Beaver Creek reveals terrain offering for Wednesday’s season opener

Beaver Creek Resort will kick off the 2023-24 ski season Wednesday with 55 acres of terrain accessible via Haymeadow Park and Gold Dust, with Centennial Express Lift and Haymeadow Gondola spinning from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As usual, guests will be treated to the resort’s signature chocolate chip cookies, which will be available at the Centennial Express base area in the morning. There will also be complimentary coffee and hot cocoa, a banner break at the top of Centennial Express, a live DJ, and a bloody mary bar at Spruce Saddle Lodge. The Ice Cream Parlour will also serve up sweet treats atop the Haymeadow Gondola.

Beaver Creek opens the season with a new vice president and chief operating officer. Bobby Murphy succeeds Nadia Guerriero, who led the resort since 2019 before moving into her new position in May as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Resorts’ Rockies Region.

For Murphy, who worked at Vail Mountain from 2010 to 2017, it’s a bit of a homecoming of sorts.

Opening celebration events continue throughout the week, including the Beaver Creek Cookie Competition, Tree Lighting and Ice Spectacular, and Holiday Market.

The festivities will continue Wednesday in Beaver Creek Village starting at 1 p.m. with the Beaver Creek Cookie Competition, featuring five Colorado bakers. Each baker has hand-crafted their own recipe and will bake 1,000 cookies for judges to crown the winner, based on taste. All participants will receive a cash prize, with the grand champion taking home $2,000.

The Tree Lighting and Ice Spectacular will take place Friday, Nov. 24. Beaver Creek Village will be bustling with activities, including ice skating, a meet and greet with Santa, and a craft workshop. The show will begin at 5 p.m., with ice skating performers and live music groups. Following the lighting of the tree, fireworks will illuminate the sky.

Guests can also enjoy a Holiday Market filled with regional artisans starting Friday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Beaver Creek Village.

Mobile pass and mobile lift ticket technology will be available to guests for the 2023-24 winter season on the new My Epic app. The new technology will allow guests to buy their pass or lift ticket online, activate and store it on their phone in the My Epic app, put their phone in their pocket, and get scanned, hands-free, via Bluetooth technology designed for low energy usage.

VIDEO: Take a run down Swingsville on Vail Mountain Opening Day 2023

Vail Daily reporter John LaConte checks out the conditions on Vail Mountain for Opening Day 2023.

Here’s how much terrain Vail Mountain will offer Friday when resort opens

Vail Mountain is set to open for its 62nd season on Friday, Nov. 10, with access to 55 acres of terrain across two runs from two gondolas.

Gondola One and Eagle Bahn Gondola will start spinning at 9 a.m. and service Swingsville and Ramshorn, as well as beginner terrain at the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola.

Mid-Vail at the Look Ma Terrace level will serve home-smoked German sausages and ramen among other items. Buffalo’s, Rocky’s Road House Grill and Eagle’s Nest Market Place will all be open as well. Additionally, the Express Lift Bar will be open for Apres, according to John Plack with Vail Mountain.

The Opening Day will be the earliest in 25 years and feature complimentary strudel and warm drinks, as well as a DJ, 10th Mountain Whiskey tasting, and the classic ceremonial banner break.

“We are excited to start the ski and snowboard season with beginner and intermediate trails, and two gondolas spinning,” said Beth Howard, vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain in a news release on Wednesday. “Our snowmaking and grooming teams have prepared more than 55 acres for guests to enjoy, and they’ll be leveraging our state-of-the-art snowmaking system to open more terrain as quickly as possible.” 

Vail, Beaver Creek weather forecast calls for snowfall up to 10 inches this week

It isn’t yet time to put away the bikes and golf clubs, but the Vail Valley could see some measurable snowfall this week. How much remains to be seen.

The National Weather Service is calling for snow starting Wednesday evening and lasting on and off into Thursday evening.

The Weather Service isn’t predicting snowfall amounts, but overnight temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s in the overnight hours of Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.

The forecasters at are being more specific, predicting that Vail and Beaver Creek could see as much as 10 inches from Wednesday into Friday.

That’s welcome news after a fairly dry fall season so far. It’s also just a few weeks until the scheduled Nov. 10 opening at Vail Mountain.

Weather patterns in the western U.S. are often affected by water temperatures in a portion of the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 west of Ecuador.

Water this season in that part of the Pacific is a bit warmer than average, creating an “El Nino” pattern. Cooler-than-average water temperatures are known as “La Nina” patterns.

The effects of those patterns can be difficult to predict. In Colorado ski area terms, El Nino patterns tend to benefit the Wolf Creek ski area, while La Nina patterns can help Steamboat Springs.

Again, though, just about anything can happen.

