In The Spotlight
Making plans for a trip to Utah this summer? Be sure to set aside time to check out all the warm-weather offerings from the state's ski and snowboard resorts.
Thirteen of the Beehive State's resorts have a menu of activities this summer. Eight of them crank up a lift or two to get visitors up into the hills for mountain biking, hiking or just plain sightseeing. And a few open up lodges for on-mountain overnights.
Many keep restaurants open for summer dining and host regular music concert series, beer fests, and special events and races.
If a “pure” mountain experience is desired, head to the following resorts that don't crank up the lifts during the summer but make hiking and mountain biking accessible: Alta and Brighton (hiking only); Powder Mountain Mountain, Eagle Point, and Beaver Mountain. Once up in the alpine basins, the wildflowers, snowy crests, and long vistas make the effort more than worthwhile.
For others, Park City Mountain reigns summer supreme for outdoor activities. An all-in-one Adventure Pass covers rides on one of longest Alpine slides around; 4,000-ft. Alpine Coaster; zip lines and lift rides; and, access for hiking and biking. Epic Pass holders get free chair or gondola rides all summer, discounted bike rentals, plus multiple retail deals in both Park City Mountain and Canyons villages.
Once Snowbird finally shuts down winter operations, staff shifts quickly to the plethora of summer to-dos. The summit Tram runs all season, plus the lengthy Mountain Coaster, Woodward Wrecktangle, Peruvian chair, and alpine slide.
Deer Valley and Solitude have expanded mountain biking trails this summer (Ikon Pass works at both), Utah's newby Cherry Peak horseback riding and the Redneck Waterslide, and Brian Head fires up its chairlift for mountain biking. Sundance features mountaintop classes in yoga and fly fishing down below.
Though the weather has been slow to cooperate, summer is indeed coming to the Colorado Rockies – and with it, tons of recreational diversions for all to enjoy.
Whether running summer operations or not, most all Colorado resorts sit on U.S. Forest Service land and, thus, are open for hiking high in the Rockies. While officially closed, resorts like Monarch, Loveland, and Silverton provide jumping-off points for hikers and (when permitted) mountain bikers heading into the hills.
On the other end of the spectrum, massive activity centers have sprung up at major Colorado resorts to give visitors one-stop ticketing for zip lines, bungees, trampolines, kids' mazes, alpine slides, rock-climbing walls – and more. Summer Epic Discovery centers are now in full swing at Vail and Breckenridge. Copper Mountain is home to the only Woodward center in the state, where youngsters up their game in extreme-style sports.
Mountain biking may be the fastest-growing sport in the Colorado mountains. Resorts that run lifts have bike hangers to get riders up to the top for some downhill thrills. Crested Butte and Purgatory have been leaders in building trails and parks – and hosting top-talent races -- for summertime pedalers.
Thrills can be had on mountain coasters at a half-dozen Colorado resorts, including two of the longest in North America at Steamboat and Copper.
For the more mellow crowd, most any day you can hop on a chairlift or in a gondola to rise out of the valley and get dropped off at some of the highest, most scenic points in Colorado. Vail operates two gondolas during the summer, getting tourists and sight-seers to 10,000 feet where Epic Discovery activities abound.
Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass crank up their gondolas for the summer months. At Telluride, the gondola runs as free public transit to get folks out of the town, over the ridge and into the base village for the ski and snowboard resort.
For those looking for quirky times in the mountains, here are a few oddball activities to keep things fresh:
- At Breckenridge, kids can go for gemstones in placer troughs, and more serious gold seekers can go on tours on nearby rivers that once yielded silver and gold bonanzas.
- Keystone keeps the snow guns going at the top of the mountain so that tubing operations run as much of the summer as possible.
- And, strolling around at 10,000 feet in Leadville – just down the road from Cooper/Chicago Ridge – may mean an encounter with a donkey. They are left over from the silver mining days and accompany mountain marathon runners in an annual race.
Total skier visits to the 23 member ski resorts of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) increased 13 percent over last year, finishing nearly 12 percent above the state’s five-year average. The numbers reflect the current makeup of the association, adjusted for the departure of Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 2018-19.
CSCUSA is projecting a record 13.8 million skier visits statewide, based on publicly available information from properties owned by Vail Resorts and others that are not members of the trade organization. The previous record was just over 13 million, in 2015-16.
Despite humanity’s best efforts, certainty is hard to come by when it comes to nature. Vail Resorts is bringing a bit of certainty to Vail Mountain’s opening day.
Vail Resorts announced Monday that, thanks to work this summer on new snowmaking equipment, Vail Mountain will be open on Nov. 15 of this year. That’s a for-sure opening.
According to a release from the company, Vail’s snowmaking upgrades and expansion will ensure a pre-Thanksgiving Opening Day each year. Nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain will provide guests with earlier access to higher-elevation terrain, top-to-bottom skiing/ snowboarding, access from two base areas and improved early-season ski school terrain.