Summer can be a great time to visit ski resorts. The weather is usually glorious, and there are numerous outdoor activities, festivals and cultural offerings aimed at attracting visitors and entertaining locals. In this generally slower time of year, hotels offer discounts — even free nights midweek with multi-day stays — until the snow returns. Some ski resorts also run sports camps and meetings for groups and companies. Here's a rundown on what some areas across the West offer during the warm months:
When my oldest son and I visited Mammoth (www.mammothmountain.com, www.visitmammoth.com) several summers ago, we took mountain bikes up the gondola to its 11,053-foot summit and soaked in the 360-degree vistas that included the John Muir and Ansel Adams wilderness areas. New at the top is Explore Mammoth, described as an "immersive learning adventure." It features guided hikes, a movie theater and museum that will have its grand opening July 4.
After enjoying the scenery, we zipped down to the village, falling only a time or two. Once there, we rode on some of the Bike Park's 80-plus miles of professionally maintained single- and double-track trails. Cyclists of all abilities, including families with young kids, can take advantage of the many routes and canopied rest and water stops. There is uphill transportation from town on the Bike Shuttle and high-speed access to the middle and upper mountain on chairlifts.
Golfers who want to try one of California's highest 18-hole courses should head for Mammoth's Sierra Star, which has tree-lined fairways, well-trapped greens and numerous lakes, ponds, waterfalls and streams — perfect for losing balls. The par 70 course covers 6,708 yards and was crafted by noted golf-course architect Cal Olson.
Nearby, there are excellent places for trout fishing, including Crowley Lake, the Upper Owens River and Hot Creek, among others. For details, go to www.thetroutfitter.com.
Then there's the Adventure Center, which is fun for kids of all ages. It has a 32-foot-tall climbing wall, and you can also get some thrills on its zip-line course or do some trampoline and bungee jumping.
For those with a musical bent, the town of Mammoth sponsors a Jazz Jubilee (www.mammothjazz.org) July 16-20. Then there's the Unbound Chamber Music Festival, July 23-Aug. 8. Theater lovers can celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday as the Sierra Classic Theatre (www.sierraclassictheatre.com) presents "A (Mammoth) Midsummer Night's Dream" on Aug. 8-10 and 15-17.
At Northstar, the mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton Hotel (www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LakeTahoe) offers a diverse range of activities from cooking classes to cookouts to star-gazing tours. Hiking trails and mountain biking are right out the hotel's backdoor. Just 15 minutes from the resort, daily kayak and stand-up paddle boarding excursions on Lake Tahoe are offered by guides at Tahoe Adventure Co. (www.tahoeadventurecompany.com). For golfers, preferred access and tee times are offered on two championship golf courses, Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing, both 15 minutes away.
If you're headed to Squaw Valley (www.bit.ly/Ucf2E8), be sure to take a ride on the resort's scenic aerial tram, which rises 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp, at an elevation of 8,200 feet. Once on top, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Tahoe as well as access to a variety of activities, including swimming in a mountaintop pool, roller skating, geo-caching, tennis, hiking, disc golf and a ropes course. And every Tuesday, there are free blues concerts.
Sugar Bowl Resort (www.sugarbowl.com) runs a variety of kids' camps, where youngsters can participate in rock climbing, swimming and painting. For adults, there's wellness yoga and wine tasting. At Homewood (www.skihomewood.com), on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, you'll find bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent. Homewood also has the Farm to Peak Dinner Series (July 5, Aug. 9 and Aug. 30) featuring mountaintop outdoor dining with a five-course meal with seasonal cuisine and great views of Lake Tahoe.
Park City, Utah
Outdoor concerts and music festivals abound around Park City (www.parkcityinfo.com) in venues ranging from the outdoor amphitheater at the Deer Valley Resort, where my family and I took in a reggae concert, to the grassy lawn at the oddly named Ski Beach at the Canyons Resort, to a club on historic Main Street.
Visitors can listen to singers such as Kenny Rogers and Mary Chapin Carpenter perform with the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Music Festival (July 4-Aug. 9), or hear the Bacon Brothers at the Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series, which features 10 shows June 28-Aug. 30.
Hikers love the Park City area's 200-plus miles of public trails for walking and biking. Some are relatively flat and paved, while others lead through steep and rocky terrain. All of the area ski resorts offer lift-served hiking through the summer.
