Ah, summer. Time to relax with friends and family at — a ski mountain?
In fact, year-round destination mountain resorts have become the new normal in areas big enough to offer warm-weather activities, and the trend makes sense. With chair lifts and groomed trails already in place, not to mention on-mountain accommodations, why not cast a net for summer visitors?
Increasingly, ski areas are expanding activities to include mountain biking, golf, swimming, horseback riding and, for adrenaline junkies, alpine slides, which feature lift-accessible wheeled sleds that barrel down the mountain on dedicated tracks. Even adventure-phobic visitors can get in the act by simply riding the lift to the mountaintop to take in the view and grab lunch at an on-slope eatery.
Whistler Blackcomb is luring hikers and runners this summer with a new network of Alpine Wonder Routes that take advantage of the mountain’s 50-plus kilometers of lifts and trails.
“The network features tours, trails, waypoints and stops created to help guests navigate the mountains,” said Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb president and COO. “We are also excited about the construction of two new chairlifts, already under way, in preparation for our 2013-2014 winter season.”
Also new this summer at Whistler Blackcomb is an interactive viewing gallery for visitors interested in the construction of its Peak 2 Peak gondola in 2008, considered by many in the industry to be an engineering marvel.
Aspen/Snowmass will kick off summer operations June 22 with daily service on the Silver Queen Gondola for visitors who want to take in the views from the 11,000-foot summit of Aspen Mountain. The ride takes about 14 minutes, and activities at the top include a climbing wall and disc golf (picture flinging a Frisbee-like disc at a target and you get the idea).
Aspen/Snowmass is also operating Bike Snowmass this summer, a network of some 50 miles of bike terrain that officially opened last year.
This May, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) opened its Aerial Tram for the summer season to visitors who want a bird’s-eye view of Jackson Hole valley and Yellowstone from the 4,000-foot summit.
“Winter 2013 ended with the highest level of skier/rider visits in the resort’s history, with over 500,000 skier days,” said JHMR President Jerry Blann. “There seems to be a lot of momentum in the marketplace for Jackson Hole, and now with the National Parks opening on schedule, we are very optimistic for a strong summer in Jackson Hole.”
Summer activities include the Jackson Hole Bike Park, accessible by the Teewinot Chairlift, and a Concert on the Commons series, to run July 3 and 4 and every Sunday in July and August.