiago and 9,800 feet high in the Andes Mountains. Find uncrowded slopes and a friendly ambiance, and heli-skiing with runs of up to 5,000 vertical feet. All-inclusive hotel packages and independent condos give you a complete experience.
Nestled in the heart of the Argentinian Andes,1,200 km from Buenos Aires, Las Lenas offers world-class cuisine and first class accommodations with snow operations June through September.
Colorado ski and snowboard resorts took a short break after winter, but they quickly turned their attention to the burgeoning summer season – full of hikes and bikes and thrills of all kinds.
In the past decade, resorts have worked hard to get visitors to come up to altitude. Along with the basic hiking, mountain biking and scenic lifts have come a slew of ziplines, disc and mini golf courses, ropes courses and climbing walls, coasters and alpine slides. Some cluster activities like games, challenges and plain fun in “adventure parks.” Add in yoga, fly-fishing, nature walks and horseback riding, and every minute can be filled while vacationing in the cool mountain air.
Colorado mountains keep adding more to their portfolio of warm-weather diversions. This summer, among the latest attractions is paddle-boarding with yoga at Breckenridge. And, new mountain coasters go into service at Snowmass and Purgatory, which also adds mountain scooters to its offerings.
Golfers can tee it up at a number resorts, and those resorts near rivers hook up with river-running companies for rafting, kayaking and standup paddle-boarding.
SnoCountry.com went looking for some of the more off-beat, innovative choices for summer fun in the Colorado mountains. Here’s what we found:
Breckenridge brings on summer dog sledding. Hook up a golf cart to a team of sled dogs for a group ride through the forest. For the more adventurous, rent a scooter and a pair dogs for a wild ride around the valley.
Over at Keystone, the resort’s crews have saved some snow from the winter season for summer snow tubing. Take a ride up to the top of Dercum Mountain and re-enact winter tubing without the parkas, snow pants or woolen hats. A package deal includes lunch at the top of the mountain.
Head to the southwest corner of the state to Telluride and a host of summer variety. Tops is paragliding. Step out into space with an experienced guide off the top of the gondola for an hour’s flight for a eye-popping view of the ski trails and valley below.
Mountain biking abounds in Colorado, and Winter Park has one of the most extensive networks of trails, ramps, jumps and steeps in the state. All served by lifts, Trestle Park winds all over the mountain with easy, intermediate and difficult routes.
Although Monarch Mountain’s lift are idle for the summer, across U.S. 50 is the Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway – the oldest working tramway in Colorado. Ascend to 12,000 feet of elevation and stand atop the Continental Divide, with horizon-to-horizon views of peaks and vast forests. A web of hiking and biking trails spread out from there.