The Vail Valley’s Favorite Activities
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Though the weather is warmer, Colorado summers bring varied weather conditions at higher elevation. Be sure to pack water, sunscreen, a raincoat and do not wear cotton. Wear clothing that can wick away moisture.
There’s no shortage of activities to keep everyone engaged, excited and happy while playing in the mountain air. Whether swallowing fear and flying over a gorge via a zipline or taking a few laps through your favorite powder stash, the Vail Valley is one big playground.
Needing nothing more than some solid footwear and an idea of where to go, hiking is an easy pursuit to enjoy. From super steep trails that promise waterfalls and vistas, to mellower treks that roll through meadows and glades. If you want to get a jumpstart on elevation, hop on the gondola or chairlift at Vail or Beaver Creek, and start mid-mountain.
Fly-fishing can be a year-round activity in the mountains. Learn to fly-fish — or perfect your cast — through outfitters like Gore Creek Fly Fisherman, Nova Guides, Piney River Ranch or Sage Outdoor Adventures. Wade through the crisp water, or book a float trip to enjoy the sparkling water against a clear blue sky and snow-capped mountains. Access to some of the best fishing holes in the Gore Creek, Eagle River, Brush Creek and Colorado River can be tricky, so we highly recommend the experts who keep track of the fish on a daily basis.
Winter or summer, spring or fall, this is one sport that spans them all. Paved trails along the Eagle River provide smooth pedaling for people of all ages and abilities, while dirt trails winding down mountainsides range from beginner to advanced. In fall, golden aspens provide a particularly stunning backdrop for riding, while winter white calls for fat biking. Many cross-country centers, such as Vail Golf Course and Eagle Ranch Golf Course, allow these beefed-up version of mountain bikes. Rent bikes at such shops as Venture Sports, Base Mountain Sports, Charter Sports and Vail or Beaver Creek Sports.
Epic Discovery/Adventure Ridge
Vail Mountain has built the ultimate play adventure area at Eagle’s Nest. During the snowy months, it’s called Adventure Ridge, and includes a snowmobile track, snow tubing and ski biking. The summer months bring Epic Discovery, which includes zip lines, alpine coaster, bungee trampolines and several ropes courses.
When snow blankets the ground, take in the scenery while getting a cardio workout by snowshoeing. Rent gear at the Vail Nordic Center or the Beaver Creek Nordic Center. Explore the world with a naturalist at Walking Mountains Nature Discovery Center at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola.
Horseback Riding & Sleigh Rides
Slightly down valley, Bearcat Stables offers a bit of the Wild West in a safe environment. Horseback rides are based out of the Bearden Homestead and are ideal for the novice rider, with gentle terrain and small groups. They also offer horseback-riding camps and multi-day adventures from Vail to Aspen, as well as hunt camps. Come winter, snuggle under a blanket and be transported via a horse-drawn sleigh through time and snow for dinner at the fully restored Bearden Cabin, a unique and historical experience.
Head west and discover what Glenwood Springs has to offer. Iron Mountain Hot Springs sits at the base of the Colorado River with views of Red Mountain and Mount Sopris, With 16 natural iron-rich pools in varying temperatures from 99 degrees to 108 degrees, it’s an amazing spot to relax, detox and let your worries (and aches) melt away. Or for a more thrilling time, check out Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, billed as America’s only mountain top theme park. From the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster to cave tours, it’s a one-of-a-kind place.
Vail Recreation District
The Vail Recreation District has been providing events and activities for families for decades. From summer sports camps to daily drop-in activities, the rec district has you covered. Check out the Imagination Station in Lionshead for hands-on experiments for children. Also offered here are paint-your-own pottery and a smattering of classes.
Or head to the Vail Golf Course: during the summer months, play the undulating greens under the watchful eye of Gore Range. In winter, rent a fat bike or try the Nordic and snowshoe trails.
Sage Outdoor Adventures shows you exactly what powering through the high country involves with its snowmobile tours. Nova Guides is also known for its seemingly endless miles of 360-degree panoramic views with its Top of the Rockies tour, which includes views of the Continental Divide and begins in historic Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Army Division trained for World War II. Either way, you can zoom up to elevations of over 12,000 feet, where you just might feel dizzy from the thin air — and adrenaline.
Ice skating at the base of Vail or Beaver Creek mountains looks, and feels, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting — only with more snazzy village appeal, and pizza, fire pits and hot drinks to warm up the chilly afternoon or evening. Both rinks rent hockey and figure skates for a festive evening on ice.
Stand Up Paddle Board or Kayak
If you’re ready to navigate the water (lake or river) yourself, rent a SUP (stand up paddle board) or kayak. Beginners may want to get their sea legs on the stiller, gentler yet still lovely Nottingham Lake in Avon. Or sign up for a class through a local gym. Once you feel comfortable kayaking or SUPing on the lake, ask your rental agency where the calmest stretch of river lies and head on out.
Rafting and Tubing
Fast and furious, or go-with-the flow: you decide. Sage Outdoor Adventures can help you navigate the rivers. Turtle Tubing is an excellent option for families and groups looking for an affordable, fun float trip.
Beaver Creek, Eagle Ranch, EagleVail, Gypsum Creek, Red Sky Ranch, Sonnenalp, Vail Golf Club, Cordillera — each one provides its own unique perspective on greens, tees, traps and topography. Golfing in the Vail Valley offers unique opportunities to spot wildlife — big and small — while experiencing how high elevation makes your ball go farther.
Set a course for adventure, plan ahead, and don’t leave any stone unturned while planning your play in Eagle County. It’s the perfect place to mix a little action with adventure and a side of awe-inspiring views.
Landscaping and construction, while honorable professions, could not contain Cole Greenfield’s dreams. He wanted to be a worldwide ecotourism guide based in Iceland.