Peak Season

Summer is the new prime time at mountain resorts

PSSST. What's the biggest open secret of mountain towns? Summer. "I came for the winter and stayed" is the locals' mantra, from Crested Butte, Colorado, to Stowe, Vermont. Once the snow melts, ski runs morph into multi-use trails and rivers rise to whitewater level. In Aspen and many other ski areas, July is now as busy as February. "Summer used to be time off for ski towns," says Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. "Then the public realized that the scenery and mountains don't disappear with the snow." Here are a few good reasons to head for the hills when the heat is on. —Dina Mishev

COLORADO
Aspen/Snowmass
800-308-6935
www.aspensnowmass.com

WHERE TO STAY
The St. Regis Aspen (doubles, $445; 888-454-9005, www.stregisaspen.com) reopened June 1, after a $30 million renovation. Beware: The marble bathrooms and flat-screen TVs make it tough to leave your room.

WHAT TO DO
Paddle the Class III Upper Roaring Fork River just outside town, mountain-bike in Hunter Creek Valley, hike over Independence Pass, or ride horses to the Maroon Bells. Need more? Shopping in Aspen could exhaust an Olympian.

WHEN TO GO
Mix urban sounds with a mountain backdrop at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass fest (866-527-8499, www.jazzaspen.org), June 24–27. Headliners include Wynton Marsalis, Al Green, and Natalie Cole.

WYOMING
Jackson Hole
888-333-7766
www.jacksonhole.com

WHERE TO STAY
The world's first slopeside Four Seasons (doubles, $375; 800-295-5281, www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole) has 550-square-foot guest rooms (if you go with their smallest) and an 11,000-square-foot spa.

WHAT TO DO
The Four Seasons base-camp concierge can book guided fly-fishing trips on Flat Creek, climbing in Grand Teton National Park, rafting on the Snake River, and naturalist-led hikes in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

WHEN TO GO
July 16–18 is the annual Jackson Hole Paragliding Event (307-690-8726). Kick back on the deck of the Mangy Moose bar with a beer and a pair of binoculars to catch the aerial acrobatics of pro pilots.

VERMONT
Mount Snow
800-451-4211
www.mountsnow.com

WHERE TO STAY
The Grand Summit resort hotel (doubles, $110; 800-451-4211, www.mountsnow.com/summer/grandsummit) has a vast trail network out its front door and a pub and spa to welcome you back after a long day.

WHAT TO DO
With many of its 45 miles of trails lift-accessed, Mount Snow courts hikers, mountain bikers, and loafers. If you're looking for an even calmer retreat, rent a canoe and cruise the shores of nearby Harriman Reservoir.
WHEN TO GO
The four-person teams in Mount Snow's annual adventure race (800-451-4211, www.mountsnow.com), July 17–18, have to find the finish line. From the sidelines, you can watch them toil in confusion.

MONTANA
Big Mountain
800-858-4152
www.bigmtn.com

WHERE TO STAY
Five miles from the mountain, Hidden Moose Lodge (doubles, $139; 888-733-6667, www.hiddenmooselodge.com) has a trail system right off its back deck—good thing, since crème brûée French toast is a breakfast favorite.

WHAT TO DO
Montana Adventure Company (877-223-0745) can arrange for hiking, biking, rafting, and fishing, but why let gravity limit you? Take a "Walk in the Treetops," a guided three- hour trek on a boardwalk 60 feet up in a pine forest.

WHEN TO GO
Get dirty in the resort's summer games, September 10–12. Compete in everything from soccer and softball to the 13-mile Huckleberry Hill Climb, a mountain-bike race from the valley floor to the summit of Big Mountain.

Group Mind Meld

Get the latest on-the-ground travel tips, online

TIMELY LOCAL TRAVEL advice was once as tough to come by as a stiff drink in Salt Lake City. Looking for the new underground club in Tokyo or a drivable road to the coast in Peru's rainy season? You no longer need to hit up other travelers once you've landed, thanks to growing Web-based travel forums. Designed for swapping stories and info, these sites let you tap into the knowledge of thousands of frequent fliers—some logging on from the road—to float plans before making a critical mistake.

»VIRTUALTOURIST.COM
BEST FOR: Leisure vacations » PROFILE: 444,000 users trade thoughts on international getaways » TO USE: Plug keywords into the search engine » CHOICE BETA: Hit the best bed-and-breakfasts along the Tour de France route.

»TREKSHARE.COM
BEST FOR: Exotic adventures » PROFILE: Extended travelogues (some with photos and video) filed by 10,000 bold wanderers » TO USE: Skip the sermons and e-mail a member who's been where you want to go—or is still there » CHOICE BETA: Find the most secluded beaches in Fiji.

»THORNTREE.LONELYPLANET.COM
BEST FOR: Essential travel info » PROFILE: 175,000 savvy travelers drill each other with pressing questions » TO USE: Post your specific queries in a regional discussion group » CHOICE BETA: Learn the latest visa requirements for Libya.

More Travel

Love to Travel?

Thank you!

Pinterest Icon