One of the biggest trends in the ski industry has nothing to do with winter or snow – It’s, in fact, the growth of summer activities and events. Becoming a year-round destination has been the long-term goal of many ski resorts, with the idea of employing workers, filling hotel beds, and getting some revenue in months without snow on the trails.
Why is summer such a big deal for ski areas?
Quite simply, it’s the biggest time of the year for travel and vacations in the US. The kids are out of school, the roads are clear of snow and ice, you don’t have to have the skill or desire to slide on snow (which, believe it or not, not everyone does), and it’s the time for the classic American Road Trip.
So while you’re planning your own road trip this summer, or just looking for something close to home, consider checking out some of these lesser known activities and events at ski areas across the US.
1. Heavenly, CA
Located astride the California/Nevada border at Lake Tahoe, Heavenly’s Blue Streak zip line debuted last summer, giving riders a stunning view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains while flying down the line at 50 miles per hour.
For the less adventurous, a scenic gondola ride to the Tamarack Lodge for lunch offers a scenic setting for selfies. Hikers will also appreciate the gondola access to numerous hiking trails from the summit. While in South Lake Tahoe, you could also try your hand at stand up paddle boarding – It’s never too early to get that core into shape for next ski season.
2. Attitash, NH
The tax-free shopping at the outlets in nearby North Conway seem like a lifetime away when you’re sailing down New England’s longest zip line – 5,000 feet between Bear Peak and Attitash. Look to your left as you descend for views of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in New England and home of Tuckerman’s Ravine. The end of the zip tour lands you in the Attitash base area, which is replete with a variety of summer activities – a Big Air Bag, a mountain coaster, slacklines, climbing wall, mountain biking, eurobungy, and alpine slide.
There’s plenty to keep the whole family busy, but if you’re seeking more solitude try a horseback ride along the Saco River or just a stroll on the many hiking trails in the area.
3. Crystal Mountain Resort, MI
A true summer destination, Crystal has attractions to draw a lot of different visitors to its northern Michigan location – traditional activities like golf and tennis, outdoor pursuits like hiking and swimming, and new thrills including an alpine slide and a ropes adventure course.
One of the most popular events that Crystal hosts is the Michigan Beer and Brat Festival. Now in its tenth summer, the festival is held over Memorial Day and features Michigan-only craft beers (85+ beers) and bratwurst from a dozen local markets. Thousands visit for the chance to sample two great tastes that taste great together and soak up the early summer Michigan sun. The focus on local products and the fact that the event is zero-waste are two attributes very much aligned with Crystal’s brand.
4. Mt. Hood Skibowl, OR
A smorgasbord of outdoor offerings awaits visitors from Portland and the greater Pacific Northwest area at Mt. Hood Skibowl. Their adventure park has an extensive array of family-friendly activities like mini golf and go karts, while the alpine slide, treetop action zone, and zip lines provide a speed rush for visitors of all ages.
The Freeride Bike Park has berms, gap jumps, log roads, and more for those looking for advanced features to get the adrenaline flowing. Those who prefer to pedal themselves will find an extensive cross-country mountain bike trail network in and around the Mt. Hood area.
5. Montage, PA
Nothing is better to cool off on a hot summer day than a run down the Iceberg Alley Luge at the Montage Mountain Water Park. The ski area, located off Interstate 81 in Scranton, transforms into an adventure playground in the summer, with a zip rider, extensive water park, mini golf, batting cages, beach volleyball, and more. Montage also hosts a summer trail running series on the hill and a local beer festival.
After soaking in the daytime activities, you can catch a Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders minor league baseball game in the evening – the stadium is just down the hill from the water park.
Check out your local ski hill this summer to see what’s going on. You might be surprised at the variety of activities and events to get your heart rate up and to keep your family active all summer long.