When guests make a reservation at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, (www.beavercreek.hyatt.com), they get a list of 10 outdoor Great Adventure Package possibilities, including mountain biking, white-water rafting, fly fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, clay target shooting and all-terrain-vehicle outings. They can ice skate in the middle of the summer or play tennis too. And when their muscles get sore, there's a massage at the Allegria Spa.
Beaver Creek (www.Beavercreek.com) offers free movies under the stars, plus arts and wine festivals, Aug. 2 and 3 and Aug. 8-10, respectively. And there are Wednesday night music concerts at the resort, chair lift rides and rodeos in nearby Avon.
At neighboring Vail (www.vail.com), you can take in the resort's International Dance Festival on July 27-Aug. 9 and see some of the world's greatest artists. Now in its 26th season, the festival is directed by former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel and will feature Argentine ballet superstar Herman Cornejo and tango artists Gabriel Missé and Analía Centurión.
For foodies, Vail offers three-hour Vail Valley Food Tours (www.vailvalleyfoodtours.com) to restaurants such as La Bottega, Terra Bistro and La Tour.
In Aspen (www.aspenchamber.org), in addition to cycling, hiking, rafting and numerous other outdoor activities, the resort has a new climbing area at Gold Butte. For culture lovers, the town has ballet, theater and opera. Come August, the Aspen Art Museum will have a new home in the 33,000-square-foot Shigeru Ban-designed building at the corner of South Spring Street and Hyman Avenue. And in Breckenridge (www.gobreck.com), you can ride on a vintage train, take a guided historical museum tour, go summer dog sledding or get above it all with a hot-air balloon ride.
Down in Telluride (www.visittelluride.com), in the southwest corner of Colorado, there's a plethora of outdoor activities in which visitors can partake, including Jeep tours to abandoned silver mines near the summit of Imogene Pass, elevation 13,114 feet.
When my family visited several summers ago, we hiked in flower-filled meadows, went horseback riding at the nearby Circle K Ranch and rode the resort's cable cars from our mid-mountain lodging down into the eclectic town. But what makes Telluride special are the myriad festivals that happen almost every weekend through the summer and fall. Telluride is known as the "Festival Capital of the Southwest," with gatherings that celebrate wine, yoga, theater, jazz, chamber music, beer, film and more.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
At Jackson Hole Resort (www.jacksonhole.com), Grand Teton National Park is only a stone's throw. And Yellowstone is just about 50 miles away. Be sure to take the aerial tram to the top of the resort's slopes. In 15 minutes, you'll rise 4,139 vertical feet from the base of Teton Village to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.
Once there, you'll have a stunning 360-degree view of the Snake River Valley, Grand Teton National Park and the Gros Ventre Range in the distance. Even the summit of the 13,776-foot Grand Teton peak seems close. You'll find hiking trails at the tram's upper terminal offering access to wilderness beyond the resort's boundaries.
Visitors can go mountain biking, white-water rafting, trout fishing in the national parks or go (gulp) team paragliding and soar high above the resort's Teton Village.
Guests at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole (www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole) can go on a wildlife safari with a biologist to Yellowstone, gaze at stars with an astronomer, learn how to cook elk or bison in huckleberry sauce or get a Shoshone language and craft lesson. Likewise, concierges at the Hotel Terra (www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com) and Teton Mountain Lodge (www.tetonlodge.com) are happy to set up cycling, horseback riding, hiking, golf and other activities.
At Whistler-Blackcomb Resort (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) in British Columbia, the ski and snowboard season isn't over until, well, July 27 on Blackcomb Mountain's Horstman Glacier, home to numerous snow-sports camps. Even if you don't plan to ski or ride, be sure to take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which spans a nearly 2-mile-wide valley and connects Whistler Mountain's Roundhouse Lodge with Blackcomb Mountain's Rendezvous Lodge.
Visitors can also visit an active bear den on a naturalist tour, go zip-lining through an old-growth forest or ride (like my son and I did on a visit) in one of the scarier mountain bike parks in North America. You can also enjoy a mountain-top barbecue, hike through flower-filled meadows, visit a distillery and organic farm in the nearby Pemberton Valley or take a yoga class at a hot springs. The list goes on and on …