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Under-the-Radar Ski Resorts to Visit This Summer

Ski hills, even the small ones, are ramping up their offerings to entice you back in the warmer months

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. (Paul Gorsuch)
snow king

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 biking
(Angel Fire Resort)

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

powderhorn mountain resort
(Powderhorn Mountain Resort)

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

beaver mountain lodge
(Courtesy Beaver Mountain)

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

snow king
(New Thought Media)

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

berkshire east
(Tino Specht Nomade Media)

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
(Bolton Valley Resort)

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.

Filed To: Mountain Biking / Biking / Family / Whitewater Rafting / New Mexico / Wyoming / Colorado / Massachusetts / Best Summer Ever
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.