Ski resorts and mountain towns are not just the place to go for winter powder shredding, après ski cocktails, and snow-filled adventures. Now that the snow has melted, here are a few of our fave mountain towns to explore, so unleash your adventurous side (like exploring bear dens in Canada) and enjoy some good old-fashioned outdoor fun this summer.
Palisades Tahoe, California
Right on the edge of Lake Tahoe, the activities at the newly-renamed Palisades Tahoe are perfect for summer fun. The official home of the 1960s Winter Olympics not only boasts a mountain that includes vast hiking and biking trails, but there’s also a pool at the top of the mountain, and an alpine roller coaster for all you thrill-seekers.
For an epic mountain biking adventure that crisscrosses the resort’s famed ski trails or a more leisurely cruise down to Lake Tahoe’s edge, head into town to rent a bike. The pros at Truckee River Bikes can help you navigate the more than 25 miles of paved bike paths that fill North Lake Tahoe.
Palisades Tahoe offers a massive High Camp — at 8,200 feet in elevation. Take an educational stroll through the Olympic Museum, kick-start a hike, or hit the popular roller-skating rink and pool which, truth be told, is much more enjoyable without the snow.
Mountain Roller Coaster
At the nearby mountain, Heavenly, you’ll find the rather massive Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster. With sleds that fit up to two riders, it’s self-propelled and races up to 27mph. Offering unparalleled views of the mountains, lake, and more, those with the stomach for it, will whizz through 3,400 feet of open-air twists and turns.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Close to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (roughly 25 minutes and an hour, respectively), Jackson Hole is a nature lover’s dream come summer. Start your mornings with yoga on the top of the mountain, and then engage in activities like biking, hiking, and whitewater rafting. End your adventures with locally-sourced farm-to-table dining experiences at restaurants like The Middle Fork, where mostly everything is locally sourced. The menu changes seasonally but offers everything from banana bread french toast to pork belly sandwiches; made-to-order beignets, spinach salads, and more.
Drive to Grand Teton National Park (around 10 mins) and Yellowstone National Park (around 40 minutes) to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, go hiking, or climbing. Grand Teton National Park, while an excellent resource for serious mountain and rock climbers alike, also offers plenty of casual trails that give way to gorgeous lookout points and hidden waterfalls alike. Yellowstone National Park is an incredibly lush spot, rife with rivers, forest, hot springs, and more (of course, including the iconic Old Faithful). Not to mention that Yellowstone is a great place to hike if you’re in the mood for local wildlife spotting, like bison, elk, antelope, and the like.
If practicing yoga on the top of a mountain sounds like your jam, ride the Bridger Gondola from the resort to salute the morning sun with an epic view. Offered by Teton Village Sports, this is likely to be one of your most memorable workout experiences ever.
Jackson Hole is famed for having some of the best biking terrains in the country for all levels. With more than 56 miles of paved routes and over 115 miles of mountain bike trails, there’s something for everyone. Head to Friends of Pathways to map out the best route for you.
The glamorous celebrity-filled ski playground also comes alive in summer with hiking, biking, golf, museum visits, and landscape tours.
Art and Culture
Visit the year-round Aspen Art Museum to see contemporary works by the likes of Andy Warhol and undiscovered up-and-comers in ever-rotating showcases. If music is more your scene, Jazz Aspen Snowmass has been an institution since 1991. With multiple ticketed events throughout the summer months, check the calendar for the hottest tickets in town. Movie buffs will also love Aspen Film which presents festivals and screenings of independent films.
Snowmass Bike Park
With a recent expansion that will add two new trails this coming summer, Snowmass Bike Park features over 2,893 feet of vertical descent and roughly 26.3 miles of downhill bike trains. During the high summer, the park takes things to the next level with Bonus Bike Nights — ride from 3 p.m. to dusk every Tuesday.
Aspen is also a place to engage in water sports, especially in the still waters of the Roaring Fork River. Head to Bristlecone Mountain Sports to rent all the gear you need for a day out on the river paddleboarding, kayaking, or tubing.
For a twist on summer mountain town action, head to Hintertux in Austria, which happens to be one of just a few glaciers in the world open for skiing 365-days a year. Due to its glacial location and extremely high altitude (at roughly 10,700 feet), the snow stays cool and the precipitation often just churns out more powder.
A die-hard skier’s haven, Hintertux has 13 miles of open ski trails during summer, accessible by more than 10 lifts. Take note: There are runs open for beginners and intermediates alike, but the terrain is famous for steep and difficult ratings.
With three popular areas to bike, Hintertux is made to be explored on two wheels. The Glacier is home to more aggressive terrain, the Finkenberg mountain biking region has unique trails accessible by lifts, and Tux Valley is open for more leisurely nature spins. Take an initial ascent up via gondola and bike around to your heart’s content. Just like when skiing, you can hop on a variety of lifts along the way to give you a little extra altitude boost.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the glacier, you’ll be pleased to know you can actually go inside it. Book a guided tour to explore Nature’s Ice Palace where you will find caves filled with cavernous ice crystals, frozen waterfalls, and a glacial lake — which can be done on foot, by snowcat, boat, and even stand up paddleboard.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Considered one of the best ski resorts in the world, Whistler is also a popular summer destination for its bike and hiking-based activities. But what makes it a true summer stand out is the suspension bridge that stands tall at the top of the mountain, offering an unparalleled 360-degree view of your incredible surroundings. When not exploring the mountain, you can also take a guided tour of the bear viewing areas to see the majestic grizzly’s up close.
The Whistler Peak Suspension Bridge
Opened in 2018 Whistler Peak Suspension Bridge, one of the highest suspension bridges in North America, allows you to literally walk on air. To access it, head to the top of the mountain, via gondola, and walk the nearly 1,000-feet bridge that connects Whistler Peak to the West Edge Lookout, which extends more than 40 feet over the cliff and has some of the most incredible views on earth.
Get up close and personal with the approximately 60 black bears and cubs that live among Whistler’s ski area habitats. On a guided tour (you’ll be loaded into a safe and comfy SUV) which happens daily throughout summer, you will visit the bear dens, take walks through the forests they call home, and explore areas of the mountain not normally accessible.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park (opened in 1999) is the number one lift-accessed bike park in the world. Featuring 5,000 vertical feet of downhill terrain, there are 112 trails and roughly 50 miles to explore, with the highest elevation a little over 2,100 feet. You’ll find trails for beginners through to pros and the park also offers bike lessons.
Les Gets, France
The French Alps are spectacularly beautiful no matter the time of year. Between the cozy Alpine chalets, quaint towns, romantic scenery, and gastronomy, it’s always worth a visit. Les Gets, well, gets our vote for the best summer spot — specifically, because it has one of the longest ziplines in the world. What could be a more thrilling way to take in the view.
Fly through the Alps air like Superman on Fantasticable to soar 800 feet above the ground, reaching speeds at 60 mph. You’ll reach one landing and connect to a second smaller zipline that will whiz you back to base and the chairlift so you can start all over again.
Museum of Mechanical Instruments
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Les Gets, the Museum of Mechanical Instruments is one-of-a-kind in Europe. Within the museum’s walls, you will find more than 800 mechanical musical instruments, many of which date back to the 17th century. And, if you’re lucky enough to be in town during the International Festival of Mechanical Music, you can catch hundreds of shows featuring organ players, musicians, mime, and all manner of performing artists.
Alta Lumina Night Walk
Newly opened Alta Lumina Park hosts charming night walks throughout summer. And when we say night walks, we’re talking about a magical forest walk complete with a light show, video projections, music, and interactive installments. The route took a year to design and build and is truly one of a kind in Europe, if not the world.
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