While Caribbean beaches can make you lazy, ski towns spark something inside of you to explore and try new things. And summer is the perfect time to try something new: Disc Golf! Over the past few years, our entire crew has joined in on the fun. While golfing is expensive, Disc Golf is the polar opposite. For around forty bucks, you can pick up some discs and start playing this game for FREE! Here’s some of the best disc golf courses in the US to visit for some summer fun in the mountains.
Disc Golf, What’s That?
Bob Hope once said that “Golf is a good walk gone bad.” If that’s true, then Disc Golf is a good hike made excellent. Throughout ski towns in North America, nearly every one of them has at least one Disc Golf course.
So, what exactly is Disc Golf? Similar to golf, there is a series of holes (disc golf baskets) with predetermined pars (set of throws) to get your golf ball (disc) into the hole (basket). For Disc Golf, each hole has a sign telling you the distance to the basket and how many throws you get… so no guessing. You will be an informed player.
How To Select Your Discs
Like starting any new any sport, it’s better to begin with the minimal amount of gear and go from there. So, what do you need to play Disc Golf? First, it’s good to start with three discs:
These can be purchased at any typical sporting goods store. If you are in South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Sports LTD offers a good selection. On the North Shore, Tahoe Mountain Sports has the best overall selection ranging from Innova, Discraft, and Vibram brands. To help with your selection, each disc will be marked if it’s a putter, driver, or mid-range disc along with other fun (and important) facts.
Best Disc Golf Courses
Every state and province in North America has amazing Disc Golf courses, but ski towns bring it to the next level. They do this by giving you amazing views, beautiful scenery, and the ability to squeeze a hike in WHILE you’re playing the sport. Here are just a few of the more majestic courses out there:
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
It has everything you want in a Colorado hike and a Disc Golf course. The natural beauty makes this one of the most picturesque courses in Colorado. The smell of fresh pine leads you into the woods, but have no fear, the course is well marked so you won’t get lost. Granite, sage, pine, and mountain views abound. Benches along the course, made out of old snowboards, also add a nice touch.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Spectacular is the only description for this course. It’s over 2.2 miles in length and starts with a 400′ downhill shot from an elevation of 10,300′! Breath taking views are all around you as the course winds its way up and down the slopes of Mt. Crested Butte. Good variety but beware… the rough will eat your discs.
Vadito, New Mexico
It is all about towering views and fun up and down ski hills with big elevation. The holes are in and around, up and down the actual ski runs. A bunch of hills, some water (the Rio Pueblo), and many trees. There’s even a store, a restaurant, and lodging. It’s the whole package!
What’s better than one course? How about two super courses at one of the Northeast’s premier ski resorts. The Base Course is on ski trails and through woods at the base of the mountain. If that isn’t interesting enough, the Peak Course requires a chairlift ride up the mountain. Most of the holes are then cross-hill or downhill with significant elevation changes. Sugarbush even hosted a PDGA National Tour event in 2007 and an A-Tier in 2008.
Crystal Mountain, Washington
In the summer, this dapper ski resort near Mt. Rainer sets up its course. What a beautiful area! If the restaurant is open at the top of the mountain, consider splurging and doing a weekend dinner ride up the lift. The course starts at the base of the ski resort and traverses and climbs upwards followed by some big downhills back to the infamous bar, the Snorting Elk.
Bijou Community Park
South Lake Tahoe, California
There are many courses around Lake Tahoe including the Kirkwood Mountain Golf Course and Zephyr Cove. While Kirkwood & Zephyr might be a beautiful course and hike all in one, for a beginner, it might be a bit too challenging and leave you frustrated. Instead, we recommend checking out Bijou Park. Located right smack dab in the center of town, it features 27 holes that offer a challenge for all skill levels. The second nine holes are where the views become incredible. Bordering a beautiful alpine meadow, they give you 180-degree views of the surrounding mountains including Heavenly Mountain.
About forty five miles outside of Denver in the foothills is an elusive adventure unlike any other on the list. Tucked in the foothills of the Rockies those who’ve played it say it’s one of the best disc golf courses in the country. First, you need to reserve a tee-time by 10 a.m. and only TWO tee-times are available per day. This is to make sure that you can enjoy the beauty, serenity, and course to its fullest. This isn’t for the faint-hearted either. Situated at an elevation of 7,500′ above sea level, it will challenge the most serious disc golfers. The strenuous 28-hole (expanding to 36) is very hilly, very rocky, and very steep in places. Since it’s on private land, be respectful.
For a tee-time and more info, check out their page: Friends Of The BuckSnort. Be sure to set aside time at the end of the day to stop at the century old iconic watering hole known as the Bucksnort Saloon. It’s an experience, not just a bar or restaurant.
Traverse City, Michigan
This list wouldn’t be right without highlighting at least one course in Michigan. The headquarters of Discraft is in Wixom, Michigan. It’s the state with the third most active PDGA members and all-time PDGA-sanctioned events behind Texas and California (both other states have more than DOUBLE and TRIPLE the population, so per capita it’s higher). And when it comes to the ultimate road trip for disc golfing, we’ve heard from our friends the US-31 corridor might be one of the finest in the world. It features places like:
Beauty, Beast, Goliath, Leviathan in Ludington
Flip City Disc Golf Course in Shelby
And of course, Hickory Hills in one of the 10 Ski Towns To Visit That You Probably Never Heard Of for summer fun — Traverse City. Due to it being located in Michigan, you’d guess the course would be flat as a pancake. Well, you’d be wrong. Located on an active ski area, during the winter months it actually features a lot of elevation change. Expect a mixture of open and tight wooded fairways and sweeping views including one overlooking the West Grand Traverse Bay. As of 2019, the 24-hole course has been divided into two-18 hole layouts.
Although these aren’t by ski towns, we wanted to give a shout out to a few of the legends that we’ve heard great things about and are on our personal hit list to visit:
- Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA
- Rollin Ridge – Reedsville, WI
- Blue Ribbon Pines Disc Golf Course – East Bethel, MN
- Selah Ranch – Talco, TX
Disc Golf isn’t about power but technique
One last thing to highlight is that Disc Golf is more about technique than power. We learned that the hard way… so before even stepping onto the course, we highly suggest watching the video below. And don’t forget to have fun! For more about the history of the sport and a few more tips, check out our more in-depth article on how to play Disc Golf.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to have fun in ski towns during the warmer months like mountain biking, whitewater rafting, or just an all-inclusive spa like the Caribbean check out our comprehensive guide: