5 Top Ski Spots to Visit in the Off-Peak Season
Consider a shoulder season getaway for few crowds, great deals and striking scenery.
Embrace pleasant temperatures and activities, such as kayaking, hiking and cycling in bargain-friendly locales.(Getty Images)
There once was a time when ski resorts shut their doors soon after the last snowflakes of the year fell. But nowadays, many prime ski spots offer activities for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year, ranging from wooded yoga retreats to zip lining, along with mountainside music festivals and scenic gondola sky rides. Best of all, in the warmer months, ski settings transform into elaborate water parks that offer opportunities for water-based recreational activities, along with hiking, biking and bird watching. If you're ready to enjoy idyllic ski towns at off-peak prices, read on and start planning your getaway.
With a history dating back to 1963, Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains first cut ski slopes across old logging trails. The sport's popularity quickly grew and Camelback now attracts hundreds of thousands of skiers each year. That number of visitors has been matched by Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, the state's largest water park, which features 37 slides and attractions.
Visitors frequent Camelback Mountain during the summer season for not only the water park but also to experience the thrill of its Mountain Coaster, a 4,500-foot steel track that traverses through the trees and down the steep slopes of Camelback Mountain that requires no experience, only an adventurous attitude. Whether you book a flight on the Twin Zip-Flyer, fly down the mountain on the Dual Zip-Line or explore the Pocono Mountains through the TreeTops Adventure Course, Camelback Mountain Resort will quench your thirst for outdoor adventure.
Park City, Utah
Deer Valley Resort exudes elegance. From its ski valets to its heated sidewalks, everything on the property has been designed to please its guests. Its world-renowned mountain hosted the freestyle mogul and Alpine slalom events of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Each summer, visitors can enjoy concerts at the beautiful Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, located slopeside, behind Snow Park Lodge. With a full calendar of shows performing on Deer Valley's stage multiple times a week, it's the perfect way to conclude a fun-filled day in Park City. Or take in grand views of the Wasatch and Uinta mountains as you enjoy a leisurely chairlift ride up Silver Lake Express from the base, Sterling Express at mid-mountain or Ruby Express at Empire Canyon. At the top, stretch your legs and explore one of the many hiking trails that snake through Deer Valley.
Lake Placid, New York
Nestled within the majestic Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid bills itself as the premier winter sports capital of the world. And it's a claim that's hard to dispute. Home to two Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid's Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the country and boasts the east's most impressive vertical footage.
Summer at Lake Placid features some of the best rock climbing in the Adirondacks. From the biggest cliff in the east to secluded wilderness walls and backcountry crags, Lake Placid's High Peaks region offers a variety of challenging terrain for climbers of all ability levels. And boat lovers will discover that paddling options abound throughout the region. Pristine water in the area feeds miles of accessible rivers and crystal clear lakes, making Lake Placid and the High Peaks region a favorite paddling destination. Whether you want to canoe, kayak, whitewater raft or paddleboard, the Adirondack Park offers over 2,300 ponds and lakes, 1,500 miles of rivers and well over 30,000 miles of streams and brooks.
[See: Skiing in Summer?]
Red River, New Mexico
Red River has a rich and unique heritage. In the 1870s, when explorers, fur trappers and prospectors discovered the area, they put River City, as Red River was first called, on the map. As the years went on, the region transformed itself into a tourist area complete with downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobile adventures. Impressive snowmaking and skilled grooming make Red River Ski Area one of the best places to ski in the Southwest.
Off-highway vehicle and jeep tours ensure that four-wheel drive thrill-seekers are provided with multiple options that fulfill their adventurous spirits. Because this area is ripe with public land, there are hundreds of miles of roads and challenging trails. Guided tours are a great bet for families as skilled drivers (and storytellers) weave history, ghost stories and other lore into their trip. Visits to abandoned cabins and gold mines – and gold panning – are often part of the experience. Known far and wide as a fisherman's paradise, Red River provides the fishing aficionado with excellent lake fishing, wild streams and special waters that adhere to a catch-and-release policy.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky's name says it all. Skiers and snowboarders at the iconic Big Sky Resort feel as though the sky is the limit as they traverse some of the most challenging terrain in the country. The resort's collaboration with Moonlight Basin forms the nation's largest ski complex with 5,800 acres and 4,350 vertical feet.
And Big Sky knows no boundaries when it comes to summer activity. For a unique personal or team challenge, try Big Sky's High Ropes Course. Guests are secured with a harness as they attempt acrobatic stunts, such as the Pirates Crossing or Swinging Beams under the supervision of a skilled guide. Or you can reminisce about your childhood days on a Giant Swing, an exhilarating activity that takes swingers of all ages 30 feet in the air. And you prefer bows and arrows, with Lone Peak as your back drop, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better location to hone your archery skills. Archers use a Genesis compound bow while shooting at four targets set 15 yards away. Bull's eyes are optional.
Why You Should Plan a High-Altitude Adventure in the Off Season
A mountain vacation sans skiing is an experience unlike any other. Ski resorts that cater to visitors throughout the year have upped the ante recently by adding an array of exhilarating attractions that entice travelers who seek an active vacation. And the truth is, a vacation without snow doesn't translate to a lack of fun. On the contrary, spring and summer mountain activities now provide options for guests looking to take outdoor enjoyment to a whole new level.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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