Find a high-altitude escape for every season at these scenic adventurelands
Move over, Vermont. In fall, the red maples, yellow aspens, and green pines light up the hills in this college town, 1 1/2
hours north of Salt Lake. For epic autumn hues, try the Wind Cave hike (2 miles each way) on the northern end of Logan Canyon
just outside town, with its acres of blood orange big-tooth maples. Before you go, get color updates from the Forest Service
Stay: The six-room Riter Mansion bed-and-breakfast serves apple pancakes with views of maples. From $99; theritermansion.com
Idaho’s ski paradise, 2 1/2 hours east of Boise, is Bald Mountain (aka Baldy), known for its steep pitch and bone-dry powder.
For a hangout alternative to the town of Sun Valley, head to nearby Ketchum for its stylish indie shops, saloons, and restaurants
rivaling what you’d find in the big city.
Stay: Wake up in one of the three ski-in yurts at Galena Lodge, with your order of freshly baked breakfast muffins delivered to your front flap. From $125; galenalodge.com
Most famous for its namesake observatory, this mountain, 1 1/2 hours northeast of downtown San Diego, is a lush springtime
playground, with 10+ miles of hiking trails through meadows, creeks, and forests.
Stay: In the Gold Rush town of Julian, the Craftsman-style Orchard Hill Country Inn has a hammock and cookies waiting. From $195; orchardhill.com
The white-knuckle drive to Jerome, 50 minutes northeast of Prescott, won’t quickly be forgotten. It ascends to above 7,000
feet, then descends to the old mining town, reenergized with galleries, historic inns, and wine-tasting rooms. At 15° to 20°
cooler than Phoenix, Jerome’s a fine place to beat the heat.
Stay: Main Street’s 1898 Connor Hotel has a dozen rooms, some with gas-fired woodstoves and windows framing red-rock mountains. From $95; connorhotel.com
There are more than 350 miles of hiking trails in Rocky Mountain park, but one of the prettiest is to Mills Lake, framed by
pine trees and snowcapped peaks. It’s a 2- to 3-hour hike from Estes Park on a well-marked trail. You'll make several river
crossings over wooden bridges. Stop partway for the roar and spray of Alberta Falls. Afterwards, return to the historic town
for a ghostly tour and good eats.
More: Explore Estes Park
The hikes are strenuous, but the rewards sweet in Red River, the tiny ski burg 36 miles from Taos in the heart of New Mexico’s
Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Brave your way up Wheeler Peak (fs.usda.gov/carson), the state’s highest mountain, at 13,161 feet, in a rigorous 16-mile round-trip excursion. (Hike starts about 8 miles southeast
of downtown at the Horseshoe Lake/East Fork Trail.) Or stay in town and let the Platinum Chairlift whisk you up Red River
Ski Area ($15; redriverskiarea.com) past 10,000 feet, then follow easy marked trails or just fan out along the mountainside.
Stay: Cozy up in the forested riverside cabins at Copper King Lodge, where a river-facing hot tub and fishing holes are just steps from your door. From $79; 3-night min.; copperkinglodge.com
You hardly even need to pedal on most of the beginner trails at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Bike Park ($35/day; jacksonhole.com)—you just glide. Access the park’s six trails via the Teewinot Lift, then speed down 4-foot-wide, luge-track-smooth paths.
Don’t miss the Lucky Charm trail, where you’ll pedal over a 377-foot-long wooden bike bridge. You'll find plenty to be thrilled
about off the mountain, too. For a small town, Jackson packs big-city punch when it comes to lodging and dining—at places
like the Kitchen, where Wagyu flank steak is topped with pecan butter and served with foie gras Yukon Gold potatoes ($$$; 155 N. Glenwood St.; 307/734-1633).