Dennis Phillips is a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office. Phillips said while the El Nino and La Nina patterns can affect larger weather patterns, snowfall across the West is determined more by how far north or south “atmospheric rivers” track across the U.S.

The forecast

Here’s this week’s National Weather Service forecast for Vail:
Oct. 10: Mostly sunny, with a high of 66 and low of about 36.
Oct. 11: A chance of morning showers, then showers and a possible thunderstorm after noon, and a high near 59. The evening forecast calls for snow possible after 10 p.m.
Oct. 12: Snow showers are likely before noon, with a daytime high of 43. Evening snow showers are possible, with a low around 22.
Oct. 13: Mostly sunny, with a high near 50 and overnight low around 21.

The winter of 2022-23 was another anomaly, Phillips said. Last season was the third consecutive La Nina pattern in the Pacific, and “everybody” received good snow, he said.

Want the news to come to you? Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here:

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center looks at trends and provides seasonal precipitation and temperature outlooks. The forecast for November through January calls for “equal chances” of above- and below-average snowfall and temperatures for much of the western U.S., including Colorado. The forecast for January through March of 2024 continues the “equal chances” trend in the Mountain West, although the southern U.S. from California to Florida could see above-average chances of precipitation through the first quarter of next year.

But in Eagle County, expect dry conditions to return Friday and last until the middle of next week.

9 of the Vail Valley’s best fall foliage hikes

There’s a chill in the air now that wasn’t there two weeks ago. The sure sign of fall is here. Even though anti-pumpkin folks are up in arms about Starbucks’ decision to put the infamous pumpkin spice latte on the menu on Aug. 25 — the earliest release ever — there’s no denying that here in the Vail Valley, we’re starting to see inklings of fall weather. Combined with the lack of rain and hot and dry weather, trees are starting to lose their leaves already.

Before we know it, that two-week period where leaves are at peak color will be here. There are plenty of ways to enjoy fall in the Vail Valley, but if you’re a hiker, don’t get caught flat-footed. If  you want those peak fall hikes, you’ve got to be prepared. Luckily for you, the Vail Daily has put together a list.

There are hiking options for all levels and all types of moods. In the mood for a quick half-day trek or an after-work hike? Try East Lake Creek, or stick with reliable classics at Vail’s North Trail. If you’re planning a full day of activity and want your butt kicked, try Nolan Lake, Lake Charles or even the full Meadow Mountain loop.

Here are nine fantastic fall hikes for viewing fall foliage colors in the Vail Valley.

Upper Piney River Trail

An aspen grove near Piney Lake above Vail exhibits bright greens and yellows during the fall of 2008.
Lauren Glendenning | Daily file photo

Location: Vail

Length: 6.1 miles out-and-back

Elevation gain: 845 feet

Difficulty: Intermediate

Upper Piney is a classic Vail hike for a reason: there are beautiful alpine lake views even from the parking lot. Getting up there is a bit tricky, and requires a long drive on a bumpy dirt road — you’d be best driving a vehicle that has good clearance on the bottom. The hike itself is moderate, with a steady and extremely doable incline that winds through aspen forests. It’s a great half-day outing, and Piney River Ranch is open for full dining and ice cream from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

View on REI Hiking Project

North Trail

The panoramic view from the North Trail lookout point, about 1.75 miles into the “western section.”
Casey Russell |

Location: Vail

Length: 2.5 miles out-and-back for panoramic views

Elevation gain: About 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

The best part about Vail’s North Trail system is that it’s very easy to choose your own adventure here: if you hiked the whole thing, you’d be easily clocking 20 miles of trail. There are multiple trailheads connected to the same network, and all are well-marked. For the purposes of this hike, start at the Buffehr Creek Road trailhead. You’ll climb a few easy switchbacks until you get to an intersection – take the fork that heads up the mountain. From there, the climb gets a bit more challenging, but not difficult. At a 1.75 miles, you’ll come on a flat clearing with expansive, panoramic views stretching from Vail Village to Dowd Junction. Most hikers will be able to complete this in two hours. Feel free to continue on: elevation starts to descend and you can end your hike at Cortina Lane or at the intersection of Arosa Drive and North Frontage Road for 4.4 miles total. Keep your ears open though, this trail is popular with mountain bikers.

View on REI Hiking Project

Meadow Mountain

Meadow Mountain overlooks ranges and winds through aspen groves. At about 3 miles, you reach a beautiful aspen grove with a mellow incline, which is a good place to turn around for a shorter hike.
Casey Russell |

Location: Minturn

Length: 10.3 miles for a full loop

Elevation gain: 2,076 feet

Difficulty: Intermediate/Difficult

This hike through sweeping meadows also offers plenty of options for adventure. It connects with the West Grouse Lake trails, if you’re interested in hitting fall colors and an alpine lake in one hike. For sweeping views of the mountains and foliage, take the loop up the mountain on Line Shack: when you reach the old hunting cabin, you start your descent. This trail winds through aspen forests at times, meadows at others and is also a great spot for birdwatchers: plenty fly over the meadows at all times of day. If your adventure takes you to the adjoining Everkrisp trail, which consists of a lot of rolling hills and has similarly awesome views, be prepared to move out of the way for mountain bikers.

