Intergenerational Fun Highlights Summer At America’s Mountain Resorts
School’s out and the cool mountains present an even cooler line-up of summer activities that can make a hero out of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Just take those active youngsters and teens on a mountain resort vacation and you’ll be amazed at the things you can do together to have fun.
A number of attractions offer exhilarating fun — mountain coasters, water parks, and zip lines. But, as in winter, many resorts now offer an introduction to activities that can become lifelong sports or hobbies. Their challenges are many, from mental to physical to a combo that demands concentration and even exertion.
From mountain biking to ropes courses, golf to hiking trails, the good news is that different levels of abilities and ages are being accommodated. Here’s a sampling:
Copper Mountain in Colorado offers programs, activities, and attractions for all ages, but its Woodward at Copper is unique. It features the Barn's skate bowls, mini-ramps, pump track, street area, and skatelite jumps to foam pits. While all ages can participate, if adults wimp out, the newly renovated indoor and outdoor areas offer spectating areas so the kids can show off their skills, Copper’s Austyn Williams told SnoCountry.com.
BMX Camps for ages six up accommodate amateurs and pros with skill development and fun plus they offer trips to the local dirt jumps and area skate/BMX parks.
Copper Stables offer guided horseback trail rides with pony rides for toddlers. Other activities include: quad power jump, climbing wall, Go-Karts, mountain biking, miniature golf, 18-hole golf course, zip line, and bumper boats and paddle boats. For more water activities, there’s nearby Frisco Bay Marina and KODI Rafting experiences — 30 excursions on six Colorado rivers, from a scenic float trip for the whole family to a wild whitewater challenge.
“As the resort ages, we’ve seen multiple generations develop loyalty,” noted Bonnie MacPherson of Okemo Mountain in Vermont. “We’re seeing grandparents, their children and their grandchildren doing activities together, not just sitting on a bench and watching … older people are more active,” she said.
Okemo’s Family Four golf course features an affordable introduction to golf for all ages while allowing adults to impart skills to offspring. Camp Gokemo allows kids to have more adventures while adults play a round on the area’s heathland 18-hole course.
Keeping teens interested in a family vacation is always a challenge, but the opportunity to drive a Segway works as it engages mental and physical coordination to get the ‘hang of it” — and miss the cones set up on a learning area. Then it’s on to paved routes, gravel, and finally a hilly romp in scenic meadows and challenging woods routes, where roots and trees need to be avoided.
The Adventure Zone offers an aerial ropes course challenge that has different segments for various ability levels, from easier to advanced. While it may sound easy to get from tree to tree, negotiating rickety bridges, a net traverse, rope bridges, swinging platforms and other obstacles is anything but! It requires courage as well as use of one’s muscles and it’s not uncommon to see kids shine here and coax the adults along.
Other Vermont resorts, such as Bromley, Magic, and Smugglers, also offer exciting adventure parks. Jay Peak’s water park is taking families by storm as is their ice arena, both operational year round.
There are about 11 million skiers and riders in the U.S. but 60 million active mountain bikers so it’s little wonder that more resorts are expanding offerings to include new introductory mountain bike trails that anyone can enjoy.
Several Colorado resorts are building significant infrastructure improvements to enhance their summer outdoor recreational opportunities, including mountain biking and disc golf (new course at Sunlight), Patrick Byrne of Colorado Ski Country told us.
Mountain Biking is big in Colorado with Winter Park, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Aspen and Granby Ranch hosting events and bike centers, he added. These areas offer lift-serviced downhill and cross-country trails for beginners to experts, gravity fed trails and terrain features, lessons, and rentals/repair shops with other summer offerings of fishing, hiking, golf, or other activities/attractions.
Back in New England, Mount Snow, Vermont’s Dave Meekers says the resort’s introductory bike trail will make it easier for families to explore the outdoors as will the launch of our new Family Camp at Mount Snow. A learn-to-ride program features lift-served access to the 3-mile beginner trail with switchbacks and smooth banked turns. Family Camp also includes guided mountain biking as well as other activities like hikes, golf, fishing, and boating.
“Traditional sports — biking, hiking, golf, horseback riding — are ideal and can build up skills and family togetherness. The Loon Mountain Franconia Notch Bike Tour in New Hampshire is awesome. They bring participants and bikes up into Franconia Notch and it’s mostly downhill back to Loon. So someone not exceptionally fit, but comfortable on a bike, could enjoy the long scenic ride with family/friends,” says Ski New Hampshire’s Karl Stone.
“Ropes courses and aerial adventure courses offer non-traditional activities that may surprise people and several have everything from beginner to expert levels so people can build up confidence and skills or simply enjoy the levels they are comfortable with,” Stone said.
Mount Sunapee’s new self-guided Aerial Challenge Course, also in N.H., has four loops ranging from beginner to advanced with thirty-two challenges for ages six and up. The Canopy Zip-Line Tour features a series of 8 zip-lines, rope bridges and rappelling capped off by the final 1,000-foot dual ziplines to a platform from which you will rappel back down to earth. Disc golf, Segway tours, miniature golf and scenic chairlift rides and hiking round out offerings.
Adults have Tough Mudders and Death Races — now there’s Kids Adventure Games for kids ages 6 – 14 who travel a challenge course by mountain bike, on foot, on land, or on water in teams of two.
Seven resorts across the country host these games: Snowbird, Utah, June 20-21; Squaw Valley, Calif., June 27-28; Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Ore., July 5-6; Mammoth Mt., Calif., Aug. 1-2; Vail, Colo., Aug. 7-10; Big Sky, Mont., Aug. 22-23; and Sun Valley, Idaho, Aug. 30-31. Optional clinics (mountain biking, climbing/ropes, teamwork, Adventure Racing 101) are offered to sharpen skills and increase confidence.
From traditional to new adventures, mountain resorts provide a cool summer opportunity for families to become active together.
Photo: Mountain biking is popular at Steamboat Resort in Colorado (Larry Pierce)