Shasta, looking fine

Shasta, looking damn fine. Photo: Nick Cahill.

The Inertia

Sliding on snow in July? Without leaving the Northern Hemisphere? What is this sorcery? Well, there’s no real magic behind it. North America’s huge, with many high-elevation, glaciated peaks in the West. So if you don’t mind driving and/or walking and/or biking to get to the snow line AND you have the wherewithal to navigate saggy glaciers, you could ride almost every day of the year, including the Fourth of July.

Keep in mind that self-propelled summer shredding is no joke, ripe with long approaches, bottomless holes, grumpy bears and complex route finding. So unless you’re able to manage all that on your own, it’s best to find an open ski area, hire a guide or tag along with an experienced group.

Either way, here’s a non-exhaustive list of places you can ski and snowboard to celebrate America’s independence. 

Mount Shasta, California

When it comes to making turns year-round, volcanoes are often your best bet. Lucky for you, the PNW is covered in ‘em. The Cascade Volcanic Arc starts north of the border in British Columbia, and extends down into Northern California, where a summertime snow sniffer might set their sights on Mount Shasta. Historically, late May and June are what one might call “volcano season,” but this trip report here from Jeremy Jones and The Karokoram crew is from early July. 

Towering 14,179 feet above sea level, Shasta’s known to provide turns every month of the calendar year. And it’s got a couple relatively user-friendly routes. Who knows? You might even bump into a Lemurian, one of the seven-foot tall, white-robed beings who live in the lost city under the mountain.

Shasta’s a real trip, man.

Mt. Baker or Mt. Adams, Washington 

We’re not talking about the ski hill of the same name, though the skilled mountaineer could maybe find a few turns off Mount Shuskan, the peak that casts its shadow over the legendary resort.  In this case, we’re referring to the massive, f@#$koff volcano—also part of the Cascade Arc — that sits just west of the ski area and dominates the skyline between Seattle and the Canadian border. 

It’s not as tall as Shasta, Rainier, Mount Adams or some of the other Cascade volcanoes. But what Mount Baker lacks in elevation, it makes up in complicated terrain. Ringing in at 10,790 feet, the mountain’s covered in 13 different glaciers. So make sure you’ve got your wits about you, not to mention your fitness. If all that’s in order, you can snowboard or ski on Mount Baker well into summer.

Now, if you want a straightforward line that’s more of the “classic” variety, with relatively less hazards, Mt. Adams much further south is an excellent choice where you’ll most likely run into ski and snowboarders from Hood River or Portland. This from SkiMountaineer.com: “The South Rib (Suksdorf Ridge) route is crevasse-free, providing one of the easier climbing routes and nicest ski runs on any of the northern Cascade volcanoes. It has over 7,000 feet of skiable vertical in the spring, including a near-perfect 30-degree pitch for over 2,500 feet below the false summit. An even better descent is the Southwest Chutes variation, which drops for over 4,000 vertical feet from the false summit at a consistent 35-40 degree pitch.” Do your own research but that sounds pretty rad to us.

Tioga Pass, California

If traipsing around active, glaciated volcanoes isn’t your jam, maybe one of the high mountain passes will yield the summertime shredding that you so desire. Tioga Pass, which climbs just shy of 9,000 feet on Highway 120, is California’s highest road linking the Eastern Sierras to Yosemite National Park. 

Depending on snow coverage, the pass will be plowed and open to drivers sometime between early May and late July. But with this past winter’s leaner snowfall, Tioga Pass has been good to go since the middle of May. The road puts you within striking distance of a huge assortment of peaks, many of which hold snow well into July.

Check out a conditions update from late May here.

Mount Hood – Timberline Lodge Ski Area, Oregon

While most of the volcanoes in western North America can be charitably described as self-propelled sufferfests, Timberline Lodge, on Mount Hood, is an easy, breezy, lift-accessed affair. The Palmer Chairlift whisks riders up to 8,450 feet. And while the mountain hosts many legendary summer camps and training centers, there is a public lane (and public halfpipe!) for the everyman.

At time of writing (late June 2024), Timberline Lodge is the only outdoor ski hill open in North America and the projected closing date is August 11. They resort even had a seven-inch powder day on June 16!

Whistler – Coast Mountains – Canada

For the first time in more than three decades, Whistler Blackcomb had to pull the pin on its summer operations for 2024. The low snowfall over the 2023-2024 season played a huge role in that decision, but the real issue is the surface lift—The Showcase T-Bar—becoming borderline inoperable due to the recession of the glacier on which it sits. 

Hopefully, 2025 will see the camps and day-skiers return to Blackcomb’s ever-dwindling glaciers. If you’re really motivated in the meantime, Canada’s Coast Mountains are peppered with north-facing couloirs, glaciers, and even a couple volcanoes from the Cascade Arc, that hold the snow year-round. Just be ready for mind-numbing approaches, bloodthirsty mosquitos and crevasses that can swallow you whole.

Don’t let all that dissuade you though. Here’s a recent video from that area.

Canadian Rockies

In a general sense, “The Canadian Rockies” cover most of the noteworthy mountain ranges in Western Canada. But for Canucks, the term refers to the mountains around Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper, Alberta. The microclimate is significantly colder than the Selkirk Mountains around Revelstoke and Whistler’s Coast Mountains, so the Rockies can be a good place to find snow, maybe even powder-type-turns, in the summer months. But those turns will likely be on one of the range’s vast icefields, so they’re a hard nope unless you’re glacier savvy and/or riding with a guide. That being said, you can usually sniff out a lingering, non-glaciated swath of summertime snow if you choose the right spot.

Palisades Tahoe, California

You’re right. Palisades closed for the season on Memorial Day this year, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for your 2024 Independence Day shred. But they still make the list because The Fourth of July was their last day for skiing and snowboarding in 2023. And if snowfall allows in 2025 and beyond, we’d like to think they’ll do that again…


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