View on REI Hiking Project

Buck Creek

Location: Avon

Length: 7 miles out-and-back

Elevation gain: 2,421 feet

Difficulty: Intermediate/Difficult

This narrow trail ascends steeply and doesn’t let up until the very last half-mile. Around 3 miles is the toughest part, but after that half mile, the trail mellows out for amazing views of Beaver Creek. It intersects with Nottingham Trail here, if you’re not quite pooped at that point, and you can continue on the creek trail from there, and even summit Red and White Mountain. This trail is perfect if you’re looking to burn out your legs like you would in a gym workout. Plus, there are plenty of aspens, and plenty of chances to gawk at trees changing on Beaver Creek.

View on REI Hiking Project

Village to Village Trail

Location: Arrowhead-Beaver Creek

Length: 7.4 miles point-to-point

Elevation gain: Depending on direction, either 585 feet or 2,031 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

Views are what you’re here for with this hike. As the name suggests, you travel from Beaver Creek Village, through Bachelor Gulch and onto Arrowhead—that’s the way people normally take this trail, so it heads downhill rather than uphill, but for a real workout, start at Arrowhead and climb the 2,000 feet to the Beaver Lake Trail area of Beaver Creek. There are plenty of aspens dotting the trail, as well as the opportunity for views when you’re in more open areas on the ski runs.

View on REI Hiking Project

Squaw Creek/Stagg Gulch

The Stagg Gulch hike can be done as a loop with Squaw Creek or as an out-and-back by itself. In addition to wildflowers, the hike has beautiful aspen groves.
Special to the Daily

Location: Edwards

Length: 9.2 miles out-and-back, 4 miles each way to Elk Park

Elevation gain: 1,844 feet

Difficulty: Intermediate

These two trails near Cordillera share a trailhead and a parking lot: when you reach a sharp, hairpin turn going up the mountain face on Squaw Creek Road, keep heading straight instead of turning up onto Fenno Drive. About one mile into the trail itself, the path splits into Squaw Creek and Stagg Gulch. Squaw Creek is mellower and ends up at the Elk Park meadows after 4 miles. Stagg Gulch has a steeper incline but gets to the top faster. The trails can be turned into a loop, to experience both sides of the trail.

View on REI Hiking Project

East Lake Creek

The East Lake Creek Trail offers an accessible trailhead outside Edwards.
Casey Russell |

Location: Edwards

Length: 24.4 miles out-and-back, 3 miles each way to bridge and creek  

Elevation gain: 3,387 feet for the whole trail, about 1,000 for the half-day hike

Difficulty: Intermediate

The most common hike on this section of trail is to trek 3 miles out to a clearing where a bridge crosses the creek – this is a great spot to stop, enjoy the views, and maybe lunch or a snack. The full trail ascends to Upper Camp Lake over the course of 12 miles. Early on in the trail, it also intersects with Dead Dog Trail, which will send hikers on a difficult trek into the Holy Cross Wilderness. Remember that if you’re opting for the half-day 6-mile option, you’ll still have a decent amount of ascent on the way back, so make sure to pace yourself. The beginning of this trail is best for leaf-peeping, as it winds up and down through a dense aspen grove.

View on REI Hiking Project

Nolan Lake

The hike to Nolan Lake is a 6-mile trek almost entirely uphill. The trailhead is near Eagle, and wildflowers are abundant in the area now.
Alex Spaeth | Special to the Daily

Location: Fulford

Length: 5.6 miles out-and-back

Elevation gain: 1,475 feet

Difficulty: Difficult

Don’t let the short mileage fool you: with 1,475 feet to gain on the trail, you’re clocking 400-500 feet of vertical gain per mile. You can stop about 2.5 miles into the trail for views across a meadow, or hike .3 miles more to summit. The trail to the lake is marked by cairns and can be difficult to make out, so stay alert. At the top, enjoy views of Craig Peak and the northern Sawatch Mountains.

View on REI Hiking Project

Lake Charles

Lake Charles, as well as Mystic Island Lake, require a moderate hike starting near Eagle.
Special to the Daily

Location: Fulford

Length: 9.8 miles out-and-back

Elevation gain: 1,920 feet

Difficulty: Intermediate/Difficult

The trail is fairly mellow for the first two and a half miles, climbing steadily. From there, expect about a mile of steep elevation gain, with incline grades as high as 28%. Lake Charles is surrounded by trees and is just below treeline, making for some great foliage. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, including mountain goats and deer. If you’re up to continue, Mystic Island Lake adds two miles to the trek, but there isn’t much elevation gain, so it’s doable.