Stay: Tour the collection of cowboy paintings before turning in at down- town’s Wort Hotel. Not sleepy? The hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar has killer jalapeño margaritas, live bluegrass, and more than 2,000 coins inlaid in its bar top. From $389; worthotel.com
Situated in Colorado’s "Banana Belt" and surrounded by three mountain ranges, Salida gets only a fraction of the snow that
blankets the surrounding high country―and milder temperatures too. But if you're really looking to get warm, the 100° pools
at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort (pool use $15; 20 miles from Salida at 15870 County Rd. 162, Nathrop; 888/395-7799) are just the place to take the edge off the winter chill. Take in views of snow-shrouded 14ers while you warm up in the
two manmade thermal pools overlooking Chalk Creek, and over a dozen natural creekside pools winding through the valley below. If you're still itching to work up a sweat, head to nearby Monarch Mountain ski area, 20 miles west of town, with 63 ski trails (22720 W. U.S. 50; skimonarch.com).
More: Warm Salida weekend
At the West’s biggest ski resort, you can live it up or find some Olympic-sized deals. Want to hit the slopes? Fresh Tracks
(whistlerblackcomb.com), the get-on-the-mountain-first breakfast ticket program, is just $18 with a $95 lift ticket—a heckuva lot cheaper than a
helicopter ride. For that, you get a hearty breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge and first crack at the slopes. Not an alpine
skier? Tour 34 miles of cross-country trails at Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley ($22; 5 Callaghan Valley Rd.; whistlerolympicpark.com), or sign up for a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Blackcomb Sleighrides ($54; blackcombsleighrides.com).
Stay: For ski-in/ski-out convenience without Whistler Village prices, find some buddies and split a comfy two-bedroom condo at Legends Whistler, at the base of the Creekside gondola. It’s only $395 a night and offers quick mountain access, plus a full kitchen. 2-night weekend min.; lodgingovations.com
Hiking is plentiful here, but two wheels are the true star: At this birthplace of mountain biking, you’ll find more bikes
than people. Grab one from the Alpineer for a spin on the Lower Loop, a 10-mile network of single- and double-track trails
and dirt roads. Or jump on the Upper Loop, a track east of town that takes you along Mt. Crested Butte ($20/day; alpineer.com). Leave the wheels behind as you whiz through a canopy of dazzling aspens on the Crested Butte Zipline Tour, a two-hour adventure
that spans five connected lines and three suspended bridges (from $59; 970/349-2211).
Stay: Even inns here get in on the bike love, like the Ruby of Crested Butte, a luxe but low-key B&B with 1,000-thread- count sheets, Frette robes, and loaner cruis- ers in a rack out front. From $229; 2-night min.; therubyofcrestedbutte.com
The 1,600-square mile park―dubbed by explorer George Bird Grinnell as “The Crown of the Continent”―Glacier National Park can
let its numbers speak for themselves. The park features 185 named mountains, 762 lakes, 25 glaciers, 68 species of mammals―including
black bears and grizzly bears―277 species of birds, and 700 miles of hiking trails. However, the numbers, staggering though
they may be, don't do the magical scenery justice. Glacier is a must on any Western traveler's bucket list.
More: Glacier National Park guide
This college town with mountain spirit and cowboy characteristics makes for a fantastic fall getaway, as scorching summer
temps have cooled at 7,165 feet, and there’s a grab bag of outdoor adventures. Hike the granite hoodoos in Medicine Bow National
Forest (pictured), and keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife: elk, moose, and rock climbers.
More: Explore Laramie
Fresh powder and no lift lines? It’s just another day at Big Sky. It may not share the glory of the glitzy resort towns in
Colorado and Utah, but with more snow and open space, this undersung skiing nirvana can rest on its own laurels. Between the
town's two ski resorts--Big Sky and Moonlight Basin--there are three mountains used by an average of only 2,500 skiers per
day ... it works out to 2 acres per skier. Combine uncrowdedness and lots of fluffy powder with a laid-back cowboy culture,
and you've got the perfect winter weekend.
