Summer’s not a bummer: top 20 cool summer ski resorts

Newsroom Travel Summer’s not a bummer: top 20 cool summer ski resorts

Skiing in the summer (or very late spring) when the weather warms above the equator means heading to the highest peaks of North America and Europe or flying to the Southern Hemisphere—New Zealand, Australia, Chile, or Argentina—where the winter season is in full swing from June to October… but upside down.

If you’re more than just a fair-weather skier or rider who needs to stretch their season or potentially all year long, stop wondering. Check out our 20 picks of the coolest ski resorts for skiing in summer around the world.

1. HINTERTUX, Austria

carving_slopes_hintertux_glacier
Carving up the slopes on the Hintertux Glacier. Credit: Hintertux Tourist Office

The Hintertux is one of the few remaining glaciers that’s open for skiing 365 days a year, making it obviously one of the longest seasons in the world. Up to 20 km of slopes are open for summer skiing. The runs are accessible via 10 lifts, including the Glacier Bus 3, capable of transporting 3,000 skiers per hour. The Hintertux offers a good range of runs for all levels but is famous for its steep, challenging terrain. Freestyle fans have their choice from five lines—Pro Line, Medium Line, Easy Line, 2 Jib Lines—at Betterpark Hintertux. Betterpark is open from April to the beginning of June, during summer break, and then open again from mid-September. The Tuxer Sportbus is a free bus service, which operates year-round transporting guests from Vorderlanersbach, Lanersbach, Juns, or Madseit to the bottom of the glacier.

2. KAPRUN, Austria

Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn
Kaprun – Kitzsteinhorn

The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun has a large, nearly year-round ski area boasting varied runs and a terrain park. Consider it for the longest season challenger. Intermediate skiers and riders will feel particularly at home here. Chill out at the Ice Camp (open January to April) with its igloos, ice bar, food court, and sun deck with lounge chairs, the perfect spot to relax and listen to music. Non-skiers can take free guided panoramic hikes across the glacier.

3. DACHSTEIN, Austria

Summer skiing in Les 2 Alpes
Summer skiing in Les 2 Alpes. Credit: Kathy Ribier

The Dachstein Glacier, among the mountains with year-round snow, sits above Ramsau am Dachstein. It features flat, north-facing slopes for predictable snow. That said, Dachstein’s alpine skiing offering during the summer months is heavily dependent on weather and snow conditions. Dachstein is the international training center for cross-country skiers, bi-athletes, and Nordic combination athletes. Gondola reservations are required in the summertime and can be made easily via phone. Non-skiers have the Dachstein Skywalk, Dachstein Ice Palace, and for the most daring, the suspension bridge and stairway to nowhere. Food and drinks are served at the Glacier Restaurant directly in the mountain station of the Dachstein Gletscherbahn.

4. LES 2 ALPES, France

Les 2 Alpes has one of the largest summer ski glaciers in Europe, with access to skiing between 3200 and 3600 meters in less than 30 minutes. The Mont-de-Lans Glacier is open from late June to late August. A funicular railway, gondola, chairlifts and drags for a combo of 17 ski lifts transport skiers up to 220 acres (90 ha) of prepared glacier (nine blue slopes, one green slope, and two red slopes). The snowpark at Les 2 Alpes rivals that of Saas-Fee’s glacier, with its slopestyle and big air, cool zone, half-pipe, and Easy Park suitable for beginners. The slopes and lifts are open every day from 7 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., and ski camps run throughout the summer.

5. TIGNES, France

The Grande Motte Glacier has varied terrain—blue, red and black runs—accessed by chairlifts and drags. The summer ski area is open from late June to early August and serves up 20 km of of pistes plus freestyle terrain, cross-country skiing and a restaurant with a view. So, yes, you can ski in the Alps during the summer. It takes less than 10 minutes to get up to the base of the glacier on the underground funicular from Tignes. The glacier closes at 1 p.m., which is a perfect time to take your skis down to the water ramps on the lake.

6. ZERMATT, Switzerland

Theodul Glacier, Zermatt
Klein Matterhorn cable car transports skiers up to the Theodul Glacier, Zermatt. Credit: Ollie O’Brien

Open year-round, Zermatt has a whopping 21 km of summer skiing on its Theodul Glacier, the highest and largest summer skiing operation in Europe. In addition to snow-sure pistes, the freestyle Snowpark Zermatt provides one of the best views of the iconic Matterhorn. Zermatt visitors can enjoy a variety of summer ski school options with plenty of examples of good form all around as they share the slopes with ski teams in training. Zermatt summer skiing is available until noon. Best bet is to hit the mountain early for the best conditions.

