July is a busy month. The height of the North American summer, it kicks off with Independence Day in the United States and by month-end many kids are starting their countdown to a new school year.
Of all the months, July should be the most carefree with trips to the beach, the pool, and, of course, the mountains.
Whether you’ve got a day, a weekend or a week set aside, here are some fun family adventures to inspire you this summer…or perhaps plan for 2014:
While summertime in New England may bring to mind sailing, clam bakes and reading books on the beach, Killington Resort in Vermont offers cool, mountain fun with free concerts, hiking, biking and disc golf.
Active older kids and their parents will want to try the Powdr Shot Biathlon on July 13-14. Combine mountain biking or trail running with air rifle target shooting on a short loop course. Just as in winter biathlon, for every target you miss, you take a penalty lap!
The Killington event kicks off the nationwide Powdr Shot series. After Killington, biathlon competitions continue in Utah, Oregon, Colorado and California.
There is something about the wide-open vistas of Montana that makes me want to ride a horse. Moonlight Basin, near Big Sky, is the perfect destination for families that want to get their cowboy on this summer and reconnect with nature in a non-motorized way.
Options include riding by the hour or day on mountain wilderness trails, a Friday or Saturday night trail ride and cookout, or best of all, an overnight camping trip where you’ll sleep in walled tents, enjoy fresh cooked camp food and fish for big Montana trout.
Prefer a steed with two wheels? Moonlight Basin has 16 miles of self-guided bike trail.
Or, for something more intense, look south to Winter Park, Colorado and the incredible Trestle Bike Park. Designed for downhill biking, Trestle has new beginner and intermediate terrain and offers full rentals and excellent instruction for those new to the sport. For advanced and expert riders, the challenges at Trestle never end. On July 25-28, you can watch the best freeride bikers in the world compete for $45,000 at the Colorado Freeride Festival.
For a quick getaway, the Sandia Peak Tramway outside Albuquerque, New Mexico can’t be beat. Board the tram and in 10 minutes you’ll travel 2.7 miles above deep canyons to the top of 10,378 foot Sandia Peak. From here, the views are breathtaking and encompass 11,000 square miles of the Rio Grande Valley.
Atop Sandia Peak, you’ll find an observation deck, a restaurant and hiking and biking trails. Check the trail status before you go, as drought conditions in the early summer resulted in trail closures.
Down at the tram base, don’t miss the free New Mexico Ski Museum.
If you like the idea of skiing in July, Timberline Lodge, Oregon is your destination. Open seven days a week, through Labor Day, you’ll share the Palmer Snowfield with professional and aspiring ski racers from around the world. There is dedicated space for public skiing and snowboarding, so everyone is welcome.
I’ve skied the Palmer Snowfield in the summer and it’s memorable. Get up early and board the lift when it opens at 7:00 a.m. Ski all morning and then spend your afternoon relaxing and swimming in a nearby lake, racing down the alpine slide at Government Camp, hiking on the famous Pacific Crest Trail or enjoying a guided tour of the 1937 lodge built by the WPA during the Great Depression.