More: Big Sky winter escape
Mix the start-up energy of Silicon Valley with the craftiness of Portland and gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery, and you’ve
got Boulder: the most-inspired town in the West. These days, as you cruise along Pearl Street east of the Mall on a cherry
red ride from B-cycle, Boulder’s nonprofit bike-sharing system, every other storefront begs you to slam on the brakes: an
artisanal cheese shop, coffee roaster, craft-driven bar, DIY workshop selling handmade everything, and on and on, until every
new stop leads to the question: Is this the next Portlandia? There’s something for every type of dreamer here, whether you’re an entrepreneur or hobbyist, local or tourist. Boulder
could be the place that feeds your desire to try something new, as long as you listen to that creative calling and pull over.
More: Tap into Boulder's creative side
Imagine a national park-level wilderness without national park-level crowds. No bus tours. No traffic. No entrance fees. Just
drop-to-your-knees gorgeous land full of hiking trails, hot springs, trout-filled streams, and some of the best lemonade you've
More: Escape to the Sawtooth Mountains
Sunshine, great dining, and golden leaves: “Flag” is Arizona's capital of autumn. In fall, the air in Flagstaff is crisp as
a Winesap, the skies are the dictionary definition of blue, and the return of 18,000 NAU students gives "Flag" a Red Bull–swigging,
outdoorsy zing. Explore the historic downtown or head to the hills for some seasonal hiking. Also, don't miss Coconino National
Forest, located north of town, for the state's most spectacular aspens set against the backdrop of dormant volcano Humphreys
More: Experience Flagstaff's fall
A reinvented logging town populated by skateboarding students, Cali refugees, and athletes-in-training (all of whom care deeply
about what they eat and where it comes from—the closer, the better), Bend is experiencing a flood of locavore dining and nouveau
food carts. But the area's crowning jewel is located just 22 miles west, rising out of the Deschutes National Forest: solitary
Mt. Bachelor. It’s a challenging ski area: 3,683 acres of exhilarating, windswept runs with a 3,365-foot vertical drop.
Stay: The boutiquey Oxford Hotel (from $179; www.oxfordhotelbend.com) puts you in the heart of downtown’s buzzy small-plates scene—and one of the stars is the hotel’s own 10 Below restaurant.
More: Find the best in Bend
Summer in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon means miles of easygoing hikes with jagged granite scenery and knee- deep wildflowers.
Let the tram zoom you from Snowbird’s village to the top of Hidden Peak (11,000 feet!), then hike into Mineral Basin before
taking a free ride down on the Peruvian Express lift. For an even easier tour, hop on the Alpine Slide (above), a high-speed
chute that winds 1,300 thrilling feet from the top of the Chickadee Chairlift back to the village. Tram $16, slide $11; snowbird.com
Stay: At the Inn at Snowbird (from $99; snowbird.com), which greatly reduces rates in summer, your condolike room—complete with kitchen and wood- burning fireplace—is just steps from the slopes. Next door, the Lodge Bistro ($$$; 801/933-2145) has comforting classics like American Kobe bavette steak with mashed potatoes and housemade steak sauce.
Take the reins Head to Howelsen Hill—just a short walk from downtown—and let the horse do all the work at Sombrero Ranch,
where guides trot you through miles of shaded, pine-studded trails overlooking the lush Yampa Valley (1-hour tour $35; 970/879-2306). It’s a water wonderland at downtown’s Old Town Hot Springs (from $15; oldtownhotsprings.org), where eight mineral pools (feeding off the naturally bubbly Heart Spring), two twisty water-tube slides, and an in-pool
climbing wall await. For a post-soak refreshment, we love the fresh peach and berry smoothies from Sweet Pea Restaurant (pictured; $; 729 Yampa St.; 970/879-1221).
Stay: Opened in 1948, the Old West–themed Hotel Bristol is complete with saloon and Native American quilts in the bedrooms. From $139; steamboathotelbristol.com
Surrounded by a 360° kingdom of Swiss Alps–style peaks, and conveniently located between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los
Angeles, Mammoth is an ideal choice for a California ski weekend. The mountain is king, but plenty of off-slope adventures
can be had, like full-moon snowshoe hikes, natural hot springs, and dog-sledding.
More: Meet Mammoth