7. SAAS FEE, Switzerland

Half-pipe in Saas-Fee's snowpark, Switzerland
Hit the half-pipe in Saas-Fee’s snowpark, Switzerland. Credit: Saas-Fee

The Allalin Glacier offers summer and fall skiing from mid-July to late October. The lifts run until between 12-3 p.m. depending on the time of year, but it takes an hour to reach the glacier. Get up early to avoid the slush. The 20-kilometer ski area, just edged in size by Zermatt’s glacier, is well suited to intermediates and is particularly popular with freestylers and race teams. The snowpark has a half-pipe, kickers, rails, boxes and transitions in all shapes and sizes to suit all skill levels. Take a break at the Chill Out Zone with music and couches located below the pipe. The glacier also has a restaurant and sun terrace serving lunch and beers.

8. WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, British Columbia

How about summer skiing and riding in Canada? Get in an early-morning mountain bike ride then head up to the Horstman Glacier, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between mid-June and late July each year for summer skiing. It is a scenic 45-minute ride up to the glacier via three chairlifts, with views of the entire Whistler Valley from the top. The glacier, served by T-bars, requires advanced to expert skiing ability level. Lunch is served at the European-inspired Horstman Hut, perched at the summit of Blackcomb Mountain.

9. TIMBERLINE LODGE, Oregon

Mammoth has long season
Riding in the long Mammoth season

Located about an hour and a half drive from Portland, Timberline Lodge runs the longest ski season in North America—the Palmer Express high-speed quad lift allows the mountain to operate typically June 1st through Labor Day and many years for weekends into the fall as well. The resort grooms several lanes across Palmer Snowfield located on the south face of Mt. Hood. During the warmer months, Timberline Lodge is primarily used for summer ski racing and freestyle camps. It is the summer site for the U.S. Ski, Freeskiing and Snowboarding teams. One lane above-treeline terrain is available for public use. Freestyle terrain parks are a major draw for Timberline Lodge skiers and riders in the summer months. Start in the Mile Canyon and then move up to Palmer snowfield in the later summer. Advanced skill level skiers and riders should play here. Scary factoid: “The Shining” was filmed here.

10. MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, California

This popular High Sierra playground, about 350 miles north from Los Angeles, has long been the favorite of skier and riders from Southern California. Unlike the glaciers, your window for early summer skiing is sometimes short and sometimes a bit longer, depending on the winter snowpack. The longest closing date for Mammoth is Aug. 6 in the 2017-18 season. Still, the mountain has closed around July 4 15 times since the 1968-69 season. Packages are available and ski school is operating. Here’s a tip; afternoon lessons are less expensive, but the snow is slushier.

11. SQUAW VALLEY, California

The best bet for a long spring into the summer season around California’s beautiful Lake Tahoe is at Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Squaw often makes its way into July with soft bumps, corned snow and some groomed runs. You might want to ski or ride in the morning and waterski on the lake in the afternoon. Or ski and golf. High Camp at 8,200 feet is a popular spot for snow sports in the morning and activities like disc golf, hiking, swimming in an outdoor pool and more in the afternoon.

12. ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colorado

A-Basin summer
Colorado’s longest season is almost always at A-Basin.

Lots of travelers head to the Rockies during the summer, but skiers come first. Most of the terrain is above tree-level, so much of the snow pile hangs around into late spring and sometimes early summer. A-Basin is generally the last North American resort to close for the season. The latest closing date ever was Aug. 10, 1995. It’ll feel like summer anyway if you tailgate in the Early Riser lot, a.k.a. The Beach. Besides, it’s just a 1.5-hour drive from Denver.

13. LAS LEÑAS, Argentina

Let’s head to the Southern Hemisphere for a full summer season, the opposite time of winter in North America. Las Leñas is one of the highest ski resorts in Argentina and boasts reliable snow. The mountain’s 43,000 acres (17,500 hectares) (of pistes (30 runs) are suited to skiers and riders of all levels. Advanced and expert skiers come for the deep off-piste powder. Some of the best powder can be found on the steep bowl and long couloirs accessed from the Marte chairlift. Various ski instruction programs can keep your skills at a high level. More advanced skiers can embark on an adventure into untouched powder with a guide. Those programs are called Out of Track and Extreme Expedition. Three on-mountain restaurants serve refreshments and an array of dishes, French cuisine to stews, salads and various sandwiches.

