Best Ski Towns To Visit In Summer

If you missed ski season, you're just in time: These towns are heating up

If you missed ski season, good for you. Summer, surprisingly, is often the busiest season in North America's favorite ski towns.

Imagine climbing into a gondola without skis, boots or poles, and soaring above budding slopes and peaks—in shorts, not a shapeless snowsuit. While snow mostly melts away, the season brings warm-weather thrills, from wildflowers to white-water rafting, as travelers flock to mountain towns for crisp air and sunshine.

Besides off-season discounts, here's one more guarantee: These six ski towns are just heating up.

Keith Flanagan is a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer—he's never met a pastry he didn't eat. Follow his every meal on Instagram at @keithflanny.

Whistler, British Columbia

In Whistler, skiers can ski through July (only on Horstman Glacier but still). But it's Whistler's valley that greets the warmer months with open arms; with championship golf courses and scenic hiking and biking trails, it's no wonder the region hosts more visitors in summer than in winter. Trade après-ski for après-sundown on Nita Lake Lodge's expanded deck or sip on Bar Oso's elaborate list of gin and tonics.

Photo: stockstudiox/Getty Images

Telluride, Colorado

It's an over-the-top winter wonderland for skiers (and Oprah), but after spring's annual Bluegrass Festival, locals live for Telluride's summers. No weekend escapes without a festival—themes range from film to yoga to mushrooms—and the town's frontier charm really shines on boutique-packed Main Street. Waterfalls continue to plummet, as do the rates: In summer, the posh five-room Dunton Town House averages $100 less per room, per night.

Photo: Telluride Ski Resort via Facebook

Park City, Utah

When the country's hottest ski destination actually gets hot, it doesn't waste an inch of altitude: Park City Mountain's 4,000-foot alpine coaster hurtles down the mountain, and one of the world's longest alpine slides is more than 3,000 feet. Ski runs turn into 110-foot-high zip lines; on the ground, some 400 miles of bike trails round out the dizzying numbers game. Plus, the destination scores with off-season discounts—on average, more than half off at Montage Deer Valley.

Photo: Park City Mountain via Facebook

Banff, Alberta

For breathtaking vistas, nowhere beats Banff. Thanks to glacier melt water, the iconic Lake Louise shines a turquoise hue during summer as canoes dot the water. Sans snowshoe, Banff's trails are easier to hike, and you can hop from lake to lake while on the lookout for bighorn sheep and elusive grizzly bears. Lake Agnes Tea House is one for the summer bucket list; the humble family-run cabin café, which opens every year in June, is perched at the end of a forested two-mile hike.

Photo: Edwin Chang Photography/Getty Images

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Leave your skis at home, but don't forget your saddle. Jackson Hole, with its old western attitude, is the place to go wild; 97 percent of the land is protected. Horseback rides and fly-fishing abound, and the famous rodeo kicks off in May and runs all summer. And though you can behave like a cowboy, there's no need to eat like one; Persephone Bakery is beloved for its kouign-amann pastries and pea and ricotta toast, while the decades-old Snake River Grill serves a signature steak tartare pizza—ritzy yet rustic.

Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort via Facebook

Stowe, Vermont

The chill is less biting, but Vermont keeps its cool in summer—as does Stowe, tucked in the Green Mountains. Known for its slopes, New England-style lodges and farm-to-table dining, Stowe also offers the 273-mile Long Trail, the country's oldest long-distance trail; seasonal adventures like canoeing; and ample opportunity to brewery-hop.

Photo: Topnotch Resort, Stowe Vermont via Facebook