View on REI Hiking Project

This story was originally published on Aug. 26, 2020.

Vail targets earliest opening since 1998 as Vail Resorts drops starting dates

Vail Mountain is targeting a Nov. 10 Opening Day, while Beaver Creek is slated to open on Nov. 22, Vail Resorts said in a release issued Wednesday.

The Nov. 10 target for Vail Mountain would be the earliest since 1998 when the mountain opened on Nov. 9.

The push to open Vail Mountain earlier began in 2018 after five straight seasons of Vail Mountian opening on Nov. 20 or later. The mountain installed a new snowmaking system in 2019, lining the sides of runs with large fan guns connected directly to a water line that was installed beneath the mountain, along with a power feed, also buried underground. Working with its supplier, Vail came up with a new technology that it calls a swing arm gun for some of the resort’s hard-to-reach places.

The first-day-of-season offering was switched from Born Free in Lionshead to Ramshorn and Swingsville in the Mid-Vail area, with guests riding Gondola One to an elevation 2,000 feet higher, with temperatures 10 degrees cooler, to start their ski day.

Since that time — 2020 excluded — Vail has been able to open earlier and earlier, opening on Nov. 14 in 2018, Nov. 15 in 2019, Nov. 12 in 2021 and Nov. 11 in 2022.

Breckenridge is slated to open Nov. 10 along with Vail Mountain.

All opening dates could change, though, depending on weather.

Vail Resorts’ target opening dates

  • Mid-October – Keystone
  • Nov. 10 – Breckenridge, Vail Mountain
  • Nov. 17 – Heavenly, Northstar, Park City Mountain
  • Nov. 22 – Beaver Creek, Crested Butte
  • Nov. 23 – Whistler Blackcomb
  • Dec. 1 – Kirkwood, Stevens Pass

The tumultuous tale of Eagle County’s Bear 935 and its unfortunate fate

It has been a particularly busy year for bear encounters in Eagle County. Since Jan. 1, 2023, 91 bear-related calls have been made to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, compared to only four calls during the same time frame in 2022. While it might seem as though these calls indicate a dramatic increase in the number of bears in the area, most of the calls were tied to an individual bear that has been lingering in the West Vail area. West Vail residents, and much of Eagle County, know this bear by its ear tag number, 935.

Low bear year

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s current bear management plan, bear mortality in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valleys has been increasing over the last two decades.

“Our 10-year average of annual bear mortality is 118 bears per year. The three-year average when this plan was created (in 2022) was 135 bears per year,” said Layton Stutsman, the Edwards district wildlife manager. The bear mortality totals include every documented bear death, whether the cause was euthanasia due to direct conflict with humans, a car striking a bear, or another reason. The broader cause of these bear deaths is increased human-bear conflict due to population growth for both humans and bears, greater availability to bears of human food sources, and less successful natural food production.

In 2022, no bears were relocated from Eagle County, and just one bear was euthanized. The pattern has held so far in 2023: Colorado Parks and Wildlife has not yet relocated any bears from Eagle County, and no bears have been euthanized yet. 2023 is a low bear conflict year for the region, likely in part due to the wet spring. Bears have access to a plethora of natural food sources this year and do not need to rely on scavenging human food to feed themselves.

Black bears have an incredible sense of smell and that often draws them to homes where cooking odors and trash odors are irresistible.
Rick Spitzer/Courtesy photo

Eagle County also draws fewer bears than neighboring counties because the natural environment does not provide a great home for bears. Optimal bear habitat involves food sources such as grasses and sedges in the spring and early summer, berries in the mid-to-late summer, and oak brush in the late summer and early fall, all of which are much more often found in the Roaring Fork Valley than in Eagle County’s towns and metro districts.

“Ultimately, if and when we have bear conflicts within municipalities in Eagle County, a lot of the time they are conflicts that are not as severe in nature, they are not as frequent in nature (as in the Roaring Fork Valley), and so we’re able to resolve them,” said Matt Yamashita, the Area 8 Colorado Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager. “If we do get a spike in bear conflicts in Vail, it’s typically attributed to one or maybe two bears in town, and we are generally successful with some of our hazing efforts, or some of our public awareness and education efforts.”

Bear 935

Bear 935 earned its ear tags after being relocated near LEDE Reservoir in Gypsum on June 4 of this year, following human-related conflict in Kremmling. The hope in relocation is always that the bear will make a new home far from people. However, many relocated bears do not remain where they are placed.

“Often what we see with relocated bears is that one, either they have a high fidelity to their home range, so they return right back to where they were captured instead of staying where they were released, or two, they end up exhibiting the same behaviors elsewhere, in some other urban setting,” Stutsman said.