14. CERRO CATEDRAL, Argentina

Cerro Catedral ski Argentina
PowderQuest client Cerro Catedral skis Argentina. Credit: Maxi Artoni

Cerro Catedral is one of the biggest ski areas in South America. Its 120 km (75 miles) of runs offer beautiful views of Nahuel Huapi Lake. The 34 lifts include a modern bubble and six-seater chairlift. The slopes are sprinkled with numerous mountain huts for snacks and refreshments. The mountain offers a multitude of non-skiing activities, including various tours, a snowcat ride, tubing, sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

15. VALLE NEVADO, Chile

Sunshine skiing in Valle Nevado Chile
Sunshine skiing in Valle Nevado, Chile

Valle Nevado has plenty of sunshine and plenty of snow. The 37 km (24 miles) of runs are served by some of the most modern lifts in South America, including the very first gondola in Chile as part of a 10-year, $150 million Master Development Plan that will lead to a complete Mountain Village at the base of the resort. The ski area links with neighboring El Colorado and La Parva to make up the Tres Valles of the Andes for a combined 7,000 acres, 40 chairlifts and four base villages.

16. SKI PORTILLO, Chile

Ski Portillo’s owners have strived to keep it small and intimate. There is no town, no shopping center, not even a ubiquitous Starbucks. There is just one big yellow hotel, which accommodates 400 people at a time. That means there are rarely any lift lines and slopes do not suffer from overcrowding. Portillo features 1,235 acres of skiable terrain across 14 lifts and 35 trails with long groomed runs accessed by chairs and drags. For advanced/expert skiers, it’s the freeriding that is the major draw with its abundance of steep off-piste faces. Heli operations are available to take you to even higher elevations and descents. Portillo also has countless hike-to backcountry areas, and the resort’s high altitude means skiing back to your ski-in hotel is the norm.

17. CORONET PEAK, New Zealand

Snowboarder taking in the views at Coronet Peak, New Zealand
Snowboarder taking in the views at Coronet Peak, New Zealand. Credit: Adrian Pua

Coronet Peak is one of the most popular ski resort on the South Island of New Zealand, also in the Southern Hemisphere with opposite winters from No. America. The resort is just 20 minutes away from Queenstown. The varied terrain offers something for everyone. Beginners and intermediates have wide blue and red runs while more advanced skiers can hit the terrain park or test their stamina on the longest run, the “M-1”, stretching 2.4 km (1.5 miles). The resort is known for its efficient high-speed chairlifts and night skiing offered several evenings a week. The mountain’s Skiwiland – My First Ski School is a fully licensed Early Learning Centre with the NZ Ministry of Education that caters to children 3 months to 5 years old.

18. TREBLE CONE, New Zealand

Skiing powder atop Treble Cone, NZ
Skiing powder atop Treble Cone, NZ. Credit: Treble Cone/Ben Skinner

Treble Cone, in Lake Wanaka, covers two basins—the Saddle and Home basin. Both provide some of the best freeriding in New Zealand. Fans of steep and challenging terrain claim Treble Cone has some of the best in the country, with close to half the mountain dedicated to advanced terrain. Expert riders can take guided tours out to the Motatapu Chutes. Beginners and intermediates are not left out however with plenty of long, un-crowded runs.

19. PERISHER, Australia

Perisher in New South Wales is the largest ski area in Australia (and the Southern Hemisphere, for that matter). It is made up of four villages: Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Simiggins Holes and Guthega, all of which are connected and offer varied terrain. It’s about a six-hour drive from Sydney, and you’ll find plenty of skiing on seven mountain peaks accessed by 47 lifts, including a high-speed eight-seater. Most of the area is intermediate, but beginners and advanced skiers will also find their spots. Freestyle fans will love the five terrain parks and a super-pipe.

20. THREDBO, Australia

Thredbo summer
It’s summer at Thredbo when winter in North America

Thredbo in New South Wales has been named the best ski resort in OZ by the World Ski Awards on several occasions. There’s generally plenty of snow for all ages to play on with a large array of lessons and special programs and events all “Down Under” winter. Adventurous? You can reach Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest point via the Kosciuszko Express chairlift. The longest run is the Supertail at 3.7km. Thredbo has an exciting village right at the base of the mountain so there’s plenty to do when you’re off the mountain.

Recap

The best ski resorts for summer skiing around the world are:

  1. Hintertux, Austria
  2. Kaprun, Austria
  3. Dachstein, Austria
  4. Les 2 Alpes, France
  5. Tignes, France
  6. Zermatt, Switzerland
  7. Saas Fee, Switzerland
  8. Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
  9. Timberline Lodge, Oregon
  10. Mammoth Mountain, California
  11. Squaw Valley, California
  12. Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
  13. Las Leñas, Argentina
  14. Cerro Catedral, Argentina
  15. Valle Nevado, Chile
  16. Ski Portillo, Chile
  17. Coronet Peak, New Zealand
  18. Treble Cone, New Zealand
  19. Perisher, Australia
  20. Thredbo, Australia

 

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