Skiing in Summer?
Trade your swimsuit for skis in these snowy destinations
Your favorite ski spots may be closed for summer, but that doesn't mean you can't take in gorgeous mountain vistas or glide down pristine slopes elsewhere. You'll still find warm weather and sunny skies while glacier skiing in Canada and traversing Austria's icy peaks. Or you can fast-forward to winter in the Southern Hemisphere on the powder-topped mountains of Argentina and snowy, steep New Zealand pistes. But one thing's for certain: These snowy retreats offer all the scenery, runs and après-ski spots you need to enjoy an atypical summer vacation.
There are several perks to planning a ski trip at this time of year: fewer crowds, reduced rates and, of course, a handful of activities for outdoorsy types, including snowmobiling, mountain biking and dog-sledding. Plus, many of these escapes don't require you to be an expert skier or snowboarder. In fact, many resorts provide lessons for powder hounds of all ages. So strap on your ski gear and get ready for an encore of winter. Here are the best places to hit the slopes this summer.
[In Pictures: Skiing in Summer?]
Timberline Lodge, Ore.
Ever wanted to ski on a volcano? Timberline has you covered. The resort sits about 60 miles east of Portland on the south side of Mount Hood — Oregon's highest mountain and home to several glaciers — and the lodge is a National Historic Landmark (you may also recognize it from the 1980 film "The Shining"). Timberline stands as the only ski area in North America open year-round, but prime summer conditions peak from June to July. Note: Summer skiing on Palmer Glacier is best for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders due to its challenging runs and terrain parks ideal for polishing stunts. Below the glacier, Palmer Snowfield even used to be a testing ground for a variety of jumps and rails that now exist in freestyle terrain parks around the world. The mountain welcomes visitors from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summer season, so be sure to wake up bright and early to catch the best riding of the day. After you've hit the slopes, continue soaking up the great outdoors with hiking or mountain biking along Mount Hood's trails.
This popular ski spot is known for its exclusivity and social atmosphere. The oldest ski area in South America, Portillo features more than 1,200 acres and 35 trails for snow hounds of all skill levels. The resort sits in the Andes Mountains about 100 miles northeast of Santiago and features a summit that climbs to nearly 11,000 feet. The beautiful scenery is another major draw during June, July and August as the mountains seem to rise out of the cerulean Laguna del Inca (Inca Lake) below. And the resort's trademark canary yellow hotel is quite a sight against the soft, snow-dusted backdrop. Limited lodging on the mountain fosters the feeling of seclusion — and it means fewer crowds and plenty of untouched powder. Ski packages here can be pricey but they're all-inclusive, which means your cost covers lodging, four meals a day, lift tickets and access to all fitness and entertainment facilities.
British Columbia, Canada
You don't have to trek all the way to the Southern Hemisphere for primo skiing and snowboarding. Blackcomb Mountain, part of the Whistler Blackcomb resort in British Columbia, Canada, wins powder hounds over with its combination of snow-covered runs and warm temperatures. More than 1 million skiers flock to the resort in June and July, lauding the glacier's epic riding. Blackcomb Mountain's summit ascends nearly 7,500 feet, beckoning to avid skiers looking to tackle steeper terrain. (To reach the glacier, riders must use a T-bar, a T-shaped metal bar riders place behind their legs to tow them up the slopes). Once you reach the top, Horstman Glacier's versatile terrain features, such as jumps and rails, are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. And if you came for picturesque mountain scenery, you'll find plenty of breathtaking vistas. For the best photo ops, hop on the 7th Heaven Chairlift to the Horstman Hut eatery, which features panoramic views of Whistler Mountain and the valley below. And with Whistler's abundance of après-ski bars and restaurants, you're sure to find somewhere to relax after a day on the slopes.