The second option is what has happened with 935. It made its way from Gypsum to West Vail, and has been paying visits to backyards and homes in the area.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife always puts two numbered ear tags on bears that are relocated, meaning that the bear has exhibited one-time behavior in conflict with humans, but not to the severity of an attack or a home invasion. The tags are a way for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to track the so-called “conflict bear.”

“In our state, through our management, if a bear has been involved in human conflict, it gets ear tags. It gets one in each ear, and then relocated. If it comes back into conflict again, then that second time is when it gets euthanized,” Yamashita said. “That comes with some caveats, in that, we try to be reasonable about what the degree of those conflicts are. If the bear was wandering through town and was sighted passing through a municipality, then generally we don’t constitute that as a true conflict.”

After becoming aware of Bear 935’s presence in West Vail, officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Vail Police Department made many attempts to encourage the bear to move out of town, a process called bear hazing. Officers deployed less-lethal shotgun rounds, pepperball guns, and tasers on the bear, all in the hopes that it would be deterred from coming into contact with humans, but the bear continued to return to West Vail.

Want the news to come to you? Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here:

As of Friday, July 28, Bear 935 was still alive, but at some point since arriving in Eagle County, it entered a home, and caused separate property damage. According to state policy, if Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers encounter the bear, they will be forced to euthanize it.

“For us, that’s a human health and safety-related issue. We’re not willing to take the chance that it’s not going to replicate the same behavior,” Yamashita said.

Bear 935 is not the only bear that has found its way into an Eagle County neighborhood this year. In June, a bear frequently sighted on porches and in backyards in East Vail was hit and killed by a car. In July, an EagleVail resident captured on video a bear without ear tags that entered his home.

This bear paid a visit to the home of EagleVail resident Alex Welch, and his 70-pound pitbull, Dex.
Alex Welch/Courtesy photo

How to protect bears

The story of Bear 935 can serve as a lesson for future bear sightings in Eagle County: The best way to keep bears safe is to actively keep them out of human communities. This involves trash management, communication with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and bear hazing.

“The decision to euthanize, or not euthanize, relocate, all of the above, that’s never based on the number of calls that come in. It’s always tied to the severity of the calls and the significance of the calls,” Yamashita said.

The earlier Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers know about a bear’s presence in a human community, the earlier they can intervene to encourage it to move on to a more appropriate place to live. The earlier a bear is hazed, by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and by the public, the greater the chance that it will leave the human community and never return.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers care about preserving bears’ lives, and quality of life. They prioritize hazing bears to keep them out of human-populated environments because bears survive best away from people.

“We don’t want to trap and ear tag and relocate a bear,” Yamashita said. “We don’t want to have to euthanize a bear that already has ear tags. If we can go through and haze a bear out of town, we will 100 percent of the time exercise every tool in the toolbox, in order to prevent having to take some of those other actions.”

Folk rockers Caamp come to the Ford Amphitheater July 17

Caamp, the popular folk band out of Columbus, Ohio, is set to play at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on July 17. The band’s music, which bass player Matt Vinson described as “rock and roll with acoustic instruments,” has reached millions of listeners. Their top song, “Vagabond,” has over 125 million streams on Spotify.

The concert is a part of the continuation of their Lavender Days tour, which celebrates and shares Caamp’s 2022 album “Lavender Days.” The band considers this to be their fourth album, and, according to Vinson, “Lavender Days” “directly shows (the band’s) musical maturity and personal maturity.” 

The name Caamp, initially stylized CAAMP, is, according to Vinson, a “reflection of the music and the lyrics.” Additionally, when the name was initially written in capital letters, “it kind of looked like mountains and teepees,” Vinson said.

The band’s style of music contains a complexity that enables its songs to encompass slow and mournful, upbeat and high energy, and everything in between. “Taylor (Meier, the lead singer and primary songwriter) has a lot to say lyrically, and our music should generally inspire hope for everybody. It’s supposed to make you feel good, or make you feel something, whether it’s looking forward to something or being current in the moment,” Vinson said.

With four albums, Caamp has the ability to curate each show to fit the audience and venue. “The more records that you put out, the more fun shows get, because there’s so many sonic palettes, and moments, as we call it—whether like a big electric party dancing moment, or an acoustic, grab your lover and really sit back and enjoy it type of deal. We’re very proud of the record (“Lavender Days”), and excited to play more of it this year,” Vinson said.

One of the features that will make the July 17 concert special for attendees is Caamp’s ever-changing performance. The band rarely puts on the same show twice, preferring to base their concerts on the energy of the crowd and the performance space. “We don’t really ever stick to a set. Sometimes we don’t write a set list at all, and call songs on the fly. It really just depends on the night. The venue will inform itself. The crowd that we get for a night—maybe we’ll cut some songs, maybe we’ll add some different ones—but we always have a lot of fun going up there, and deliberating between songs, and you never know what you’re going to get. It’s fun,” Vinson said.

