This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
At Eagles’ Nest in Colorado, atop a ridge above the town of Vail, visitors swooped down the mountain last summer on a brand-new alpine coaster, whose track loops like a loose ball of yarn through the conifer forests. And there were other attractions for the fun-seekers: a bungee trampoline, disc golf, climbing wall, ropes courses, and zipline tours.
These new attractions opened last summer at Eagle County’s Vail Mountain Resort thanks to a law passed by Congress five years ago, which expressly allows summer activities on the 122 U.S. ski areas that operate at least partly on federal lands.
The activity center at Vail, along with a similar development at Heavenly, a Lake Tahoe resort, represents the first application of this new authority. Colorado’s Copper Mountain and Breckenridge recently got Forest Service approval to add summer attractions, and dozens of other ski companies across the West are also readying their plans.