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Monday, June 20, 2011
Updated: July 5, 5:34 PM ET
Tram skiing. Now.


There are only two places you can ski off a tram in the summer: Jackson Hole and Snowbird.

Europe is known for its tram skiing, where at places like Verbier and Chamonix, trams whisk skiers to the tops of alpine peaks in seemingly every direction. But the U.S. has a few trams, too -- Jackson Hole, Snowbird, Squaw Valley, Big Sky, Alyeska, Cannon, Jay Peak, Snowbasin, and Heavenly all have trams. And even now, in late June, you can still ski off a couple of these trams.

And by a couple, we mean exactly two: Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Snowbird, Utah, are the only resorts in the U.S. that allow passengers to bring skis and snowboards on the tram during the summer months. Many of the other resorts' trams operate in the summer for hiking and sightseeing, but passengers are forbidden to bring skis or snowboards on board. Why, you ask?

Some places simply don't have the snow. "Alyeska does not allow skis on the tram in the summer, and we don't have enough snow to make it worthwhile anyway," says Alyeska's spokesperson Amy Quesenberry. Other ski areas have the snow, but not the infrastructure. "Even though the snow would support it relatively deep into the summer season, it's not a product we offer as it would involve a series of lifts and some downloads to pull it off," says Big Sky's PR manager Chad Jones.

So, if you're looking to get your ski on off a tram this month, head to Jackson or Snowbird. At Jackson Hole, an unusually cool and snowy spring -- almost 200 inches have fallen since April 3 -- has set Jackson up for an unprecedented backcountry summer season. The catch with Jackson, however, is that skiers are required to leave resort boundaries before putting equipment on and they're forbidden to ski inbounds. And of course, skiers are expected to possess backcountry travel skills and be prepared for extended emergency response time.

At Snowbird, the tram is open to skiers from 8 a.m. 2 p.m. (from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., it's open to foot passengers only). Snowbird is open for skiing on weekends until July 4. Afer July 4: "You can bring your skis and snowboards on the tram, and even ski/ride within resort property on the usual runs, but it is all considered out-of-bounds/backcountry," says Snowbird's Emily Moench.