Embrace those “in-between days” through music when Caamp comes to The Amp on July 17.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo

The band put out their eponymous first album, “Caamp,” in 2016, but its members have a much longer history of making music together. “Taylor (Meier) and Evan (Westfall) went to elementary school and high school together, and Tay started penning the songs in 2014, 2015, in Athens, Ohio,” Vinson said. Vinson, who was also playing music in Athens at the time, began playing shows with Meier and Westfall shortly after “Caamp” came out. When Vinson moved to Denver, Meier and Westfall followed, and in 2018 the trio put out the six-song EP “Boys,” which they consider to be their second album.

This will be Caamp’s first concert in Vail, but “Boys” solidified Colorado’s impact on the band. Vinson, himself, lived in Denver for three years, and made the occasional snowboarding trip up to Vail. “I would always get the Keystone/A-Basin pass when I lived there, so Vail was kind of a treat once a year,” Vinson said.

On the day of the show, Caamp band members might be found exploring Eagle County’s fairways or waterways. “We just recently started taking our golf clubs on tour. We like to fly fish. The world is your oyster on a show day. We have a little window when we need to sound check, and then you can do practically whatever you want else wise until showtime. We’ll be frolicking around in the mountains,” said Vinson.

Though the musical performance will be a surprise, one thing is guaranteed: Devoted Caamp fans and new listeners alike are in for a treat on July 17. “To the Vail residents and anybody traveling in, we’ll do our best to make it a night to remember. Bring your dancing shoes, because we’ll be curating the vibe for a party,” Vinson said.

Fourth of July fireworks are back in Eagle County. Here’s where to find them.

Onlookers enjoy Avon’s winter 2023 fireworks display, initially slated for last year’s Fourth of July celebrations but postponed due to fire risk.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

Fourth of July fireworks are making their return to Eagle County, after fireworks shows for the holiday were canceled for the plast two years due to high fire risk and related restrictions. Instead of fireworks, last year’s celebrations included drone and laser shows.


Avon Mayor Amy Phillips confirmed at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that barring extreme fire circumstances, fireworks will be present during the Salute to the USA celebration this year, after a two-year hiatus due to wildfire concerns. Last year, Avon lit its Fourth of July fireworks in January instead.

“At this point, my understanding is unless we have an active forest fire that our fire departments are dealing with, we will have fireworks,” Phillips said.

Salute to the USA will take place from 5 to 10:30 p.m. on July 3 in Harry A. Nottingham Park. In addition to fireworks, attendees can expect face painters, bounce houses, festival-style foods and live music performed by Los Lonely Boys.


The town of Vail is also preparing for its first Fourth of July fireworks show since 2020. The show was canceled in 2021 due to wildfire conditions, and last year was replaced with a drone show. Additional cancellations have happened due to extreme conditions in 2018, 2012, 2006, 2002 and 1998, said Kris Widlak, the town’s director of communications. 

This year, “conditions permitting,” the show will go on, Widlak said. 

The 20-minute fireworks display is scheduled to kick off at 9:45 p.m. over Vail Mountain with a patriotic soundtrack playing on KZYR 97.7. For a viewing area map, visit

Ahead of Independence Day, the town’s fire department will be tracking current weather and weather predictions, moisture levels in the town’s vegetation, fire activity in the surrounding area, and other fire indicators. As of Wednesday, June 28, the fire department is comfortable with the conditions, Widlak said. 

However, she added the disclaimer that: “This can change at any time.”

Should the show be canceled, Vail has a few contingencies in place. In the event of a rain cancellation, the display could merely be delayed till later in the week. However, previous cancellations due to fire danger have resulted in larger fireworks displays in the town’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Never ask “What should we do this weekend?” again. Get a weekly rundown of all the best happenings in the Vail Valley sent to your inbox every Friday. Sign up here:


Fireworks will return to Gypsum for the first time since 2019 during the town’s Independence Day Celebration at the Lundgren Amphitheater Field on July 3. The fireworks are set to launch starting at dusk.

The ’90s pop-rock tribute band JV3 will play and free hot dogs and popsicles will be given out while supplies last. No dogs or pets will be allowed. Outside alcohol is permitted at Lundgren Amphitheater for the event but is limited to beer and wine only. No glass of any kind is allowed. 

The event is free and parking is available in the lots around the Gypsum Rec Center, Gypsum Town Hall and Gypsum Library and Eagle Valley High School’s south lot.

