Mountain towns embrace ice rinks as versatile year-round venues.

There’s something nostalgic about ice-skating that strikes a chord. It’s an entertaining activity for groups, even for attendees who elect to linger around the fire pits and hot chocolate bar. What you might not know is how many indoor and outdoor mountain ice rinks serve a dual purpose, making them appealing year-round venues for concerts, farmers’ markets, lawn games, receptions, and dinners or movies under the stars as the ice melts and summer appears. While indoor rinks are available for skating year-round, the only outdoor facility with ice through fair-weather months is in Sun Valley, Idaho.

UTAH

With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, there is no better time for groups to book the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns and offer instruction in basic skating, figure skating, speed skating, hockey and curling. The five-acre venue has a 400-meter speed skating oval that holds more Olympic world records than anywhere else, two international-sized ice sheets and a four-lane, 442-meter running track. The multiuse facility has an impressive rental fleet, with more than 1,200 pairs of figure and hockey skates. 

At the base of Park City Mountain Resort, lights and upbeat music will get groups in the groove for a terrific time on the outdoor Resort Center Ice Skating Rink. In addition to public skate sessions, there are activity, food and beverage options for private functions. Go traditional with ice-skating or perhaps mix in some broomball or curling. Year-round, head indoors to Park City Ice Arena featuring an Olympic-size sheet of ice.

NEW MEXICO

Central to the recently renovated Lower Plaza at Taos Ski Valley, Eis Haus adds a new winter experience to the mix. Skaters of all abilities and ages are sure to enjoy ice-skating in the afternoons and evenings, and large built-in fireplaces with seating located adjacent to the ice offer a great place for groups to watch, relax and socialize after a day on the mountain. 

NEVADA

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the cobalt blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Edgewood Tahoe is a lakefront retreat complete with an outdoor ice-skating rink, which hosted last year’s National Hockey League (NHL) outdoors series. While doing laps around the rink under strands of white lights, skaters can take in breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The rink is available for group buyouts, which include skate rentals, a culinary experience set up at the rink and customizable music mixes. 

WYOMING

In Jackson, there are three options for sliding and gliding. Enter Rink on the Town Square through the town square’s well-known antler arches and absorb the vibrant energy of downtown. Private lessons are available, and groups can book the venue. Village Rink on the Commons, at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is ideal after a day on the slopes or in meetings. Snow King Sports & Event Center at Snow King Mountain Resort offers indoor public ice-skating and the opportunity to watch the Jackson Hole Moose play hockey.

Connecting Casper’s downtown and a neighborhood known as the Old Yellowstone District, David Street Station is an outdoor community plaza and venue that hosts concerts, events, markets and more all year long. The ice rink doubles as a splash pad in the summer, and the plaza works well for off-site events and activities any time of year and is only steps away from downtown’s culinary scene. During the winter, organizations like Coldwell Banker - The Legacy Group, Orr’s Hope Foundation, and Wallick & Volk have rented the rink. 

COLORADO

Like Jackson, Vail has both an indoor ice center and outdoor rinks. The 35,000-square-feet Dobson Ice Arena is open year-round for hockey, figure skating and broomball and hosts events like Vail Invitational Skating Championships. It also is utilized for non-ice events like concerts, corporate events and more. Outside, Alderhof Ice Rink is surrounded by the charm of Lionshead Village at the base of Vail Mountain and open afternoons and evenings daily, from November through mid-April. In nearby Beaver Creek, Black Family Ice Rink offers similar base-village charm, plush seating and ice bikes and operates evenings during ski season. 

Most ice rinks charge for skating and/or renting skates, but Snowmass Base Village Ice Rink is the exception with both being totally free. Located in the heart of Snowmass Base Village and surrounded by fire pits and comfy lounge seating, it’s a traditional ice rink experience in the winter, complete with a Game of Stones curling series for teams of two, and hosts winter events ranging from ice disco parties and youth sporting ceremonies to major ski group receptions. In the summer, it transitions into a summer lawn for activities like cornhole, yoga, movies under the stars, art events and live performances. 

In nearby Aspen, the Aspen Recreation Center provides a totally different option with its indoor Lewis Ice Arena that is open year-round and has 400 seats. In addition to the NHL-size rink, there is an aquatic center, climbing tower, weight and cardio rooms, pickleball courts and outdoor pavilion and sledding hill that groups can tap into. Closer to the city core are Aspen Ice Garden that also can be reserved for dry-floor events in summer and the outdoor rink at Silver Circle in the heart of downtown. 

IDAHO

Idaho IceWorld is an indoor ice-skating and entertainment center in Boise offering skating, figure skating and hockey instruction and public skating sessions. The spacious facility, home to the Idaho Steelheads minor league hockey team, has two ice-skating rinks, arcade games and a rinkside food court.

At Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink, catch a glimpse of Olympic and world-class skaters (and normal people like you and me) take a few spins around the rink, enroll in lessons and watch one of  the celebrated Sun Valley on Ice shows. The show season typically kicks off in early July and occurs most Saturdays through Labor Day weekend, and each week features headliners joining a Sun Valley cast. It’s one of the few year-round, outdoor ice rinks in the country, and there is a full-size indoor rink that is the summer home of the Sun Valley Figure Skating School and hosts open hockey as well. 

CALIFORNIA

Located adjacent to Yosemite National Park’s south gate, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite has a covered ice rink that opens for winter in late November. Take to the ice and roast s’mores at the nearby fire pit for an interactive activity or reception. In warmer months, the rink becomes a 3,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion that serves as a meetings venue and function space for private corporate events, team-building exercises, group activities and more.

Heavenly Village Outdoor Ice Skating Rink is conveniently located in the middle of Heavenly Village and surrounded by local shops and restaurants. Keep warm by the fire pits and take advantage of the come-and-go wristband system. Once a wristband to skate has been paid for, your team can enjoy a meeting break on the ice and come back after dinner, as the rink is open daily from 10 a.m. – 8p.m.

Recently, I wrote about Santa Fe, New Mexico’s new Sky Railway, which made me think about all the train tie-ins for groups in the U.S. Mountain West and western Canada. Several tourist trains offer special events that groups can tag onto and allow private rental of train cars, and there are venues and museums that celebrate the railroad’s front-and-center place in the development of the West.

 

As travel comes returns in many parts of the world, Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 2022 Star Award winners on April 26, 2022. The United States debuted 10 hotels, three restaurants and seven spas on the Five-Star list. In U.S. Mountain West towns with peaks, 12 hotels, one restaurant, and six spas landed a Five-Star nod. 

 

The slopeside Viewline Resort Snowmass has reopened in the heart of Snowmass Village after a $40 million refresh. Previously known as The Westin Snowmass, this prominent property for meetings and events was purchased in December 2020 and has relaunched with a new name, elevated interior and exterior, and enhanced culinary offerings and guest programming.