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Summer fun on the slopes

Adventure parks around the country are offering a smorgasbord of active pursuits at low season rates. These six mountain resorts offer plenty of snowless — and affordable summer getaways.
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As the quest for an affordable family getaway heats up this summer, many savvy parents are packing up the kids and hitting the slopes. One of the happiest trends in family travel in the last decade is how ski resorts have transformed themselves into year-round destinations. The National Ski Areas Association estimates that over half of US ski resorts now have significant summer operations. When temperatures rise and the white stuff disappears, family adventure parks pop up, offering a smorgasbord of active pursuits from alpine slides, summer tubing hills, and ziplines to chairlift-assisted mountain biking, bungee trampolines, and soft playzones for young children. The best part? Low season at ski resorts means lots of stay-and-play bargains. Here’s a sample of six mountain resorts offering big snowless fun for families this summer.

Where: Little Cottonwood Canyon, UtahWhy: Because this award-winning winter resort has been making a name for itself with an impressive list of summer family adventures. You can ride an enclosed tram 11,000 feet up the side of the mountain to Hidden Peak, or take a scenic ride on the high-speed Peruvian four-person chairlift to a mineral basin where hiking trails, horseback rides, and ATV tours await. Snowbird’s toybox includes an alpine slide, 1,000-foot zipline, and—just for little ones—an inflatable bounce house. Stay-and-play packages start at $75 per person, including lodging, breakfast, and all-day activities passes to the adventure park and attractions. Children under 6 can stay in their parents’ room for free; parents can buy kids all-day passes for $19 per child weighing under 75 pounds and $32 per child weighing 75 pounds or more.

Where: Bartlett, N.H.Why: Because this resort in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains has bragging rights on the longest alpine slide in North America, which tops out at one mile. The resort also features four waterslides, horseback riding, mountain biking, and Buddy Bear’s Play Pool for preschoolers. The whole family can take the one-hour “sky ride” to the summit, where an observation tower affords an incredible view of the valley. “Slide and Ride” packages start at $55 per person and include lodging at the scenic Attitash Grand Summit Hotel and all-day passes for unlimited use of summer attractions.

Where: Sandpoint, IdahoWhy: Because the popular Great Escape package is back again this summer, giving families the opportunity to create their own adventure by spending “adventure bucks” any way they like. Kids can fly high on the bungee jump trampoline, scale the climbing wall, or check out the giant checkers and chess board. You can also redeem your “bucks” for disc golf, geocaching, spa treatments, golf, dining, or mountain bike and boat rentals. Take a chairlift ride to the top of the mountain, then hike down while picking huckleberries along the way. The Great Escape Package starts at $59 per person, including lodging and $30 worth of “adventure bucks” per person per day.

Where: Thompsonville, Mich.Why: Because this family-owned resort just unveiled several new attractions this summer, including Michigan’s only alpine slide, the Crystal Coaster. Also new this year is disc golf, giant checkers and the Picnic Entertainment Series with puppet shows, birds-of-prey programs and interactive music. After tackling the climbing wall, kids can cool off in the giant outdoor water playground and its 4,200-square-foot pool with zero-depth entry and play structure complete with waterslides, obstacle courses, water jets and other gadgets. In late August, three-night packages start at $149 a night and include lodging in a one-bedroom condo, plus a family wall climb, chairlift ride, alpine slide ride, and discounts on tubing trips, golf, and sessions in the Adventure Camp for kids.

Where: Davis, W.V.Why: Because this lesser-known ski resort delivers an intimate, small-town atmosphere perfect for a family getaway. A huge roster of active pursuits is sure to keep your family busy, starting with summer tubing, geocaching, mini golf, a climbing wall, hayrides, and scenic chairlift rides. Older kids can tackle paintball, a skate park, climbing wall, and bungee trampoline, while little ones hang out in the Kid’s Korner, which offers games, crafts, and nature hikes. The Ultimate Thriller package starts at $241 per person for a three-night stay (or about $80 per person per night) and includes lodging, breakfast, scenic chairlift ride, mini golf, trail map, one-hour horseback ride, whitewater rafting trip, summer tubing, and use of pool and saunas.

Where: Durango, Colo.Why: Because this family-focused resort goes above and beyond with summer events and outdoor adventures. Purgatory Village offers an alpine slide, climbing wall, mini-golf course, and a bungee trampoline. Take your kids to the Durango Mining Company, where they just might strike it rich panning for gems and fossils. Or sign them up for the Purgatory Adventure daycamp, where they’ll go hiking, play disc golf, take on the ropes course, and participate in other team-building activities. You can rent a mountain bike or, if you like bigger thrills, make it a mountain scooter—part mountain bike, scooter, and snowboard. All summer long, Purgatory offers live music concerts and events such as the Family Fun Fest, where face painting, root beer floats, and magicians rule the day. The Rocky Mountain Summer Getaway package starts at $59 per person and includes lodging and half-day activities passes for the alpine slide, climbing wall, summer chairlift, mini golf, mountain biking, and hiking.

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