Ski hills, even the small ones, are ramping up their offerings to entice you back in the warmer months
Ski resorts around North America have realized that surviving as winter-only destinations is tough and limiting. Why not utilize existing infrastructure—like chairlifts, guide services, and lodging—to provide year-round activities, too? Major resorts like Whistler Blackcomb, Killington, Park City, and Sun Valley have long offered reasons to visit in the summer, but now smaller, lesser known ski areas are getting in on the action, too, with everything from top-notch mountain biking to outdoor concerts to lift-accessed hiking trails.
Angel Fire, New Mexico
Mountain bikers have been flocking to Angel Fire in northern New Mexico for its legendary bike park since the trails were built in 2011. Lifts provide access to 2,000 vertical feet and 60 miles of purpose-built singletrack, plus there’s newly built cross-country trails throughout the valley. Not a biker? Ride a scenic chairlift to 10,677 feet in the Sangre de Cristos for a mountain-top, barbecued lunch at the Summit Haus, then hike to the base and paddleboard Monte Verde Lake. This summer, there’s also free Friday night concerts and monthly outdoor movie nights. You can park your camper at the upscale Angel Fire RV Resort, which comes with an on-site concierge, fire pits, and free Wi-Fi.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Colorado
For newbie riders or Western Slope mountain bikers looking to get away from the crowds at Keystone or Fruita, Powderhorn Mountain Resort in western Colorado is the place to go. While still relatively new to the mountain-bike scene, it already has three established downhill tracks, with more on the way. But beware, lifts only run on weekends in the summer. Show up for the annual Gears and Beers festival for riding and craft-brew tastings, or ride a scenic lift before hiking the Grand Mesa. Camp for free in the resort parking lot or book a cabin (from $70) at Mesa Lakes Lodge, ten minutes away.
Beaver Mountain, Utah
Here’s the coolest thing about visiting family-owned Beaver Mountain, two hours north of Salt Lake City, in the summer: if you have a big group or you want to throw a full-on party, you can rent the entire base lodge—a charming A-frame at the foot of the mountain—starting at $950 a night. If that’s more than you need, you can pitch a tent at the on-site campground ($15) or book an overnight yurt ($250), too. The mountain just added a five-mile mountain-bike trail, and an 18-hole disc-golf course is going in this summer. Hiking trails and streams loaded with fish surround the resort as well, and you can boat on nearby Bear Lake. And on August 17, dozens of funk, indie, and bluegrass bands descend for the Beaver Mountain Music Festival.
Snow King, Wyoming
While the legendary Jackson, Wyoming, ski resort Jackson Hole offers mountain biking, tram rides to 10,450-foot Rendezvous Mountain, and endless hiking trails, there’s surprisingly even more to do in the summer at Snow King, the community ski hill that rises from downtown Jackson. Snow King invested nearly $20 million in summer activities in recent years and now boasts bike trails, bouldering walls, paragliding, and kids’ activities like trampolines and ropes courses. A second phase of improvements, set to be completed in the next five years, will include a new gondola to the summit, a mountaintop observatory, and downhill mountain biking. Book a room at the recently restored Anvil Hotel (from $195) and sign up for guided fly-fishing and whitewater rafting right in the lobby.
Berkshire East, Massachusetts
At Berkshire East, a family-owned hill in western Massachusetts, an on-site wind turbine and solar array power the mountain’s new Thunder Mountain Bike Park and summer adventure center where you can sign up for ride lessons, rent downhill rigs, join zip line tours, or book a whitewater rafting trip on the Deerfield River. Stay at the neighboring Warfield House Inn (from $169), a bed-and-breakfast in a classic red barn overlooking a working farm.
Bolton Valley, Vermont
Bolton Valley, 25 miles from Burlington, doesn’t have a rowdy bike park, but the resort’s new owners are investing a lot into its “off-season” offerings. Currently there’s hiking through the 5,000 acres of surrounding wilderness, a nine-hole disc-golf course that’s expanding to 18 holes for this summer, and a deli slinging homemade sandwiches and craft beer. In 2017, the Green Mountain Club reopened the historic Bolton Lodge (from $75), offering simple backcountry accommodations accessed via a 1.5-mile hike, and future plans for the resort include building out family-oriented summer programs, mountain biking, and more dining options.