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek will likely also put on a fireworks show during its Independence Day Celebration on July 4. The event will kick off at noon with bounce houses and waterslides, move to live music in the afternoon and finish with fireworks, which will start at 9:30 p.m. If the decision is made to cancel the fireworks, they will be replaced by a hot air balloon glow. 

Backcountry swimming holes: 5 alpine lakes near the Vail Valley

Tucked away in the high alpine valleys of towering, treeless peaks are a number of lakes pooling pristine water from fresh snowmelt. While the lakes remain cold all summer, they are at their warmest temperatures right now, providing not only a turning point for a unique mountain hike but also a tolerable and refreshing reward for reaching them.

“A lot of people think hiking in Colorado means 14ers, but hiking to the lakes can provide a completely different wilderness experience with maybe a little less exertion than going out and bagging peaks,” said Jon Kedrowski, local mountaineer and author of “Sleeping on Summits” and, most recently, “Sleeping and Skiing on Summits.”

With these hikes, you spend more time in a forest and among wildflowers and meadows than you might on a signature Colorado 14er.

“The lake destinations are a way to experience another side to Colorado’s wilderness and are great for families or for backpacking,” Kedrowski said. “Right now, you can jump in the water and it isn’t completely frigid. On a warm day when the sun is shining, it can be really refreshing.”

Scattered across a topographical map of the local High Country are a number of blue dots interrupting the tightly drawn lines that signify steep peaks. Those are the lakes, and they’re everywhere. With help from Kedrowski, who also has Ph.D. in environmental geology, we rounded up five lakes whose fresh waters are matched in beauty by the hike to them.


Missouri Lakes

Hike: About 7 miles round-trip, 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

Lakes: One swimming hole near 10,000 feet, three lakes residing near 11,000 feet.

Getting there: Follow U.S. Highway 24 from Minturn past Red Cliff. Turn right onto Homestake Road. Follow Homestake Road for nearly 9 miles. Turn right onto Missouri Lakes road. Follow signs to trailhead.

The steep hike to Missouri Lakes is 6 miles round-trip and follows a creek that cascades over waterfalls and winds through notch-like miniature canyons. At the base of one waterfall, a mere half-mile into the hike, is a popular swimming hole among campers on Homestake Road, given its proximity to the trailhead. However, the treasured string of lakes lies farther up the trail.

After 2 miles of steep grade and just before treeline, where the upper lakes reside, the trail levels out to sprawling meadows of wildflowers and green marshlands. While the lower portions of the trail can feel confined and heavily trafficked, it is here in the meadow that the trail exposes an expanse of Colorado sky that induces feelings of seclusion.

Apart from the swimming hole, the first lake you’ll encounter is a shallow, shimmering turquoise lake. It might be tempting to stop. Don’t. Push on, and within 10 more minutes of hiking, you’ll arrive at the main lake, one made dark blue by its center depth.

There are accessible swim spots near the trail and a variety of rocks to cautiously jump from. There is another small lake in a boulder field on the other side of Missouri Pass, which requires expert-level hiking and scrambling skills.

Piles of snow remain in the shadows of the peaks surrounding the upper and lower lakes signifying just how frigid the water is. Use caution, knowing the water can be between 45 degrees and 50 degrees and can steal your breath and shock your body.

“I was just up there and the wildflowers were pretty phenomenal,” Kedrowski said. “I love all the little waterfalls and gorges you see on the hike up, and the water wasn’t super cold.”


Booth Lake

Hike: About 9 miles round trip, 3,000-plus feet of elevation gain.

Lake: One lake and one significant waterfall.

Getting there: Booth Creek can be found by exiting Interstate 70 at the East Vail exit and heading west on North Frontage Road for about 1 mile. Turn onto Booth Falls Road and proceed to the parking area.

Booth Lake is the ultimate reward for those who can tolerate a difficult, steep hike with robust elevation gain. The clear waters of this lake sit idly on a shelf at 11,500 feet and broach the edge of its surroundings peaks on one end and its steep spillway on the other.

Getting there is both a battle of physical strength but also mental fortitude — many are tempted to turn around when the trail passes Booth Falls, a set of falls with the largest drop being nearly 60 feet tall. In the spring, the falls roar. By now, the falls have been reduced in flow. The trail beyond the falls grows ever more quiet as traffic thins with the trees before approaching the lake.

When the lake is full, it allows an infinity-like situation with views over the valley, Vail Mountain and Mount of the Holy Cross. You can also literally peer over civilization from the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area where Booth Lake sits, over Vail and into Holy Cross Wilderness area, both protected wilderness.

Kedrowski was also recently at Booth Lake with friends who were visiting from out of town. He said he was able to jump in and hang out in the water for maybe 20 or 30 seconds.

“Booth Lake is definitely more vertical,” Kedrowski said. “People hike to the falls, of course, but then you have to go an extra few miles. There is pretty scenery up there with the water, a little island in the middle of the lake and then the views.”

