All Ikon Pass holders have one thing in common—an undeniable appreciation for nature’s thrill and beauty. So, when you’re en route to scenic gondola rides at your favorite Ikon Pass destinations this summer and fall, pair your trip with the endless trails, towering peaks, and inspiring vistas of neighboring national parks. These unique experiences are all part of the adventure, and adventure runs deep. Here’s how to find it.
Yosemite National Park: Mammoth Mountain, Palisades Tahoe formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Big Bear Resort
The best of California’s adventure-ready destinations are all within driving distance to one of the most sought after and renowned American landscapes, Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite – From Mammoth Mountain
At only an hour from Mammoth Mountain, Yosemite’s famed granite cliffs, giant sequoia forests, and incredible waterfalls set the stage for an unforgettable National Parks experience. Enter from the eastern side of Tioga Pass and follow the road towards Lembert Dome, where sport climbing and light hiking are readily available. In a short series of stops found further west along Tioga road, explorers will discover Yosemite’s largest body of water, Tenaya Lake, and then the magnificence of Half Dome and Clouds Rest, as seen from Olmsted Point.
Yosemite – From Big Bear or Palisades Tahoe
For those planning a trip to Palisades Tahoe or Big Bear, the three to six-ish hours in the car to Yosemite is a longer haul, sure, but it’s worth every minute of adventure while strolling, hiking, or slowly cruising through the pristine landscapes of this glorious National Park. And coming from these destinations allows you to explore any of the park entrances you find most enticing.
Back at The Destinations: Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe, Big Bear
Yosemite’s iconic landscapes in the bag, make sure to carve out enough time to enjoy everything that Mammoth Mountain, Palisades Tahoe, and Big Bear bring to the summer scene. Pair some heart-pumping mountain biking with views of the jagged Minarets, as seen from the top Mammoth Mountain’s gondola. At Palisades Tahoe, take the New Aerial Tram to High Camp for hiking, disc golf, and 360 views of Lake Tahoe’s high alpine Beauty. On the southern end at Big Bear, pack in a ton of fun at the bike park before taking in one of Bear’s picturesque movies in the meadow.
Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park: Big Sky Resort and Jackson Hole
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that two of America’s most beloved ski, ride, and adventure destinations just happen to share landscapes with two of the most inspiring stretches of protected land within the continental United States,Yellowstone National Parkand Grand Teton National Park.
Yellowstone National Park – From Big Sky
Nearest to Big Sky lies the world’s first-ever National Park, the granddaddy of them all: Yellowstone. At just an hour’s drive away, the Western entrance is an open invitation to the natural wonders that make Yellowstone a must-hit for any warm weather wandering near Big Sky. A roughly 3-hour drive will parade you past Old Faithful and then Yellowstone Lake before showing you glimpses of bears, grey wolves, and bison in Hayden Valley. Finally, before returning to the Western entrance take in the powerful splendor of the Lower Falls.
Yellowstone National Park – From Jackson Hole
Alternately, from the Southern entrance of Yellowstone – the entrance most easily reached from Jackson Hole – head north past Lewis lake and find your way to West Thumb Geyser Basin. Walk the boardwalk for an introduction to geothermal pools and steaming cones. Further north still is Old Faithful. Given the right amount of time, you won’t want to miss the show this landmark puts on as it erupts once every 90 minutes.
Grand Teton National Park – From Big Sky and/or Jackson Hole
Whether you’re making the summer pilgrimage to Big Sky from the south (we see you, Colorado, and *wink* it’s worth the pilgrimage) – or if you’re making the short single mile trek to the Park from Jackson Hole, get your crew ready for a feast for the eyes. To start, the Teton Park Road is a great way to navigate through the landfall of natural beauty saturating this park. Take the road to either Jenny Lake or Taggart Lake Trailhead, both of which offer easy to moderate hikes and abundant views. While bouncing between the two, keep an eye out for wildlife as the Tetons are home to the National Elk Refuge and there’s an excellent chance to see one of the planet’s largest herds of majestic elk roaming through these wilds.
Back at The Destinations: Big Sky Resort and Jackson Hole
No matter what direction you arrive from, there is a truly magnificent landscape waiting to be traveled through and explored. But make sure to save plenty of time for Big Sky and Jackson Hole. Whether it’s golfing the award-winning, scenic 18-hole, par 72 golf course at Big Sky Resort or riding the 40+ miles of mountain bike trails, or if it’s a trip up the Lone Peak Expedition tram leading to Montana’s highest scenic overlook at 11,166 ft., adventure abounds around every corner in Big Sky.
