GoPro Mountain Games Guide: How to navigate the Vail event in three easy steps
Let’s face it: With 12-plus disciplines and more than 30 events (plus multiple daily giveaways, free concerts and more), attending the GoPro Mountain Games might feel a bit overwhelming. But never fear — even if this is your first or 15th time at the GoPro Mountain Games, we have a quick and easy guide to getting there and getting the most out of this event.
The beauty of the mountains is a big part of the Mountain Games. So before you hop in that car and drive, ask yourself: Is there a way I can walk, bike, e-bike or carpool to this event?
Once you make that call, your arrival is one-and-done. Park that car or bike and you’re good for the day. All of the venues are within walking distance from each other; you can also take the free Vail bus.
If you’re driving, here’s how you park: When you take Exit 176, you can park in either the Vail Village parking structure or Lionshead parking structure — both offer free parking all day.
Note: The Vail Village parking structure is big, blue and has several entries. It’s not the big stone building (Solaris) that also offers parking — that’s not free. Keep moving on to the Vail Village structure and you’ll be golden.
If the parking lots are full (which may happen), no worries — park on the Frontage Road and walk in or, again, utilize the wonderful and oh-so-convenient Vail transit system. Or bring your bike or scooter or whatever you enjoy.
“You can ride the bus, you can walk your dog, you can ride a bike on the path, you can kayak down, you can ride a scooter, but we ask everyone do their best to find a low-emission way to come on in and enjoy our beautiful mountains,” said Tom Boyd, director of public relations for the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the event each year.
The GoPro Mountain Games is a big event that stretches from Vail Village to Lionshead (and includes the Steep Creek Championships in Red Cliff on Thursday). The events, giveaways, tents and festivities can be a lot to take in.
Your best bet? Go one end to the other, Boyd said. Start in Lionshead and check out Go RVing Dog Town (the DockDogs competition is a must-see), head to Arrabelle to peruse the sponsor tents and then walk into Vail Village to see the L.L.Bean Gear Town, moving east.
Or, start at Nature Valley Adventure Village at Golden Peak and at work your way west.
No matter what side you start on, you can make your way to the other end throughout the day and check out the Zen Zone, the Pacifico Food & Beer Garden, Mountain Plaza and L.L.Bean Gear Town (a fan favorite for all its giveaways and sponsor activations).
For those of you who prefer to live footloose and plan-free, don’t worry — a plan is not required. However, for those who want to ensure that they make it to DockDogs, the intro to slackline class at Solaris in L.L.Bean Gear Town, and the IFSC World Climbing Cup at Mountain Plaza before heading to the Ford Amphitheater for a free concert … well, that’s a lot to take in and a plan is helpful.
“Just like our mountains, the Mountain Games are a wild, free-ranging thing,” Boyd said. “You can range all over town and just go with the flow, or you can pick and choose from a huge smorgasbord of events as you travel through town.”
At the end of the day? Easy — at 6:15 p.m. or so, head to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for three nights of free concerts as part of the GoPro Mountains of Music June 6-8.
So how do you find out where all those events are happening? Check out the map.
“We’ve got an awesome interactive map,” Boyd said. “It’s cellphone-friendly, it’s tablet-friendly, it’s laptop-friendly — it’s just friendly all around. It’s a key component to your navigational success at the GoPro Mountain Games.”
Not only will the map give information about events and share where the cerveza tent is located, but it will give the location for essentials, like water and sunscreen.
Because that’s the other part of “the plan”: Be prepared. Vail is subject to mountain weather which means that it could snow, rain, hail and be a beautiful bluebird day, all within a two-hour window. Apply sunscreen often, drink lots of water (dehydration is a real thing) and bring layers so that you’re comfortable.
About the dog. The Mountain Games is a dog-friendly event, but not all dogs are friendly. Before you bring your dog, cat, iguana, pot-bellied pig or parakeet, make sure that they enjoy being in crowds, can handle being on a leash all day and that you’re prepared for the heat and chaos. If they’re cool with it, so are we.
So that’s it. Get to Vail, get to your starting point and get going. It’s going to be an amazing weekend.