After the snow melts, hiking, biking, horseback riding, zip lining, concerts and outdoor summer fun await at ski resorts in the summer season. Many U.S. ski resorts are investing in warm-weather programs and activities to make them year-round destinations.
"Although summer recreation at ski resorts isn’t necessarily a new trend, all ski resorts are seeing a boom in summer visitation and are focused on creating new activities in the summertime," says Dan Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer of ski.com. "Most ski resorts have recognized the trend and are aiming to attract even more travelers in a variety of ways, including festivals; mountain biking; and on-mountain activities like ropes courses, zip lines, outdoor climbing walls and alpine coasters."
Developments like Snowmass, Colorado's new on-mountain activity center; new electric bike tours at Idaho's Schweitzer Mountain; and Jackson Hole's Via Ferrata — an alpine climbing adventure through suspended bridges and along granite walls unveiled two years ago — are just a few of the initiatives that have enhanced summer recreation at resorts that are primarily thought of as winter destinations.
Here are seven ski destinations to consider visiting this season:
Snowmass Ski Area
Location: Snowmass Village, Colorado
Mountain bikers will find summer adventure in the addition of 4.8 miles of new trails unveiled last year. Comprising 3,128 acres, Snowmass is the largest of the four Aspen Snowmass mountains, which include Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Highlands. In 2018, Snowmass Village — the destination’s main lodging area — has nearly doubled in capacity over the past six years.
Snowmass Mountain boasts 80 miles of dirt and paved trails; The Lost Forest, a new on-mountain activity center that comprises an alpine coaster, canopy zip line, a climbing wall; and the Treeline Trial Challenge Course, an obstacle course consisting of rappelling, zip lines, bridges and ladders up to 40 feet in the air.
Location: Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky Resort is home to summer recreation like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding trails and fly-fishing on the Gallatin River. Big Sky is located between Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Local resort taxes have increased 218% from July 2009 to July 2018 due to increased summer tourism, according to the Big Sky Resort Area District Tax Board.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
Boasting 2,900 acres of terrain, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is only 85 miles from Spokane, Washington. "We’ve seen an increase in summer visitation over the last several years — for example, last summer, 2018, saw a 40% growth from five years ago," Dig Chrismer, Marketing Manager for Schweitzer Mountain Resort, tells USA TODAY.
The destination offers over 40 miles of bike trails for people to explore. "We also added e-bike tours last summer and saw a steady increase in business over the summer," says Chrismer. "E-bikes make it possible for even more people to get out on the trails without being nervous about the physical demands that can come with traditional mountain biking."
Location: Park City, Utah
Park City is made up of two ski resorts in Utah, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain. Last year, the destination had its highest-performing summer in the town’s tourism history, according to the Park City Chamber/Convention and Visitor Bureau, likely due to its increased summer offerings in the last few years. There are mountain biking and flow trails; an adventure zone — a playground made up of a spider slide, climbing web, boulders and climbing wall; summer alpine slides and coasters; and the Comet Bobsled, where a professional pilot takes up to three passengers on a ride down the a bobsled track at the resort's Utah Olympic Park, built for the 2002 Olympics. Yoga enthusiasts will enjoy being able to practice stand-up paddle board yoga in an underground hot springs crater.
The destination also hosts a number of summer festivals and events in Park City, including a music festival, arts fest and bicycle race.
Fishing enthusiasts take advantage of Park City's three neighboring rivers (the Green, the Provo and the Weber) that offer year-round blue-ribbon fly fishing, with the activity is at its peak during the summer months.
Location: Breckenridge, Colorado
Located in the heart of the Rockies, Breckenridge was flooded with prospectors successfully searching for and finding gold in the 1800s. From 2008 to 2018, Breckenridge has seen 40% growth in occupancy during the destination's summer season, May through October, according to the Breckenridge Tourism Office. Historic records of snowfall were experienced this past ski season, which means optimal whitewater rafting and stand up-paddle boarding this summer.
Over the past decade, the resort has expanded its summer offerings with on-mountain adventures. Open from June through September, Breckenridge's Epic Discovery is a combination of adventure pursuits on the mountain, including zip line tours, four-wheeler rides, scenic chairlifts, alpine slides and mountain biking.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort
Location: Cortland, New York
Located in the Finger Lakes region of central New York, Greek Peak Mountain Resort is a popular wintertime ski destination. The resort has transformed over the years to become a year-round hot spot for families and adventurers. "The resort reported a 29% increase in tourism from 2017 to 2018, an uphill climb that is expected to continue into this year’s season," according to Kaitlyn Marie Head, Director of Sales and Marketing for Greek Peak Mountain Resort
Greek Peak Mountain Resort has an onsite Outdoor Adventure Center featuring a mountain coaster, a hybrid bungee trampoline; zip lining; a ropes course; as well as the Cascades Indoor Waterpark with a wave pool, four water slides, a cove and hot tubs. The resort added lift access to downhill mountain biking in 2016.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Location: Teton Village, Wyoming
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails added in the last few years. In addition, the Via Ferrata, an alpine climbing adventure through suspended bridges and along granite walls, made its debut in summer 2017. For the families, there are also a ropes course, bike park, climbing wall and Frisbee golf course for summer pursuits in the ski destination town. To see the destination from an elevation of 10,450 feet, the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram holds 100 people and takes 9 minutes to reach the summit.
"Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has grown its summer business over the last decade — 10 years ago the summer business was approximately 12% of our total business, and now it is above 18%," says Anna Cole, Communications Director, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. "Our Aerial Tram is the most popular attraction, and visitation has grown year over year to over 150,000 riders each summer."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ski resorts are expanding summer activities; here are 7 that are year-round destinations