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- Ryan Thompson
The Snow Days of Summer
These 10 spots keep the stoke level strong year round.
By Darby Doyle
Yeah, yeah, this past snow season might have been one of the most lame-ass ones in recent memory. The upside? Getting to jump right into all the summer slopeside glory the region has to offer. As a mama of two teenage boys who are competitive freeride skiers and compete all summer and fall on mountain-bike teams, our family spends a lot of time exploring Utah's mountainous terrain. And as much as I love a good powder day or hike through Alpine wildflowers, I have a big ol' soft spot for the laid-back side of summer lovin'. Think free concerts, car shows, a red Solo cup of chilled rosé on a starry summer night. And all of it about 10-20 degrees cooler than down in the valley. Sigh. That's my kind of Sunday Funday.
Whether you're looking to gear up for a mountain adventure or get your groove on with some live tunes, these Utah resorts keep the stoke level high all summer long.
3925 Snowbasin Road, Huntsville, 801-620-1000, snowbasin.com
Since 1936, Snowbasin has been northern Utah's go-to family resort for year-round fun. This summer's Blues, Brews & BBQ Sunday afternoon concert series (pictured) looks like an absolute hoot, with free shows June through September by artists like Los Lobos, Frogleg, Slings & Arrows and local heroes Folk Hogan and Talia Keys. A family-friendly scene, the lawn shows feature acts from 12:30-5:30 p.m. Check out their Spotify playlist for a preview: bit.ly/BBBBQ2018
Starting June 9, the Needles Gondola runs Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for easy-peasy downhill hiking or biking access. After a day of outdoor adventure, snag a cold brew from the local on-tap selections on Earl's Patio, pair it with some award-winning barbecue and settle in for one of the best happy hour views in the Beehive. Even better: The kiddos can keep busy with mini golf, a climbing wall, bungee jump and adventure course while the grown-ups toast the sunset.
Utah Highway 158, 8000 N. 5100 East, Eden, 801-745-3772, powdermountain.com
For the best mid-week activities in the north, head up to Pow Mow on Thursday nights. Every other week through July and August hosts either a mountain bike race (with choices from 4 to 12 miles) or fun-run on the mountain's summer trail network. Pre-registration of $20 gets you a bib, timing, raffle ticket and two-for-one tacos. There are prizes for first place in each age division for men and women.
While you're there, you can indulge your classical side by supporting the Eden Artists in Residence program, which brings young string musicians to Utah each summer. Their rehearsal season culminates in four performances at the top of Powder Mountain in August and September.
Solitude Mountain Resort
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude, 801-534-1400, solitudemountain.com
Utah's covert mountain secret keeps the wide-open fun going all summer long, too. Trails are open for hiking and mountain biking from June 15 through the end of September, weather permitting. Lift service runs Friday-Sunday on the Sunrise chairlift from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., or guests can use their own locomotion to go uphill during daylight hours seven days a week. And Solitude's 18-hole disc golf course is one of the West's favorite high-altitude courses.
An annual foodie event favorite, this year's Taste of the Wasatch is at Solitude from noon-4 p.m. Aug. 5. The fundraiser to fight hunger features live music, nibbles from 50 of Utah's top chefs, and boutique wine and craft beer selections. Tickets and more info at tasteofthewasatch.org.
Wasatch Wildflower Festival
Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, cottonwoodcanyons.org
During the 2018 season, the four resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons take turns hosting the Wasatch Wildflower Festival, which is open to hikers and flora enthusiasts from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Guided hikes ranging from kid-friendly easy 45-minute strolls to up to three-hour challenging hikes, all with trained naturalist guides. The festival is free and there are discounted fees for hikes requiring chairlift/tram access. Parking gets crazy congested on host days, so plan ahead to carpool up if you can.
Brighton: Saturday, July 21
Solitude: Sunday, July 22
Alta: Saturday, July 28
Snowbird: Sunday, July 29
9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222, snowbird.com
The busy Snowbird summer activity season kicks off with the resort's annual Brewfest on June 9 and 10. For the best deal on getting the kids exhausted, purchase all-day activity passes ($17-$39; check website for hours and start dates) like tram and lift access to hiking and mountain-bike trails, a zipline, climbing wall and my kids' favorite, the 1,300-linear-foot twisty-turny Alpine slide.
Free family-friendly events on the Plaza Deck at Snowbird Center start mid-June, with lawn chairs and coolers welcome (drink responsibly). The free Cool Air Concert Series runs Saturday nights June 16-Aug. 11. Check out acts like Whitewater Ramble, Jared & The Mill and Ballroom Thieves. Sunday afternoons from noon- 3 p.m. Snowbird presents homegrown bands like The Nate Robinson Trio, Whiskey Fish and an always-popular show by the School of Rock's future rock stars in training. Free family movie nights on the Plaza Deck starting at dusk each Friday night are a big hit, too. This year's classics include the original Jumanji, Ghostbusters and Footloose.
