Anyone looking to get their ski slope fix in the summer can hightail it to one of Europes famous glacier parks. These parks are open all year round so that serious powder heads can get a taste of adrenaline, even in the midst of the hottest summer months.
Most are found at altitudes above 8,000 feet, meaning the air is colder than usual and reaching the parks can be quite a trip unto itself. As a reward for your efforts, you get some early morning skiing from 7 a.m. to around 2 p.m. when the snow starts to get soft. Many pros use glacier parks as a way to brush up during the off season. Snowboarders especially take advantage of the soft, slow drifts for practicing technical tricks and deciphering lines over pipes, kickers and boxes.
You can while away the rest of the afternoon by exploring the other activities these mountainous paradises offer, including mountain biking, hiking, bear watching, golf, caving and plenty of other worthwhile activities. In short, glacier parks offer some of the best opportunities for summer fun in one of the least expected ways possible. Visit any one of the following European glacial paradises to open your eyes to a whole new realm of summer adventuring:
Soaring 11,800 feet above sea level, the Allalin glacier must be reached by cable car and funicular train. Once there, skiers can enjoy nearly 12.5 miles of pistes. Boarders get their own playground with a freestyle park featuring two lines of kickers, a hip jump, boxes, rails and a superpipe. Anyone who needs to take a break can enjoy the aptly-named Chill Out Zone near the base of the mountain featuring comfy couches and music where they can soak up pointers by watching the pros.
At the top is an ice grotto and a revolving restaurant to create a truly unique snowy summertime experience.
La Grande Motte is a famous resort town in southern France that draws 2 million tourists per year. By the shores, travelers can enjoy beach volleyball, golf, swimming and tennis, but a funicular train can bring you to a completely different world just a few miles away. High up on the Tignes glacier is a ski park with 12 miles of slopes and a terrain park. A variety of ramps lets skiers, boarders, bicyclists and even belly riders slide down and vault high up into the air before plunging into Tignes Lakes icy waters.
The only year-round ski park in Austria is quite a doozy. With 37 miles of varied pistes as well as a 390 ft superpipe, the park has plenty of space for summer skiers itching to stretch their snow legs. Also somewhat unique to the park is the Nature Ice Palace that allows visitors to explore crystal-filled ice chambers or prehistoric caves brimming with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Kids can also get their fill of fun in the tubing and bobsled run.
Glacier parks like these are magical, especially considering you can be surfing or sunbathing the exact same day you hit the powder. Visit one on your European vacation for an unforgettable experience.
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