Zermatt's Theodul glacier — composed of wide pathways and snow-covered trails — plays host to the highest altitude and largest summer ski area in Europe, with pistes that suit riders of every skill level. Looking for a challenge? Try tackling the mounds of moguls. Gravity Park houses a half-pipe, numerous kickers and rails to help you hone your freestyle skills. You can access the highest points by cable car or by the handful of lifts that stay open during the summer. Though the mountain is open year-round, June and July offer the best summertime conditions. And the views here are captivating — you can see the towering Matterhorn (one of the tallest mountains in the Swiss Alps) from nearly every vantage point. Take a lift up to the summit of the Klein Matterhorn to admire up to 40 peaks in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps that ascend more than 13,000 feet high. After you've soaked up the scenery, take advantage of other outdoor activities, such as paragliding, mountaineering and golfing. And if you're traveling with younger ones in tow, let the kids cut loose at the resort's playgrounds and trampolines before heading to a nearby bar or pub to kick back with fellow skiers.
[See: Best Ski Destinations]
New South Wales, Australia
Australia isn't only home to koalas and kangaroos — it also houses the cascading mountains of Perisher Ski Resort. Billed as the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, Perisher is tucked away in the Snowy Mountains region of Kosciuszko National Park about 300 miles southwest of Sydney. The resort comprises four areas — Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega —and its 47 lifts serve seven peaks and dozens of trails from June to October. Snow-shredding families can enjoy quality time together on these slopes since the resort offers a wide array of terrain catering to all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Plus, powder hounds have a handful of activities to choose from, including tobogganing and snow tubing. After a long day on the slopes, whet your palate with local cuisine and cocktails at the restaurants and bars onsite, then check out the dance clubs and cozy pubs filled with live music. A word of caution: Because skiing in Australia is such a novelty, carving powder comes attached to higher price tags.
Hintertuxer Gletscher-Zillertal, Tyrol, Austria
More than 50 miles of snowy terrain greets visitors to Hintertux Glacier in the Zillertal Alps mountain range in Austria. Open year-round, Hintertux is renowned for its challenging trails and steep pistes, enticing intermediate and advanced skiers. Gondolas, cable cars and lifts whisk riders up to the top of the mountain to begin their adventure. To keep the mountain in peak form, workers lay a protective fleece covering on the glacier each year to keep the snow and ice intact. The area also offers a handful of other outdoor pursuits. You can take a tour of Nature's Ice Palace, which boasts a spectacle of sparkling crevasses and frozen waterfalls, where visitors can learn about glaciers. Or, you can hop on a lift to Panorama Terrace, an observation deck that sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level and affords breathtaking views of Austria and Italy's mountain ranges. Keep in mind that the nightlife here is limited, so be prepared to take full advantage of the outdoors during the day and use the evening to relax.
Wanaka, New Zealand
Steep chutes and tricky terrain is the name of the game at Treble Cone. Located in the Southern Alps on the South Island in New Zealand, this resort (open from the end of June through September) is a playground for intermediate and expert skiers and boarders. Visitors say Treble Cone, which spans more than 1,300 acres, boasts some of the best snow in the world. Ski buffs can take advantage of pristine powder along two main basins while admiring gorgeous alpine scenery. (You can also purchase sightseeing-only tickets to ride the chairlift to check out soaring vistas of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring.) Meanwhile, more adventurous types can explore the area's extensive backcountry skiing. While about 90 percent of the terrain caters to more skilled skiers, Treble Cone does offer free lift tickets for beginners looking to tackle the bunny slopes. There is no lodging available at the mountain; however, visitors can stay in nearby Wanaka or Queenstown and must commute along the steep and winding access road to get to the resort. (All visitors are required to carry chains in their car in case of dangerous weather.)
[See: Best Skiing in the US]
If you're looking for snow in the summer, just keep heading south. Cerro Castor, located at the southern tip of South America, offers snow-covered slopes from June to August. Though not as sprawling or as well-known as Las Leñas in western Argentina, Cerro Castor offers its own unique charm. Skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of dozens of trails that boast awe-inspiring views of Argentine Patagonia's peaks. While Cerro Castor leans toward the smaller side, the resort's wide variety of trails provides something for every type of skier. Plus, beginners and intermediate skiers have plenty of lesson options: Half day, full day, private, group and ski school. Once you've hit the slopes, consider trying out the other activities Cerro Castor has to offer, like snow shoeing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. Should you need a break from the outdoor activity, try some traditional Argentinean fare at one of the restaurants on the mountain.
[In Pictures: Skiing in Summer?]