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Taking the Kids: To ski country in summer

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Chat up a local in Ski Country and they will tell you they came for the winter and ended up staying for the summer. That would include my daughter Mel, who went to Crested Butte, Colorado, for a season after college and nearly 10 years later, is still there, working as a planner for the Town of Crested Butte and finishing grad school.

It’s a no-brainer. The chance to hike and bike amid the gorgeous wildflowers, with miles and miles of bike and mountain trails. There are free outdoor concerts, bountiful farmer’s markets, movies under the stars, unique museums (perhaps for rainy days), guided hikes, golf, tennis, festivals and more. Did I mention mountain towns are exceedingly pet-friendly? And once you get there, say Park City, Utah, Breckenridge, or Aspen, Colorado, you won’t need a car.

I’ve always loved mountain towns in summer, especially because so many activities are free or nearly free. Think out of the box. For example, Cheyenne, Wyoming, offers access to the mountains and Medicine Bow National Forest and plenty of free western entertainment complete with Wild West shows.

For example, in Park City, Utah, there are 400 miles of trails, a free bus system, free Olympic Park Museum and free Park City Sunday Market.

“Park City is not as crowded as so many international destinations opening,” suggested Dan Howard, vice president of Visit Park City. He noted that while Park City has many luxury hotel options, there are many affordable ones, starting with YotelPad at a little more than $100 a night.

The softening could be attributed to more properties being fully open, as well as gas prices, suggested Rose Abello, tourism director for Snowmass Tourism.


Snowmass, about eight miles and a 15-minute bus ride from Aspen, boasts plenty of free activities, including guided hikes amidst the wildflowers with a naturalist from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Ice Age Discovery (the Snowmass paleontological site where thousands of bones have been found is the richest high altitude Ice Age ecosystem). There are free Thursday night concerts, Sunset Tuesdays at Elk Camp on the mountain with extended hours at the Snowmass Bike Park and Lost Forest adventure park, and Movies Under the Stars at Snowmass village. There is a new free Bayer Center museum, among the many options in Aspen. (Visit the resident rescue raptors at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies or take a ride on the famous rail trail.)

In Aspen, the well-appointed Gant Aspen has introduced a Minimalist Package with savings up to 20 percent as long as you forgo housekeeping.

Rent bikes and e-bikes , stand-up paddle boards and more this summer in big ski towns, including Vail and Telluride, Colorado, and Mammoth, California, for the first time from Black Tie Ski Rentals, the largest ski and snowboard rental delivery service . Gear will be delivered to your lodging.

No worries if someone in the family has special challenges. Adaptive ski centers have many summer activities, including challenge courses, mountain biking and more at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Crested Butte, Colorado; the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. (There typically are sliding price scales.)


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