And if you’re headed back to Jackson, it’s all about the joy of summertime activities. Set aside some time to hit the links, grab some prime cuts from Sweet Cheeks Meats and get the grill working, or set up a whitewater rafting adventure in the Snake River Canyon.
Rocky Mountain National Park: Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs
The bountiful state of Colorado is well equipped with both national parks and bucket list destinations on the Ikon Pass. Given the adventure-packed nature of Centennial State, several of these Ikon Pass locations are a short drive from Colorado’s iconic Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park – From Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs
For the majority of Colorado Ikon Pass destinations, the closest park entrance will be the southern terminus of Trail Ridge Road, located just outside of Grand Lake. At 12,095 feet and crossing the continental divide from west to east, Trail Ridge Road gives travelers sweeping scenes of Longs Peak, Pagoda Peak, and many other scenic views. On the road’s eastern end lies Estes Park, which serves as a perfect spot for lunching and souvenir shopping. While in town, take a stop by the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the Steven King / Stanley Kubrick 1980 seminal classic, The Shining. Reversing course, check in for one of the many hikes the Park is known for. From the .8-mile Bear Lake Loop to the strenuous 12+ mile hike up Longs Peak, there’s a trail for all adventure seekers.
Back at The Destinations: Copper Mountain, Winter Park Resort, Steamboat
Hikes hiked and haunts vanquished, there is an entire assortment of fun-filled adventure to be had at Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, and Steamboat. At Copper, think obstacle courses like the Woodward WreckTangle, the vertical challenges of a climbing wall, golf, and go-kart races. Over at Winter Park Resort, get stoked up to tear down the gravity-laden downhill lines of Trestle Bike Park, one of the premier bike parks in the US. Alternately, crush G’s without the risk of meeting a patch of dirt, face-to-face, by stepping on to Colorado’s longest alpine slide, measuring over 3,000 ft. And for those seeking a slower pace, check out the informative, guided hiking tours through some of Colorado’s most impressive high country. If Steamboat is your destination of choice, make sure to check out the adventure-packed base area, reserve a horseback ride, and find a spot on the lawn for Movies on the Mountain, presented by Coca-Cola, showing a new feature every Saturday night throughout the summer.
Acadia National Park: Sunday River and Sugarloaf
An east coast summer adventure to Maine’s Sunday River and/or Sugarloaf isn’t quite complete without the three-hour trip to the North Atlantic coast’s crown jewel: Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park
Adventure doesn’t discriminate between night and day, so arrive early and make your way to the top of Cadillac Mountain – accessible by both car and hike – in the dark. At the top, open that thermos and turn your gaze eastward to revel in the earliest sunrise in the US. Next, take a driving tour of Acadia’s famous stone bridges and carriage paths, and soak up the fact that this park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi.
Back at The Destinations: Sunday River and Sugarloaf
Back at Sunday River, there’s a bevy of ways to play. Put some rubber down on the mountain bike trails, challenge the crew to disc golf, or go flying through the trees on the side-by-side 750-foot Twin Zipline. If you’re touring through Sugarloaf, bring your golf game or hit the bike trails, and make sure to keep an eye out for their “On The Lawn” 2019 Summer Concert Series.
A list of Ikon Pass Destinations Near National Parks
Given the breadth of the Ikon Pass and its destinations worldwide, the above list is just a small sampling of renowned nature preserves that Pass Holders can visit and explore. As fuel to go further, jumpstart your next adventure with this list of amazing national parks in both the United States and Canada.
- Mammoth Mountain, Palisades Tahoe, and Big Bear Resort are all within driving distance to California’s renowned Yosemite National Park.
- Both Big Sky Resort and Jackson Hole boarder the landscapes of Yellowstone National park and Grand Teton National Park
- When visiting Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Steamboat, make sure a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is on the list.
- In the east at Sunday River and Sugarloaf, plan a day to see a sunrise or a sunset Acadia National Park
- Crystal Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington are both close to Mount Rainier National Parkand a few hours’ drive from the otherworldly Pacific Northwest jewel, Olympic National Park.
- Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is two hours south of Colorado’s stunning Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
- SkiBig3 is actually located inside Canada’s very first protected piece of land, Banff National Park.
- SkiBig 3 and Revelstoke Mountain Resort are both within three hours of five incredible national parks in British Columbia, Canada: Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park, and Yoho National Park—some are even within minutes.
- Cypress Mountain in Canada’s British Columbia is less than three hours from North Cascades National Park in Washington.