Our family will never forget a trip we took to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, widely regarded as one of the most amazing ski areas in the country. But instead of schussing down the mountain, we climbed down. Yes, we visited in July when the mountains were mostly free of snow, and yet, they were just as inviting. Our visit to the ski area involved a gondola ride up the mountain and a hike down, drinking in the sights of wildflowers and waterfalls.
While I like to ski, I enjoy the rugged beauty of the mountain in the summer just a little bit more … mostly because I don’t have to bundle up.
If a summer visit to a ski resort sounds more your speed, the options are plentiful. Here are five ski areas your family should visit during the summer.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
The network of trails at the Jackson Hole Ski Area offers a variety of hikes for all levels, from the 20-minute Top of the World loop that offers sweeping vistas and photo opps with minimal effort, to the steeper and more difficult 4.2-mile Rock Springs Loop. If your goal is to ride the gondola up and hike down, the easiest way to descend is on the 3.9-mile Wildflower Trail. The 12-minute tram ride costs $37 to $44 for adults and $24 to $29 for juniors, ages 6 to 17. A family tram ticket for up to two adults and four juniors will run you $98 to $105. Book ahead online for the best prices. More details on the hiking trails and village activities can be found at the Jackson Hole website.
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA
You think skiing black diamond runs is daring? Try the Mammoth Mega Zip to really experience the thrill of flying down a mountain — 2,100 feet down to be exact. The zipline, opening spring 2019, offers both seated- and “Superman”-style harnesses. For an alternate way to descend the mountain, get rolling in the bike park that includes 80+ miles of single-track terrain with trails for riders at all levels. The Discover Mountain Biking for Two package includes a four-hour bike rental and tickets to the bike park for an adult and one child, 12 and under, which last summer ran $100 — 2019 pricing has yet to be announced. For an extra $59 (2018 pricing) you can add a two-and-a-half-hour lesson. Check out the Mammoth Mountain summer site for more details.
SMUGGLER’S NOTCH, VERMONT
Why ski when you can swim? The Smuggler’s Notch resort’s waterpark boasts eight heated pools, four waterslides and two freshwater reservoirs. There’s something for everyone, from a tube float on the lazy river for the little ones to the 300-foot long, 30-foot tall Giant Rapid River Ride for the more adventurous. Other activities include hiking on the nearby ski mountain and canoeing and kayaking. Non-resort guests can get a “Daycation” pass to enjoy the water park; passes are $70 per day for adults and $50 per day for youth ages 3 to 17 and seniors ages 65 plus. However, kiddos under three are free with a paying adult. Find details on lodging and more at the Smuggler’s Notch website.
PARK CITY, UTAH
The site of the 2002 winter games, the Utah Olympic Park has a full slate of summer activities to bring out your inner athlete — or spectator. Highlights include ziplines, a summer bobsled, suspended ropes course, climbing wall, tubing, drop tower, alpine slide and more. Don’t miss the Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Show, which runs most Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, where Olympians and National Team skiers and snowboarders perform acrobatics before splashing down into the Olympic-sized (obvi!) pool. Daily passes in 2018 were $75 for adults and $50 for kids during peak season (June 16 to September 3), with prices dropping to $65 for adults and $40 for kids from May 25 to June 15 and September 8 through October 21. For more information, visit the Utah Olympic Park website.
Instead of riding a chairlift over the trees, in the summer you can walk between them on a suspended bridge, as part of the Expedition Zipline Tour through the White River National Forest. Other activities in the Discovery Park include a climbing wall, alpine coaster, bungee trampoline, bounce house, maze, miniature golf course, climbing wall and more. All-day passes are $89 for guests 54" and taller and $62 for our shorter friends (the zipline is an extra $10), or you can choose three activities for $49 or $39 respectively. (Bonus: the gondola ride is free!) To find out more, visit the Epic Discovery website.