Piney Lake

Hike: This one is accessible by driving. Upper Piney Lake is a 14-mile hike.

Lakes: Two: Piney Lake accessible by driving and Upper Piney Lake by hiking.

Getting there: Follow Red Standstone Road in West Vail until it turns to dirt. Follow the dirt road and signage to the lake without diverting onto other road systems.

Piney Lake provides the alpine experience of a beautiful mountain lake to anyone who may not be able to make the hike to other such locations. Located just below 10,000 feet, the lake sits within the forest, attracting a myriad of wildlife. Moose sightings are commonplace.

The lake extends back to the base of the Gore Range and offers a majestic wilderness feel. However, you’re not far from luxury — Piney Lake is also the site of Piney River Ranch, a private ranch that offers lodging and a restaurant open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also trade in your swimming trunks for a canoe and paddle, your hiking shoes for horseback and enjoy the lake and surrounding mountains with ease.

Upper Piney Lake is a more daunting task, at 7 miles each direction. The trail begins at Piney Lake and continues for 3 miles through meadows and forest to a picturesque waterfall. The 4 miles beyond the falls grow more difficult, as the trail is not maintained and can be difficult to follow. Pay close attention and you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in Upper Piney Lake.


Lake Charles

and Mystic Island Lake

Hike: 8 miles for Lake Charles round-trip, 11 miles for Mystic Island Lake round-trip (2,160 feet of gain).

Lakes: Two: Lake Charles and Mystic Island Lake.

Getting there: The trailhead resides near the Fulford Cave Campground. Follow Brush Creek Road for 10 miles and then turn left onto East Brush Creek Road. Drive 6 miles and there will be a parking lot just past the Fulford Cave campground.

Like the temperature and color of Mystic Island Like, the setting will rob you of your breath. The hike begins downvalley near Eagle with a relatively moderate grade before ramping up just before reaching Lake Charles, the lake for which the trail is named.

Lake Charles is, in its own right, beautiful. The slightly lower elevation provides lush surroundings, with green grass and a pine forest running right up to the water’s edge. From the tail end of the lake, you can see another valley stretching farther back into the wilderness. This is the way to Mystic Island Lake.

The valley between the lakes is a marshland-type area that funnels you through the drainage of Mystic Island Lake. It can be wet and slippery but maintains a gradual gradient.

The arrival at Mystic Island Lake is awe-inspiring — this lake is surrounded on three sides in a dramatic, amphitheater-like fashion. The lake water is a dark blue and a reflection of Fool’s Peak — one of the surrounding mountains peaks — paints itself across the glass-like surface, ruffled only by the ripples of wind or someone brave enough to dive in.

“The color of all these lakes can be a little different,” Kedrowski said. “Some of them are near the outflow of glaciers or permanent snow. Some lakes are just pooling water that melted closer to spring. All that can change the color of the water.”

Lake Constantine

Hike: 8 miles round-trip with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Lakes: Three: Lake Constantine with trails leaving Lake Constantine for Upper and Lower Tuhare Lakes

Getting there: Drive out of Minturn toward Leadville for approximately 4 miles. Turn right on to Tigawon Road. Follow this dirt road for roughly 8 miles to the Fall Creek trailhead.

The Cross Creek drainage has a different geological feel than most other local hikes, making the journey to Lake Constantine as beautiful as the lake itself. The difference is in the rock — while most local hikes feature jagged, unfriendly rock, this area in the Holy Cross Wilderness is speckled with large slabs of marble-like smooth rock.

“The general term for it is granite batholith,” Kedrowski said. “Years ago, there was lava below the surface. That whole lava body solidified and got lifted up and the granite rock was formed. The lakes and the rock were finally formed as glaciers retreated.”

This is even different than, say, Booth Lake or Upper Piney Lake, which are located closer to the Gore Range. The rock there can be described as granite feldspar. This rock has a higher amount of quartz, making it rougher in character.

“A lot of it has to do with the speed at which the magma cooled,” Kedrowski said. “The hike into Lake Constantine along Cross Creek is a great unique hike.”

The trail itself is moderate, with only a little more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain in the 4 or so miles to the lake. It winds through dense forest broken up by the smooth rock and, eventually, a meadow that borders the lake surrounded by a thin veil of trees.

Just above the waterline, a pronounced treeline gives way to rolling mounds of the smooth rock striped with green grass. Over these rolling mounds are Upper and Lower Tuhare Lakes, which can be reached by hiking another mile.

“Lake Constantine is a little more elongated, which is a product of being set up in a glacial gorge,” Kedrowski said. “It provides a really good solitude experience. I’d recommend backpacking up there. Set up camp and spend a few days hiking around the area.”