The clear, cool air, seemingly endless views and lush green slopes make ski areas as attractive in the summer as they are when swathed in snow and skiers carve gentle arcs across the mountain.
Summer has a different vibe. Long days mean you can slow down, relax and take things at a slower pace—unless you’re pointing the front tire of a mountain bike down a ribbon of dirt and careening through the trees at ski racer speeds.
Not your thing? No problem. Take a scenic chairlift ride, go for a casual hike, catch a concert, have a beer, grab a burger or try many other activities ski resorts offer in the summer.
The options may not be endless, but they’re pretty darn diverse. I’ve paid numerous summer visits to south/central Idaho’s big four resorts—Bogus Basin, Sun Valley, Brundage Mountain and Tamarack—and I can assure you they are worth a trip, and they don't lack things to do.
After years of turning out the lights in the spring and hanging a “closed until winter” sign on the lodge door, Bogus came roaring back several years ago with a top-flight summer program and a long list of activities. Its flagship “mountain coaster” is like a four-season bobsled run for those who don’t want to defy death, and there’s much more to do.
You can mountain bike or hike on the trails, play a round of disc golf or do various other activities including summer tubing, climbing wall, trampoline and more. They also serve food and drinks on the patio. Bogus has done a really nice job of making things affordable and family-friendly for summer visitors.
Tamarack’s tales of woe are old, stale news. This resort has been successfully operating winter and summer for years now, and it’s seeing a resurgence in many things. This summer will be pivotal as work resumes on the main lodge, which will transform the base village for summer and winter activities.
The summer activities will continue during construction, and Tamarack has some uniques ones, including Tamarack’s famous zip line tours and its marina that features rentals for SUPs, kayaks and motorboats including pontoon and wakeboard boats. There’s also whitewater rafting on the nearby North Fork of the Payette River, as well as lift-served mountain biking on a network of purpose-built trails, including some cool experts-only terrain.
When people think of summers in McCall, three things often come to mind: Payette Lake, Ponderosa State Park and Brundage Mountain. All three are summer destinations, and even without Brundage’s famous powder, it’s still a blast and worth a trip. Take a scenic chairlift ride and see the amazing 360-degree views that show you McCall’s mountainous backcountry, Payette Lake, Long Valley, New Meadows and Seven Devils mountains.
Brundage has been operating its lifts for hikers and mountain bikers for more than 20 years and has a growing network of trails, as well as a rental fleet of bikes and a summer pro shop. Brundage recently added more than 6 miles of XC bike trails, including a stunning scenic ride in the Lakeview Bowl area, so those who prefer to pedal uphill can do so while taking in one of the best views around. You can also enjoy the disc golf course; a free Friday concert series in the grassy amphitheater; and dining at Smoky’s Bar and Grill, which features a full bar if you want to relax on the patio with a beer, wine or cocktail. Summer season opens Saturday, June 15, then regular summer operations run Wednesdays through Sundays starting June 26.