When the summer sun melts the snow, the mountains don’t close down. They take on a new face. The zip lines come out, the roller coasters turn on and the gondolas keep rolling. You’ll find crazy festivals (like an entire party about bacon), live music, hikes and scenery for days.
Colorado’s ski towns may be famous for their powder, but they’re just as fun for a summer vacation. Here are some of the best ways to experience summer fun at Colorado’s ski resorts. No skiing necessary.
The Mountain Bike Uplift, Purgatory Ski Resort
This takes some of the pain out of mountain biking and trades it for great views. Take the gondola up the mountain at the Purgatory Ski Resort with your mountain bike and get access to miles of singletrack to explore on wheels. Divinity Flow Trail is a popular one.
Looking to gain or improve your bike handling skills? Purgatory offers biking lessons.
The Mountain Bike Uplift comes with your Total Adventure Ticket, which you can buy at the main ticket office. The Total Adventure Ticket allows you to choose five or 10 different warm-weather, alpine adventures at Purgatory, like a mountain coaster, ropes course or bungee trampoline.
Get Zen on a Mountaintop, Aspen/Snowmass
Take the gondola to the top of the mountain and enjoy Mountain Yoga and meditation every morning Monday through Fridays throughout the summer. Every other day is one hour of open-air Hatha yoga or meditation, set in pristine nature on Aspen Mountain with an 11,000-foot altitude and views to match. Classes are inexpensive (but don’t forget to tally in the price of the gondola) and open to all levels. Afterward, either go on a backcountry wildflower hike or head to the Sundeck for lunch.
Get to the yoga deck via the Silver Queen Gondola (you'll have to buy a daily sightseeing pass to use it, but it does come with sights to see). If you want save money and get in some more exercise, hike or even run up the trail. It will take you one to two hours, depending on your pace. And remember, you have to hike back down.
Go Mountain Scootering, Purgatory Ski Resort
Scooters aren’t just for streets. At least not in Purgatory. Rent a Diggler “mountain scooter” and take it out on rough terrain. These scooters are designed to carve more like a skateboard than a traditional scooter, so they handle more like bikes and can go quickly. They’re great for families, first-timers and travelers of all levels. Also, they're novel. And there's some real value in doing something you've never done before.
If mountain biking sounds too grueling for you, do a Diggler for two hours and don’t miss the views or the rush of the wind in your hair.
Hitch a Free Lift, Copper Mountain Ski Resort
So you’re on a budget. Copper believes views should be free for everyone. Take Copper Mountain’s American Eagle chairlift for free both up (to 11,375 feet above sea level) and back down every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (weather permitting). Copper claims to be the only ski resort in the nation that offers free lift rides. So grab your free pass from guest services, stick up a thumb and hop on.
Note: You do have to make a $12 purchase in Copper Village to get your pass.
Beyond the gondola, Copper has lots to offer in the summer, including Summit County's only go-kart track, a ninja obstacle course and disc golf.
Go on a Monster Zip Line, Crested Butte
If you want to fly high, head to Crested Butte for its crazy zip line course, spanning five different zip lines, connected by towers and suspended bridges — just to add an extra adrenaline rush. This guided tour takes 90 minutes to two hours and provides you a bird’s eye view of the mountains. You can also pair your zip line tour with rafting: zip the morning away and round up the afternoon on the water.
Not feeling that brave? A serene hike through the trees is a wonderful way to spend your summer in Colorado.
Watch Movies on the Mountain, Steamboat
Colorado’s beautiful summer weather and clear skies lend itself to movies under the stars. In the summer, Steamboat Springs rolls out movies every Saturday night at sunset on the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square. Movies on the Mountain are family-friendly, but leave your fur babies at home. Bring a picnic blanket and some cash for snacks and drinks.
The Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in July is another popular community event.
Climb Colorado’s Largest Outdoor Wall, Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain has a ton of adventures in the summer, from go-karts to bumper boats to bungee jumps, but one thing this resort is known for is its crazy climbing wall. It’s the largest outdoor climbing wall in the state. You don’t have to be a pro to tackle it, either. There are routes for all levels.
It might seem silly to have an outdoor climbing wall right next to the mountains, but consider this great preparation for when you take on the real deal.
Ride Horses to Dinner, Vail
You can't just drive to this restaurant. In the winter, exclusive Game Creek in Vail is only accessible via snowcat. In the summer, you can reach here via a romantic horseback ride, a hike or by a four-wheel-drive shuttle.
Game Creek is perched near the Game Creek chair lift (hence its name), and it serves high-end, five-star, American food (although the restaurant itself is reminiscent of a European chalet in the mountains). This one-of-a-kind dining experience is truly a highlight of Vail year-round, but especially in the summer, when it also serves Sunday Brunch. Otherwise, it's only open Thursday through Saturday for dinner.
Beyond Game Creek, Gail's Adventure Ridge is a fun way to get on top of the mountain and offers plenty of entertainment and action, such as zip lines, disc golf, guided nature hikes, snow-less sledding, an alpine coaster, obstacle courses and kid activities, too. Pick an ecology hike, look for wildflowers and prepare to snap tons of pictures, because the views from the top of Vail Mountain in the summer are beyond breathtaking, and you don't even have to lose your breath to get there. The gondola brings you straight to the peak.
Of course, just walking through downtown Vail and shopping is entertainment enough. Visit the distillery and chocolate shop.
Slide Down the Mountain, Winter Park
Winter Park is beautiful in the summer, especially while whizzing down the mountain on the state's longest alpine slide. In total, it's more than 3,000 feet long.
Take the Arrow Lift to the top of the mountain (and take in the scenery while you're going up), and then slide down the thrilling 610-vertical-foot plunge. Alpine slides are similar to bobsledding, where you go down on a sled with a brake, which helps control the sled.
At Winter Park during the summer, you can also play on an 18-hole putt-putt golf course, wind through a human maze and play on a climbing wall, bungee, "bouncy snow cat" (that's how this ski town does an inflatable bouncy house), play a round of disc golf and more.
If you're looking for something a bit slower, there are always massages and a day at the spa. Winter Park has five different spas to choose between, including the luxurious Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa.