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Mainstream, how to get all wet and stay out of a boat

Wren Wertin
Vail CO, Colorado
Photography by Bret HartmanConnor Peck, 15, hangs out with, from left, his sisters Kelsey, 17, and Madelyn, 13, at a swimming hole in Wolcott.
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Vail’s been known to have a run of summertime heat. And though mountain streams are shockingly cold for those used to low-land lakes, they’re irresistible when the sun is sky high. The rivers rush with momentum in the early season, beckoning kayakers inside. But as the snow melt dwindles and the days stretch out, the rivers mellow, too. Of course they can be dangerous year-round, so you have to use common sense. But check out these user-friendly options when you’re looking for a way to get wet ” and you don’t want to get in a boat to do so.

Gore Creek in front of Ford

Amphitheater, Vail Village.



After wandering around Ford Park’s sculpture garden and picnicking on the lawn, head down the bank and into the shallow water. It’s clear and cold ” the perfect pick-me-up for cranky kids or tired feet. Stop by the Nature Center on your way out, or head into the Amphitheater for a sunset concert.

Gore Creek at the International Bridge, Vail Village.



In early summer, Gore Creek belongs to kayakers. The whitewater park was designed for boats. But as July cedes to August, the creek eases into a wader’s haven. After eating lunch at one of the several restaurants which overlook the creek ” Sapphire, Blu’s or Up the Creek ” ditch your shoes and cool off.

Beaver Creek below the Covered Bridge, Beaver Creek.

The rocks surrounding this area of Beaver Creek call out with voices only kids can hear. They demand exploration and adventure. Parents can watch close by, or take a hands-off stance and stay up on the bridge. After playing in the river, run over to the fountain near the ice rink and start all over again.



Eagle River at the Wolcott Campground, Wolcott.

Just west of the Wolcott Yacht Club on Hwy. 6 is a camping and parking area. Pull in, head downhill and cross the river on the railroad tracks. Immediately after the bridge, find your way down to the water and jump right in. This isn’t wading ” it’s full immersion, and dogs love it. There are plenty of sticks to be retrieved, and after you’ve had your fill of the water climb onto one of the sun-warmed rocks and dry off. Head back to the Yacht Club for sustenance.

Eagle River at the fairgrounds, Eagle.

If you find yourself in Eagle, drive out to the fairgrounds where there’s plenty of parking. Tall trees line the river bank, so there’s more than one way to cool off. Eagle is family-land, so there’s usually kids there. After romping in the water, check out Moe’s Original BBQ on the way back.


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