Aspen Mountain is jumping on the summer bandwagon. Or into the mountain coaster car, as the case were.
The resort plans to invest $10 million to freshen up its summer activities, starting with downhill mountain biking trails.
Aspen and Snowmass also will entertain summer visitors with zip lines, canopy tours, a mountain coaster, new hiking trails and a challenge course.
“We’re expanding our lift-service mountain biking by extending trails, building new trails and making sure we hit all ability levels and all the things our guests are looking for,” said Aspen spokesman Jeff Hanle.
Beginning as soon as the snow melts, Aspen has enlisted British Columbia-based Gravity Logic to design 7 miles of new downhill biking trails, with options for beginner, intermediate and advanced bikers to ride down various wood features and jumps.
The trails will be under the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp Chairlift, bringing Snowmass’s existing downhill trail system to about nine miles. The resort has 50 miles of cross-country mountain bike trails, which also can be accessed from the Elk Camp chairlift.
The trails will be completed by the end of the summer or early fall, Hanle said. Next on the docket, depending on forest service approvals, Aspen will begin making its mountain coaster, canopy tours, challenge course and zip line this summer. It plans to have those additions finished by summer 2018, Hanle said.
“We’re not putting an amusement park on the mountain,” he said. “We’re very conscious of design and the way this fits with the environment on the mountain. We want to do it right.”
The canopy tours will have eight stations where guides take visitors through a zip line tour that’s less about speed and more about teaching visitors about the surrounding flora and fauna in the White River National Forest.
“A lot of our canopy tour platforms are actually built on the trees versus a steel platform,” Hanle said. Visitors can either choose to end the canopy tour, or continue on the speedy zipline tour next.
In addition to new hiking trails and a challenge course, Snowmass will also get a mountain coaster by next summer. Similar to a roller coaster, a mountain coaster is set on rails close to the ground, while gravity propels riders down the mountain in individual carts.
For slower-paced activities, the top of Aspen Mountain also is getting new additions, including a slide, log staircase and renovated obstacle course for this summer. Hanle said the resort is adding more landscaping and multipurpose decks for viewing.
“It’s not as adrenaline-oriented as what we’re doing at Snowmass,” he said.
Aspen is not the only mountain boosting its summer fun. Resorts Vail and Winter Park also have invested in summer infrastructure.
Last June, Vail Resorts invested $25 million in its Epic Discovery program for ziplines, hiking and biking trails, challenge courses and mountain coasters to its resorts, The Denver Post reported.
Copper Mountain is putting in a multimillion-dollar mountain coaster and mountain bike trail system, according to the Summit Daily.