Shred city: 5 world class outdoor recreation amenities built in the Vail area in the last 5 years
The upper portion of the Golden Peak Competition Arena opened for the season Nov. 20, allowing ski racers a dedicated training area to practice in Vail.
When the competition arena has enough snow to allow ski racers top-to-bottom access, it’s one of the few venues in the country offering a full-length downhill track that ends in a village near an interstate.
The completion of the Golden Peak Competition Arena required special approval from the U.S. Forest Service and the construction of a new lift allowing ski racers access to a higher part of the slope at Golden Peak. It opened in 2019, one of several new World Class recreational amenities in the Eagle County area. Here are a few others:
Whitewater park in Eagle
One thing Eagle County always lacked was a place to surf.
In 2016, voters in Eagle approved a new tax to construct the Eagle River Park, an idea originally envisioned on a bar napkin at Bonfire Brewery.
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Rapid blocks were installed in the Eagle River creating features known as “holes” in the whitewater world. Those features, when water conditions are right, can now be surfed by board riders or used as places for freestyle kayakers to practice tricks.
An improved park setting was constructed around the features offering bathrooms, changing rooms, a fire pit, seating and a judges’ platform for competitions.
Construction took place in 2018 and the park opened in 2019.
Bike park in Minturn
While mountain biking is among the top recreational activities in Eagle County, the mountain biking trails themselves aren’t necessarily a good practice arena for banked turns and jumps.
Seeking to build proper dirt jumps and kids skills area, the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance started raising money for the Minturn Bike Park in 2019.
The group was able to raise $50,000 from the community, $47,000 from the town of Minturn and also committed $75,000 of its own reserve funds to complete the project. Construction began in 2020 and the first phase opened later that summer.
The bike park also included a parking area, restrooms, shed with tool/equipment storage, and a large flagstone paver gathering area with picnic tables built by Gallegos Corporation.
The park also contains the county’s only dual slalom mountain bike racing course, which was completed last year and hosted its first competition in 2022 at the GoPro Mountain Games.
Motocross track in Gypsum
There are a lot of trails on the Western Slope of Colorado, and a lot of places for dirt bikers to ride, but not a lot of motocross tracks.
Those are the words of pro rider Sam Greenawalt, who discovered the Dry Lake Motocross Track in Gypsum in 2021 on his way to compete in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in Lakewood.
Greenawalt was surprised to see how complete of a setup was being offered to motocross riders in Gypsum.
“This place has it all,” Greenawalt said. “It’s got big jumps, little jumps, whoops, rollers, tight corners, big wide-open corners, you want a good variety of everything and this place has it, I’m impressed.”
After a decades-long search for a place to build a track in Eagle County, the late Paul Miller of Rocky Mountain Sport Riders helped complete a deal to lease the Dry Lake property from Eagle County Open Space, and the track opened in 2018. Miller was battling brain cancer at the time, and died less than a year later.
In 2021, the Dry Lake Motocross Track hosted a Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit race, the first big event on the Dry Lake open space.
Climbing gym in Eagle
One thing Eagle County always lacked, until a few years ago, was a large indoor climbing facility.
Vail has a small indoor setup at the Vail Athletic Club, and the Avon Recreation Center also has a small indoor setup, but neither have the extra tall climbing walls and large amount of space required to host climbing events.
Locals Larry Moore, Rick Patriacca and Dave Dantas knew the area had the climbing demand for such a space, but finding one was difficult. After years of searching, Dantas and Patriacca located and built the facility in Eagle, while Moore provided the concept.
Eagle Climbing + Fitness opened in 2018, a 10,500 square-foot space with 8,500 square feet dedicated to climbing.
The smallest space for climbing, an area known as the jungle gym where kids as young as three can come and take lessons, was bigger than the space the Moore’s climbing team used to occupy in their former training location in Vail.
Today Eagle Climbing + Fitness hosts high school and college teams from across the state and the region in climbing competitions and provides a space for locals looking to climb indoors. The space can host hundreds without feeling cramped.