When Men's Journal mag gives a shout out to a local beer fest, you know it's a big deal. Close out the season with a bang at Snowbird's annual Oktoberfest running weekends August-October (plus Labor Day).
Park City Mountain
1345 Lowell Ave., Park City, 435-649-8111, parkcitymountain.com
Cutting to the chase: The combined Park City Mountain and Canyons Village complex is freakin' huge. There's a shit-ton of stuff: gold panning, tubing for the kids, Alpine slides, ropes courses, you name it. There are also tons of free hiking and mountain-bike trails criss-crossing the resort, with very cool views of old mining equipment and facilities.
Locals get in on the action with Wednesday night Farmers Market at the Silver King parking lot, Thursday night trivia at Legends Bar & Grill and free live music on Saturday nights at Park City Mountain Village. Clear mountain air makes for some pretty spectacular fireworks shows, which are hosted July 3 and 4.
On Aug. 11, the Canyons Village hosts Stage 5 of the seven-day Tour of Utah road cycling race.
2250 Deer Valley Drive, Deer Valley, 435-649-1000, deervalley.com
Known as one of the West's premiere lift-served single-track mountain-bike networks, Deer Valley's baller trail system features 3,000 vertical feet of elevation change and 70 miles of trail, rated from beginner to advanced. Recently, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) awarded it the first Gold-Level Ride Center for great flow and variety. Depending on access, lift service rates are $12-$48; bike rental not included.
Deer Valley's Snow Park outdoor amphitheater hosts three summer concert series with very distinct emphases, though the Venn diagram of awesome is strong: The Decemberists, Gavin DeGraw plus Phillip Phillips, Gov't Mule and Jason Mraz for the Deer Valley Concert Series. For your classical and opera fix, check out Utah Symphony concerts with themes like Broadway hits by Sondheim and Webber, an ABBA tribute, and performances with Kristin Chenoweth, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Rick Springfield and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. We're sure there will be absolutely no covert special brownie consumption at the Aug. 11 symphony show of The Music of Pink Floyd. None at all.
Utah Olympic Park
3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City, 435-658-4200, utaholympiclegacy.org
From June through September, the site of the 2002 Olympic events like bobsledding, luge and ski jumping hosts similar summer activities. You can observe how the pros do it, or up the pucker factor launching your own body down the bobsled course ($75) or off the end of the ski jump landing zone with "extreme tubing" ($15 and up), rope courses, zipline treks or try out the poolside "splash zone" climbing wall.
You've probably seen videos of Olympic athletes summer training by launching themselves on skis or snowboards down ramps and landing in splash pools. See the real thing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons mid-June through Sept. 2 during the Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Shows at 1 p.m. (prices vary).
8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 1-800-892-1600, sundanceresort.com
It's not all about hiking, biking and ziplining at Sundance Mountain Resort (although they do have all of those things going on). One of the happenings that makes Sundance truly unique is the Summer Artist in Residence programs, where guests can see craftspeople at work. The resort also hosts two-hour art studio classes daily, with workshops like pottery, drawing, painting and jewelry, and hand-bound journal making. Sessions are available three times a day by appointment only at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Call 801-223-4535 for class info and aim to make a reservation at least a day in advance.
Want to explore Sundance from the saddle? Through Rocky Mountain Outfitters, the resort also offers one-hour Elk Meadows horseback trail rides ($65 per rider) and a two-hour Stewart Falls Trail Ride ($85 per rider). Children must be at least 8 years or older to participate. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and no double-riding is permitted. Schedule tours at least 72 hours in advance by calling 435-654-1655.
Brian Head Resort
329 S. Highway 143, Brian Head, 435-677-2035, brianhead.com
This just might be the best-kept weekend secret in Southern Utah. From its June 16 opening through Rocktoberfest on Sept. 15, skip the tourist craziness of the national parks and head up to Brian Head's cool pines for lift-served weekend hiking and biking access. Starting this summer in collaboration with Momentum Trail Concepts, a combination of chair lift and shuttle service links over 100 miles of bike trails, including gravity fed single track, terrain parks (with jumps, drops, walls and lots of natural and human-engineered features) and backcountry access. July 14 and 15, the resort celebrates new additions to the mountain bike park, with the Classic Rock N' Ride MTB Festival. Expect demo bikes, backcountry shuttles and I'm guessing a shitload of swag from the many vendors and live music groups who'll be there ($10 cover charge, kids 12 & under free; all bike and mountain activity passes are extra).
Brian Head's also got lots of super chill laid-back (brewski in hand, of course) activities like The Main Event live music show June 30 and July 1, an impressive Fourth of July celebration, and an annual car show on July 27. The Aug. 11 all-day Festival of Flavors (in conjunction with the Flyin' Brian downhill bike race) has live bands and lots of beer, wine and spirit vendors. You know, so you can sip a glass of pinot grigio and watch the cringeworthy crashes from the comfort of the Patio Grill.