Summers are what keep locals in Vail |

Summers are what keep locals in Vail

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Summer DT 6-28-10

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Anyone who has lived in the valley for even a few months knows the saying that people move here for the winters and stay for the summers.

The Vail area typically draws people in with its skiing and snowboarding, and soon after the ski season ends people start to realize the area has a lot more to offer than just snowsports.

Heather Schultz, owner of the Holy Toledo clothing store in Minturn, came to the valley from Wisconsin with the intention of staying for a couple of ski seasons. That was 24 years ago.

She stayed longer because of the allure of the mountains, she said.

“(The mountains) get in your blood,” Schultz said. “I miss the water, but the mountains won.”

While Colorado lacks large bodies of water, there are plenty of water sports around that keep locals loving every minute of the summertime. From kayaking to rafting to fly-fishing, local rivers and creeks offer plenty to do once the ski resorts shut down.

David Walters, who moved to the valley last October, said he can see why those who move here only for a winter end up staying.

“I’m a big fly-fisherman,” Walters said. “Vail has a lot of good areas to fish, and the weather is good.”

Jessica Mason, of Edwards, was working an engineering job in Baltimore when she decided to quit and move to the valley. She had always wanted to learn how to ski, and finally did it at the age of 25.

Now, six years later, Mason is still here and she loves to ski. What kept her here year-round, though, was a raft guiding job she picked up that first summer she lived here- and now she’s a member of the U.S. Women’s Whitewater Rafting Team.

The weather and variety in outdoor sports is enough to convince most people to stay, she said.

“The weather here is beautiful,” Mason said. “You can do a different activity three times in a day here in the summer. I call it a three-sport day.”

That’s exactly what the town of Vail and Vail Resorts is trying to do through its new joint summer marketing campaigns sponsored by the Vail Local Marketing District. The campaign tries to capture guests by offering them an array of passions to pursue here.

Sharing the summer secret

The new summer website tries to engage visitors by giving them something to be “in pursuit of,” like an ideal farmer’s market, public art that delights or running camps that rock.

It used to be that locals wanted to keep summer’s beautiful weather and recreational opportunities for themselves, said Beth Slifer, chair of the Vail Local Marketing District’s Advisory Committee. But the times are changing, she said.

“We’ve discovered in order to have a year-round economy, it’s time to share the secret,” Slifer said. “Vail has always had the assets that, in the past, we have failed to package for the summer.”

The weather is a big reason summers are so attractive, locals say. The sun seems to always shine, and the dry air makes hot days seem a lot less hot – especially for those who moved here from humid climates.

“I’m from the Midwest, so I dig no mosquitos and no humidity,” said Pat Barrett, of West Vail.

Barrett moved to Vail about four and a half years ago to be a ski instructor – he was only planning on staying for one winter season.

The saying that people here stay for the summers is definitely true, he said.

“There’s such a variety of stuff to do in the summer,” Barrett said.

The best part about the valley is that there’s always something exciting to look forward to, Barrett said. As the summer season ends, he knows ski season will be here soon. The same goes for the end of the ski season – summer is just around the corner.

“It’s hard to leave,” Barrett said.

Slifer said the climate is one of Vail’s best summer assets. There are always blue skies, bringing with them something to do all day, every day.

“The outdoor recreation is just spectacular,” she said. “It’s truly endless.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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