Guests at Mountain Creek and try zip lining and more...

Guests at Mountain Creek and try zip lining and more fun activities.  Credit: Mountain Creek

While the rest of America was boisterously celebrating the Bicentennial, a medium-sized, family-oriented ski resort in central Vermont was quietly fomenting a revolution of its own. For it was over the July 4, 1976, weekend that Bromley, in an attempt to lure summer visitors with more than just “scenic chair lift” rides, inaugurated America’s first alpine slide, a luge-like sled that riders negotiated down a banked concrete (and later fiberglass) trough.

As attested to by the 3½-hour long lines, it was a spectacular success. Within four years, 10 other Northeastern ski resorts had their own alpine slides and the race to the bottom was on. Over the next two decades, roughly two dozen additional resorts entered the fray, offering a gradually expanding menu of downwardly mobile attractions such as mountain bikes, mountain coasters, zip lines, rope courses and gravity-dependent water parks. By the early 2000s, the conversion from wasteful down time to profitable big time was complete.

Then came the Great Recession and its resulting market consolidation. While many smaller resorts got squeezed dry, many of the larger ones got even bigger in their competitive frenzy to provide thrill-seeking summertime visitors with not just a full day’s worth of gravity-defying fun, but several of them also added upscale base lodges for guests to spend even more time at the resorts.

Here are five of the Northeast’s largest mountain adventure resort complexes, each of which offers Long Island families plenty of refreshing mountain air, abundant natural scenery and a variety of altitude-adjusting activities.   

Mountain Creek Resort

Surf Hill is an eight-lane head-first racing slide built into...

Surf Hill is an eight-lane head-first racing slide built into the natural contours of the mountain at Mountain Creek.  Credit: Mountain Creek

Reborn as Mountain Creek in 1998, the resort, which boasts its own luxury lodge, the Appalachian, features three marquee attractions. The most popular is its 16-ride, multi-pool water park that features the Zero G’s 100-foot drop, imitation Arizona and West Virginia whitewater rapids, and includes access to a 2,800-foot-long mountain coaster. Day passes start at $49.99 for the water park (free under 2).

Appealing to more serious thrill seekers is the Mountain Creek Bike Park where beginner, intermediate and expert riders alike can test their pedal mettle on 52 trails with a vertical drop of over 1,000 feet. Full-day passes are $63 for all ages, rentals available.

Mountain Creek’s only true adventure park offering is its two-hour zip tour that, after a short shakedown zip, takes participants on zips of 750, 1,300, and 1,500 feet over a mountain top lake. $50 for all ages. But just down the road is TreEscape, Great Gorge’s three-hour aerial ropes course. $55 ages 7 and up, $26 ages 4-6. All reservations must be made online. In addition, Mountain Creek is now fully cashless.

INFO 200 NJ-94, Vernon Township, New Jersey; 973-827-2000, mountaincreek.com

Camelback Resort

The Camelback Resort offers tons of fun for kids including...

The Camelback Resort offers tons of fun for kids including a water park. Credit: Camelback Resort

Not surprisingly, the largest ski resort in the Poconos is also its largest summer adventure destination, thanks primarily to Camelbeach Outdoor Waterpark, the state’s largest, now in its 25th season. A grand total of 38 slides and rides, including the new Rival Racer, will keep the fun flowing all day long. General admission is $40, 48 inches and taller; $30, less than 48 inches.

Terrestrial and airborne activities on the a la carte menu at Camelback Mountain Adventures consist of a mountain coaster ($18), Zip Rider ($48), Zip Flyer ($63), Sunbowl tubing ($25), UTV tours ($265, for up to 6) and Segway tours ($63, weekends only.)

All rooms at the Camelback Lodge include complimentary admission to its Aquatopia indoor water park, the East Coast’s largest. The resort also features a video arcade, laser tag, bumper cars and a climbing wall. Parking is $25 per night. Camelbeach and Mountain Adventure tickets must be purchased online.

INFO 193 Resort Drive, Tannersville, Pennsylvania; 570-­629-­1665; camelbackresort.com

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort

The Aerial Adventure Park at the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. 

The Aerial Adventure Park at the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.  Credit: Jiminy Peak

The largest ski resort in southern New England was two years behind Bromley in getting an alpine slide. But it was the first on the East Coast to install a mountain coaster, which continues to be the mainstay of its seven-attraction Adventure Park, the other five being the Soaring Eagle (seated zip line), a giant swing, a climbing wall and a bungy trampoline. Four-hour passes: $34 for 38-53 inches; $44 for 54 inches and over; $5 more at the window.

Requiring its own ticket, though combinations are available, is Aerial Adventures, a series of seven, self-guided ropes courses of varying degrees of difficulty. Two-hour passes: $34 for 48-53 inches; $44 for 54 inches and over. Experienced mountain bikers will find plenty of challenges here as well, with day lift passes running $34 for all ages. (Rentals not available).

Packages: Stay at the Country Inn Suites (base lodge) and receive two complimentary Adventure Park or All Park Passes per night’s stay. Also available are stay two/get the third night free deals (prices vary by date and number of guests).

INFO: 37 Corey Rd Hancock, MA; 413-738-5500, jiminypeak.com

Killington

Take a ride at the Killington Resort adventure center.

Take a ride at the Killington Resort adventure center. Credit: Killington Resort/Chandler Burgess

The summer lineup at Killington has tons of fun things to do including a ropes course, zip line racers, a gondola, a trampoline jump, a seated zip, a ninja course and a maze. Day passes begin at $64 weekday/$73 weekend ages 7 and older ($31 weekday/$35 weekends ages 6 and under) when bought online. Single-ride tickets are also available. Killington is now a cashless resort.

Visitors can plan an overnight stay at the Killington Grand Resort (base lodge) and a number of Killington condominium complexes (prices vary by date and number of guests). There’s also free tent and RV camping at the Vale Road and Ramshead parking lots. 

INFO 3861 Killington Road, Killington, Vermont; 877-458-4637, killington.com

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Smugglers’ Notch Resort activities include four water playgrounds, a skate...

Smugglers’ Notch Resort activities include four water playgrounds, a skate park, mini-golf, an indoor entertainment center, two mountain biking skills courses and 10 miles of non-lift-serviced trails. Credit: Smugglers’ Notch Resort

“America’s family resort” began its offseason life as overflow housing for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. A half-century later, some 500 families will be here on any given summer week with the kids participating in daylong (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) counselor-led programs arranged by age groups ($119 per day, with a state-certified day care facility for infants and toddlers), while their parents partake in a smorgasbord of recreational activities or pay-as-you-go off-site or educational offerings.     

Resort activities include four water playgrounds, a skate park, mini-golf, an indoor entertainment center, two mountain biking skills courses and 10 miles of non-lift-serviced trails. Family fun time resumes after dinner with nightly entertainment and a weekly bonfire.

Family Vacation Packages at one of more than two dozen condominium complexes can only be booked through a Smugg’s Vacation Planning Specialist (prices vary by date and number of guests).

INFO 4323 Vermont RT. 108 South Jeffersonville, Vermont; 800-419-4615, smuggs.com

Latest Videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME