Park City

The West has some of the best scenic hiking in the entire country.

One of our favorite summer pastimes is hitting the dirt road and taking to the hills for a nice, long hike. And because of its clear skies, open pastures, and low humidity, there’s no better place in the U.S. to hit the trail than out West. Boasting countless National Parks and some of the most spectacular wildlife in the nation, the West is an adventurer’s paradise. Whether you’re in search of New Age stimulation or a adrenaline-filled adventure, grab your walking stick because we’ve found some of the best hiking spots the West has to offer.

 

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Let’s see if you can guess what the following events have in common: a super-secret conference hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers; a concert with $10,000 tickets featuring Mariah Carey; and an uber-luxe weekend golf retreat in Deer Valley, Utah.

If you guessed political campaign fundraising, you guessed right. Each of those events was orchestrated for one purpose — to help either Romney or Obama win the 2012 election. (Romney is currently pulling in more dollars — specifically, $35 million more than Obama in the month of June.)

But the events had something else in common, too — they all took place at some of the country’s top luxury hotels. And we wouldn’t be the hotel tell-all if we didn’t spill the details on just what went down — and where.

We’ve provided helpful color coded icons in Republican red and Democratic blue to let you know which event helped whom.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA R.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA

The Event: “Path to Freedom 2012,” a fundraising summit hosted by the Koch brothers, June 24

The Power Players: The Koch brothers, conservative oil tycoons each worth $25 billion

The Spoils: Unknown, but it’s been reported that their annual fundraising goal is $400 million.

Security at the Park Hyatt Aviara was extremely tight for the Koch brothers’ biannual fundraiser, and few details about the guest list or speeches have been leaked. (A BuzzFeed reporter did manage to sneak in, before getting the boot for not wearing a name tag.) But we’re sure the wealthy conservatives who gathered to conspire raise money enjoyed the property’s gorgeous pool with lagoon views, Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, and serene gardens. See exclusive photos of the hotel

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10 Best Mountain Views

Can you figure out where this picture was taken?

 

Although the snow is melting, ski destinations can be just as pleasurable when the weather heats up — and they’ve got the serious scenery to back it. And even if you’re not into a rugged vacay, there are still plenty of spots for you to chill out with incredible mountain views. Check out our ten favorite now!

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Lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Park City; Park City, UT

Lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Park City; Park City, UT

The fourth episode of this season of The Bachelor, which aired Monday night on ABC, brought fan-favorite Ben and the contestants to Park City, Utah. It may have been a new location, but it was the same story: There was backstabbing, cat fights, a lot of tears, and plenty of “I think I’m falling in love with being on TV Ben.” And, per usual, it all went down in super-luxe digs — Ben and the women were put up in the Waldorf Astoria Park City, an upscale hotel at The Canyons resort. Check out photos of where the drama unfolded at the hotel  after the jump.

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The main lobby at Bear Hollow Village; Park City, UT

If you’re lucky enough to be heading out to Park City next week for the Sundance Film Festival, you’re gonna need a hotel to set up shop — one brimming with celebs, of course. The festival is probably more known for stars photographed in winter’s finest gear rather than the indie films it centers around, which means that the hotel scene is ripe for an A-list glimpse. Your best bet star search-wise would be to check out the Sky Lodge, a centrally located, upscale property with slick amenities like balconies with hot tubs and top to bottom stylized decor. If you’re hoping to hit the slopes, the 170-room Stein Eriksen Lodge offers ski-in, ski-out access to the powdery mountains of Deer Valley Resort. And should you be traveling with family in tow, look into Bear Hollow Village. With its super-cozy atmosphere (it has mini-condos and townhouses instead of traditional hotel rooms), the lack of Wi-Fi or a flat-screen TVs in some spaces is made up for by washer/dryers, fireplaces and sleek kitchens in every condo. Want more? Read the full guide to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival now >>

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Everyone promised that you would have skiing down in no time, right? Instead, you got stuck on the “Magic Carpet” and could barely manage the “pizza” while ski-clad tots were gracefully whizzing past you. Trust us, we’ve been there. But after many failed attempts at tricky ski maneuvers like getting off the ski-lift without face planting, we’ve learned a new trick: how to find the coolest non-skiing activities in ski towns. In fact, ski towns have a lot more to offer than just the slopes — we promise! So for those of you who got roped into a ski-centric vacation, check out our favorite non-skier activities in nine ski destinations below.

Vail

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort

Ice-skate: If you’d rather not hit the slopes, ice-skating is a great way to still get outdoors and get your heart rate pumping. There is an ice-skating rink right out the front door of The Arrabelle in Vail Square, with views of the slopes, the village, and the massive Christmas tree.

The Sebastian - Vail

The Sebastian - Vail

Go on a Dogsled Tour: While your friends are out enjoying the fresh powder on the slopes, you can be too — but in the comfort of a horse, er, dog-drawn sleigh. Winterhawk Dogsled Adventures runs daily tours in Alaskan husky-drawn sleds; the basic tour explores the expansive grounds of the historic 4 Eagle Ranch, while adventure tours run across more remote terrain at a higher altitude. The concierge at The Sebastian can arrange a tour for you, even ahead of your stay.

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