New era of year-round resort playgrounds? | AspenTimes.com

New era of year-round resort playgrounds?

Jason Blevins
The Denver Post
Visitors ride the zip lines at Epic Discovery part of Vail's summer development project, June 21. Vail Mountain is the first ski resort in the country to develop summer amenities under federal legislation designed to expand year-round activity at ski resorts on federal land.
Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post | THE DENVER POST

For decades, summer has been the offseason for ski resorts — busy with maintenance and on-mountain upgrades, but not nearly as bustling as in winter, when skiers flock and staffs swell.

That changes this week, when Vail Resorts, the continent’s largest resort operator, opens its new Epic Discovery summer projects at flagship Vail Mountain and at Heavenly, near Lake Tahoe in California.

After pushing for federal legislation allowing more year-round recreation at ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land, Vail on Tuesday officially unveils the new face of the ski resort industry. And that face is no longer goggle-tanned.

Vail’s $25 million summer investment is designed to turn its ski areas into 12-month playgrounds, with mountain coasters, ziplines, aerial adventure courses and more hiking and biking trails. All of it stems from the 2011 Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, which allows the Forest Service greater leeway when approving projects at resorts that initially were designed for downhill skiing.

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