In July before we returned to the US, M.E. and I visited my cousin in Konstanz, Germany, see post at this link. From Konstanz we drove to Saalbach – Hinterglemm in Austria about a 5 hour drive through the heart of Austria. We arrived late afternoon in Saalbach where we spent the next 5 days walking on the many wonderful high meadow trails of this region.
Putting it on the map note, on the google map all of the red lines are ski lifts
Saalbach and Hinterglemm are sister villages about a mile apart that sit way up a dead end valley. The valley is around the corner from Zell am See, a more well known resort. It was wonderful to be in the mountains after spending most of the summer in the hot desert. The weather in the valley was mostly overcast with occasional showers. We really did not mind, it was so nice to be in a place where there were clouds in the sky and it actually rained. (for months on end the skies in Al Khobar are a brilliant blue with not a cloud in the sky) For us, it was a great change of pace, to be in such a lovely place.
The area is very impressive, besides being incredibly beautiful, this little valley really has its act together. They have put together a rather interesting marketing plan to draw tourists/families to the area (which is their main source of revenue) and to keep them in the valley for their entire stay. They have a pass available from participating hotels, free to their guests. The pass gives you unlimited access to a half dozen ski lifts operating during the summer, a small scale train ride that goes way up to the end of the valley, bus service, tennis courts both inside and out, miniature golf, outdoor swimming park and museums, all free. Plus reduced pricing on a high rope course (the biggest in Austria),a treetop path, mountain bikers learning course, taxi rides, quad riding, archery, summer tobogganing, power gliding, mud baths, more museums, a 5200 foot zip-line and the list goes on. I have never seen so many family activities in one place.
The other thing I was very surprised at was the number of mountain bikers. Half the folks you saw in the area were bikers. This is one of my first experiences being in the Alps during the summer and it seems that racing down the mountains on a bike has become a huge sport. There are set courses from the top to the bottom on each of the mountains. A dirt trail has been created that features banked turns, jumps, wood bridges, steep drop offs, rough terrain and obstacles like rocks etc. Besides wearing helmets the riders wear knee and shin pads, heavy gloves, elbow and arm pads among other equipment. Is seem like Saalbach – Hinterglemm has completely embraced this sport. Special cabins on the ski lifts have been modified with seats being removed to accommodate the bikes. And in the parking lot next to the lift, washing facilities have been brought in, so at the end of the day the bikers can clean off their bikes and themselves. I was really amazed by all of this. But when you think about it, skiers do the same thing, racing down the mountain with two boards strapped to their feet in the middle of winter??? It all seemed like good fun with dads and kids enjoying themselves. For me I will stick to the hiking and the skiing.
Below are some pictures of the area. I am adding a second post on Saalbach because of the number of pictures I pulled out to view. I hope you enjoy them.