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Peak Season

Summer is the new prime time at mountain resorts

As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.

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


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

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.

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

Jackson Hole

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

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.

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.

Mount Snow

The Grand Summit resort hotel (doubles, $110; 800-451-4211, has a vast trail network out its front door and a pub and spa to welcome you back after a long day.

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.
The four-person teams in Mount Snow's annual adventure race (800-451-4211,, July 17–18, have to find the finish line. From the sidelines, you can watch them toil in confusion.

Big Mountain

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

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.

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

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From Outside Magazine, Jul 2004
Filed To: AspenWhitefishVermontJackson
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