To The Mountains! Summer At Elevation Means Nonstop Recreation, Minimal Humidity, and Boundless Alpine Charm

Hiking? Cycling? Kayaking? The beach is fun, sure. But, to a certain breed of outdoor enthusiast, nothing beats the temperate climes and largesse of recreation inherent in a mountain getaway. These seven high-altitude towns stand out for their alpine adventures and sophisticated lodging.

Aspen, Colorado

Here, culture is taken as seriously as outdoor pursuits. In a day, it is par for the course to enjoy a hike through wildflower-laced meadows, pop into a lecture by an artist of Venice Biennale fame and attend a late afternoon concerto, before dining at the Aspen outpost of Japanese hot spot Nakazawa.  The town is jubilant with the return of Aspen Music Festival , Jazz Aspen Snowmass JAS, and Theatre Aspen. Also on tap: new exhibits at Aspen Art Museum, (specifically Precious Okoyomon, who will transform the rooftop into a garden installation where invasive and indigenous plants cross-pollinate to music), workshops (sculpture, printmaking, photography, fine art), and lectures at the iconic Anderson Art Ranch and the opening of new galleries like Almine Ruiz-Picasso’s Almine Rech, and  White Cube
Stay: Rent a tucked-in-the-trees house or book The Little Nell which is known for its glamorous restaurants and adventures like Ride and Dine, a 15-mile trek to a riverfront ranch in Old Snowmass for a stylish alfresco meal.

The Catskills, New York

The pastoral peaks and valleys of upstate New York are prime for thigh-burning workouts while the towns serve up cool kid charm. Picturesque hikes: the Ashokan Rail Trail which runs along the Ashokan Reservoir,  Overlook Mountain which follows a 19th-century carriage road to Echo Lake, the switchback-filled Tanbark Loop and 47,500 Slide Mountain Wilderness, home to the Catskills’ tallest peak (4,180 feet).In the evenings, hear music at legendary The Bearsville Theater in Woodstock (where Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters have performed) and Maverick Concerts,  the oldest, summer chamber music festival in the U.S.
Stay: Hutton BrickyardsThirty-one cabins with pine interiors and all-glass river-facing walls dot the verdant, rolling hills of Kingston once part of the thriving bricklaying industry. Guests enjoy feels-like-camp activities such as archery, croquet, and kayaking along with easy access to the town’s art galleries and restaurants

Whitefish, Montana

Twenty minutes from Glacier National Park, Whitefish is heaven for sustainability-minded naturalists who appreciate the town’s credo “Be A Friend Of The Fish” which encourages public transportation, inclusive conversation, avoiding single-use plastics. The Whitefish Trail is a new forty-three-mile natural surface trail for hikers, runners, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. Western Montana’s pristine lakes -Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake, Lake McDonald, Seeley Lake – thrill boaters as they maneuver through reflections of surrounding snow-capped mountains. Rafting is also popular in the Flathead River where trips can be combined with horseback riding and fishing.STAY: Snowbear Treehouses and Chalets  A cluster of mid-mountain treehouses and seven brand new cozy/cool chalets (each sleep between 6-10 guests) featuring pelt-topped seating, stainless steel kitchens, and a private deck with a hot tub. 

Park City, Utah 

Once the snow melts, America’s largest ski resort turns into a hiker’s paradise with 400 miles of trails winding through the Wasatch Mountains. Other pursuits include cycling (Park City has been designated a Gold-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association), horseback riding up mountain slopes, and fly fishing in the Provo River. Home of Sundance, the lively town bustles with outdoor dining and various events such as  The Deer Valley Music Festival

 Stay:  Twenty minutes north in Wanship, the swanky Lodge at Blue Sky is tucked into 3,500 acres of wilderness with its own18 stand sporting clay course and equestrian center. The away-from-it-all location allows for customized programming like heli-hiking, horse riding on private trails,  fly fishing in private waters

Jackson Hole, WY

Old-timey Jackson, with its rodeos and line dancing at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, channels western spunk. But the real magic unfolds in the craggy mountains. There are 3,000-plus acres for hiking in addition to the treks inside neighboring Grand Teton National Park. For bikers, there are new lift-accessed downhill and cross country trails offering 1000 vertical feet,  jump features, and scenic ridgelines blooming with wildflowers. For easier cruising, you can road bike along the 65-mile paved system connecting Jackson to Grand Teton National Park. There is also Via Ferrata style rock climbing, tandem paragliding, and, for anglers,  Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School. To rest your thighs, spend a day wake surfing at Jackson Lake which sits at the base of the Tetons (6,750 feet elevation).
Stay: Caldera HouseSituated in Teton Village next to the tram, the eight sumptuous suites boast custom oak millwork, B&B Italia Talamo beds, Boffi kitchens, Axel Vervoordt furniture, and Japanese style soaking tubs

 Crested Butte, Colorado

This alpine playground is celebrated for its old-school, supremely laid-back attitude. The hiking is glorious. There are 1,200 miles of trail that lead through aspen forests to spectacular rock formations and alpine lakes More often than not, wildlife (elk, bald eagles, bear, bighorn sheep)  will make a cameo. But biking is where Crested Butte shines. It is the birthplace of downhill mountain biking (that distinction is shared with Marin, California) and boasts more than 750 miles of singletrack trails. For novices, there is a lift-served bike park with a network of 30 trails. Kayaking and rafting through the canyons in class II–IV rapids are also popular. Stay: Scarp Ridge LodgeIt may look Wild West on the outside, but inside, this former miner’s saloon is wildly contemporary, it’s six suites a melange of reclaimed wooden beams, brass riveted leather seating, taxidermy, and crisp bedding. The property, which also has an indoor saltwater pool and oxygen-enriched air system, is owned by Eleven Experiences adventure travel company that puts a luxe spin on extreme sports.

Telluride, Co 

The rugged topography of Telluride, a box canyon within the San Juan Mountains, translates into an abundance of 13,000-14,000 peaks and some of the most varied scenery in Colorado.  Case in point: A 1.8 trek above town leads to Bridal Veil Falls featuring the tallest free-falling falls in Colorado.  Continue another two thousand feet in elevation through fields of wildflowers and find yourself above the tree line at a turquoise lake aptly named Blue Lake. The Jud Wiebe Memorial Trail gains 1,200 feet in a little over a mile moving through lush fir and pine forest, aspen groves, and waterfalls. Nearby, you can SUP or kayak at Alta Lakes, a cluster of alpine lakes that sit in a basin between the 13,470-foot Silver Mountain and Bald Mountain at 11,868 feet. In the colorful Victorian town, a constant stream of live music and art happenings keep Main Street abuzz throughout the summer months. Stay: Madeline Hotel & Residences This just revamped property is designed to reflect the grand mountain views: wood-grained walls, chiseled marble tabletops, and leather detailing crafted by a local outfit,  Crossbow Leather.

This article originally appeared in Architectural Digest