Children’s paths in Vail |

Children’s paths in Vail

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” There’s plenty of nature for kids to touch, feel and experience at America’s highest botanical garden.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, announces the creation of the Back to Nature Trail, a network of primitive footpaths, features and activities in the natural riparian environment along the banks of Gore Creek, in Vail’s Ford Park. The area provides a safe and quiet place for children to play freely and flex their youthful imaginations.

“We now have a place at the gardens where kids can actually touch nature, unleash their creativity and build things out of their imagination,” said Nicola Ripley, director of horticulture at the Gardens. “The Back to Nature Trail is the type of place kids can go to when they are told by their parents to go outside and play. It’s a safe and wondrous place to explore in a natural mountain setting.”

The concept is inspired by “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” by Richard Louv, who has started a movement of sorts advocating the benefits Mother Nature can have on children. In the book, Louv directly links a profound lack of nature in the lives of today’s “wired generation” to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders and depression.

“We know from our own life experience that children do need to spend time in nature and the outdoors for healthy physical, mental and emotional development,” says Ann Kurronen, executive director of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Open dawn to dusk along the banks of Gore Creek, the Back to Nature Trail is located between The Schoolhouse Gift Shop and Museum and the covered bridge at Manor Vail.

In addition to a picnic area with tables, there are several stations at which gardens staff members provide natural objects and props that promote sensory enrichment and appreciation of the great outdoors.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, at 8,250 feet above sea level in Vail’s Ford Park, is the highest botanical garden in the United States, and perhaps the world, providing free access to an estimated 100,000 visitors annually.

A nonprofit organization for which operations and programs are funded entirely through donors, its mission is to inspire passion for plants in high-altitude communities through beautification, conservation, education and research programs.

For more information, call 970-476-0103 or visit

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