The Kimball Arts Festival in Park City, Utah, photographed by Carla Boecklin.
Jackson Hole, Aspen, and Park City are widely regarded as the perfect playgrounds for those seeking a winter getaway. But the summer season is as good a time as any to pay a visit to these dynamic mountain towns. Recently, we sat down with The Scout Guide Aspen co-editors Erin Jones and Amy Groom, The Scout Guide Jackson Hole editor Jill King, and editor of the forthcoming The Scout Guide Park City Suzanne Dildy to discuss the top reasons to book a summer getaway out west. From extreme beauty and stellar shopping to outdoor activities galore, our insiders share why you should consider ditching the beach in favor of some clean mountain air.
Why to Summer in Aspen, Colorado
This once-sleepy Colorado town was put on the map as a ski getaway. But here, The Scout Guide Aspen co-editors Jones and Groom share why Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley should be a top summer destination.
Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado. Courtesy Aspen Chamber, Photographer C2 Photography.
The most gorgeous hiking, fishing, and horseback riding around. “One must-do is to visit the Maroon Bells, the most photographed peaks in North America,” Jones shares. And for good reason: there are stunning views and great hiking trails. As if that weren’t enticing enough, Groom adds, “In Aspen, you can hike through wildflowers, fish in Gold Medal waters, horseback ride through the aspens, and bike on and around our mountains.
Become acquainted with all things crafted. “Craft spirits, craft beers, and handcrafted food make this a culinary destination, no matter your palate,” Jones says. For the ultimate foodie experience, visit in mid-June, when the Food & Wine Classic makes Aspen a top destination for culinary talent.
Experience arts and culture all summer long. Kicking off with the Food & Wine Classic, the area continues to celebrate throughout the season with the Aspen Ideas Festival (mid-June), the annual Fourth of July parade, Aspen Arts Festival (late-July), and JAS Labor Day music. The town comes alive surrounding these happenings, Jones says, drawing big thinkers and cultural icons alike.
Enjoy a perfect summer stroll. The Aspen climate could not be more ideal for those who like to be out and about all day long. “With daytime highs in the 80s and evenings in the 60s, Aspen is neither too hot or too cold,” Groom says. Whether you’re taking in the Saturday Market or visitings the dozens of boutiques in town and in the valley, you’ll enjoy every comfortable second of your visit.
Why to Summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The snow falls deep in Jackson Hole, and while this makes for a skier’s paradise in the winter, come the thaw, naturalists delight in the warm weather splendor. Here’s why The Scout Guide Jackson Hole editor Jill King recommends visiting during the summer months.
Tetons and wildflowers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, photographed by Gray Crane Studios.
Take in an abundance of wildflowers. “After the winter depths of snow, the wildflowers are amazing,” King says. “I think they’re best viewed from my number-one favorite 12+ mile hike: Sleeping Indian in the Gros Ventre Wilderness, which can take you up over 5,800 vertical feet.” King notes that you can only view the wildflowers from May through September because of these are the only 60 continuous frost-free days per year—all the more reason to book a plane ticket now. On display will be Indian paintbrush, larkspur, columbine, rare calypso orchid, fireweed, and over 1,000 varieties only seen in high altitude.
Two words: wildlife babies. “The truncated summers here mean baby animals only have a short window to grow and put on fat reserves to survive the winter,” King says. In May and June, you have an opportunity to view elk and deer calving, grizzly and black bear cubs, moose and bison babies, as well as birds such as eagles, raven, great gray owls, and cranes. The best viewing, according to King, is near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park.
It’s the best place for a wild ride. Due to the abundance of snow runoff, the lakes and rivers are full and ready for wild and scenic rafting, fly fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. “My favorite spot is Goodwin Lake, found only after a six-mile hike,” King says. “It’s worth the effort, as fishing will bring cutthroat trout, or you can enjoy a chilly but crystal-clear dip in the lake.”
Instagram-worthy sunrise and sunset moments. With a visit to Grand Teton Park, you will be rewarded with views of glaciers, mountains, rivers, and lakes as your backdrop. One of King’s favorite spots is just inside the park at Oxbow Bend. This is one of the most photographed areas, offering views of the Tetons and a plethora of critters against the backdrop of a stunning park sunrise or sunset.
Why to Summer in Park City, Utah
From extreme beauty and outdoor activities galore to the best in live music, Park City should top your list of must-visit summer locations, says The Scout Guide Park City editor Suzanne Dildy. Here’s why.
Park City, Utah, photographed by Carla Boecklin.
Jaw-dropping beauty abounds. “Park City is home to glorious views of the Wasatch Range Mountains everywhere you turn,” Dildy says. “The vibrant colors of the flowers, quaking aspens, and pine trees will take your breath away.” Plus, the weather is warm and sunny in the daytime, but cool enough at night to wear a sweater when the sun goes down, so you can enjoy all of nature’s splendor in comfort.
Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice. If you enjoy getting your heart rate up while on vacation, Park City is the ideal destination. Dildy says that you can choose from biking, fly fishing, camping, and many other summer activities while visiting the area. And if thrills are what you’re after, there are even zip lines and mountain coasters.
Listen to the music. “My absolute favorite thing about summer in Park City is that you can hear live music outdoors almost every night,” Dildy says. Her favorites places to enjoy the outdoor entertainment are at Deer Valley, where you can order a gourmet picnic, sip wine with friends, and enjoy world-class music while taking in the breathtaking mountain landscape around you.
Enjoy outdoor markets. A local favorite, The Park City Farmers Market, held every Wednesday from 12 to 5 p.m., is the perfect spot to load up on amazing local products ranging from produce and gourmet delicacies to handmade Native American jewelry. In addition, “The Park City Silly Market is a must on Sundays,” Dildy says. “Local vendors sell hand-made crafts, and you can enjoy lunch or a beverage from gourmet food trucks while listening to live local music.”