Reason 1: The Bike Parks
If you're a bike lover and an adrenaline junkie, or just enjoy being outdoors on two wheels, checking out a ski resort with a bike park is a must in the summer. What's the difference between mountain biking on cross country trails and flying downhill at a bike park? Bike park trails are man-made, purposefully designed and have features like drops, table tops, banking turns, and other fun things you won't regularly find on trails in the woods. Bike parks give riders a chance to use gravity as much as possible; you'll do little pedaling at the bike park and a lot of standing, balancing, and moving your body around.
I had an absolute blast as a first-time downhill mountain bike rider at Winter Park Resort's Trestle Bike Park this summer. Winter Park is dubbed Mountain Bike Capital USA, and after a few days there, it's easy to see why. Downhill biking at Trestle was one of the most terrifying and exciting experiences I've had on a mountain bike, and I can't wait for the chance to do it again. After taking a lesson, which I'd highly recommend for first timers regardless of your mountain biking experience, I started to feel comfortable and found myself quickly overcoming my fear of flying downhill.
I also had the chance to ride a full suspension downhill bike for the first time. This summer, Trestle's bike rental fleet includes Specialized Demo 8 bikes and given the price tag, I can't imagine when I'll have a chance to ride a bike like that again. Also, at the bike park, full suspension is a must. If you're into adrenaline and two wheels, be sure to add a ski resort with a bike park to your list of destinations this summer.
Reason 2: The Bobsled Runs and Alpine Slides
Though you won't find both of these unique summer activities at every ski resort in the summer, many mountains offer the chance to fly down the hill using methods completely different from the options than you'll have in the winter. Alpine slides are long chutes, typically made of concrete or fiberglass, that accommodates a cart with a hand brake for riders to sit on. Winter Park Resort boasts Colorado's longest alpine slide; ride the chairlift up, then hop on a single-person wheeled cart, and you're off. At Winter Park, you'll cover a distance of over 3,000 feet and drop down 600 feet along the way. But you don't have to fly down the hill at the speed of light; at Winter Park, you can control your speed.
Not into being alone flying down the mountain? New York's Whiteface Mountain offers a bobsled ride experience with sleds manned by professionally trained drivers in the town that hosted the 1980 Olympic Games.
Reason 3: The Zip Lines and Ropes Courses
If you prefer seeing your favorite mountain from the sky rather than from on the ground, many resorts offer just that over the summer. Zip line tours typically involve donning a harness and a helmet, being expertly clipped into a thick metal cable, jumping off a platform high in the sky, and flying through the air at varying speeds to the next platform. Sound good? Montana's Whitefish Resort offers two zip line tour options that'll give you a new perspective on the mountain, and zip lines are also available at California's Heavenly Mountain, Ski Round Top in Pennsylvania, and Utah's Park City Mountain Resort.
If you're looking for a challenge, but still want to be up in the air, give ropes courses like those at Killington Resort in Vermont, Camelback Resort in Pennsylvania, and Vail Resort in Colorado. You're harnessed into a safety line, but it's up to you to get from one suspended platform to another without falling. I've found ropes courses to be a great challenge due to my fear of heights, but it's a blast conquering your fears and succeeding at something you might otherwise never try.
Reason 4: The Chance to See a Familiar Place in a New Light
We stayed at the Vintage Hotel on my recent trip to Colorado's Winter Park Resort, and one of my favorite things about our accommodations was the fact that we could take the ski lift down to the base for shopping, dining, and other activities. I'd never taken a chairlift anywhere on a ski resort mountain that was completely green and free of any remnants of snow.
Even if you've been to resorts like Winter Park during ski season, it can be incredible to see how different the mountain is in the summer. Trees look taller, features normally hidden under snow are exposed, and everything seems more alive. The towns themselves look completely different too; hiking up New York's Whiteface Mountain in the summer is a far cry from taking the chairlift up in the winter, and it's incredible to see the flora and fauna that emerge.
What ski towns have you been to in the summer? Have you had a chance to visit a ski resort during more than just one season? What are some of your favorite summer ski town activities? We'd love to hear from you!