Vail Today: Free Ski with a Ranger program offered at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Free Ski with a Ranger program offered at Beaver Creek

This land is your land.

This is not just a catch phrase or a song title, it's the terrain you ski and snowboard on as well. To help you learn more about the roles between the U.S. Forest Service and the resorts, Beaver Creek offers Ski with a Ranger on Mondays and Vail offers Ski with Smokey the Bear on Wednesdays.

These weekly programs are led by the naturalists from the Walking Mountains Science Center. We hopped in a session one snowy Monday afternoon at Beaver Creek to learn more along with about a dozen participants who took advantage of this free program.

Did you realize that there are 2.3 million acres of National Forest System lands on the White River National Forest? Or, that there are 11 ski areas that the U.S. Forest System administers within the White River National Forest? Did you know that not all animals migrate from the area and that those "resisters" like deer, weasels, gray jays all stick around during the colder months? The guides will even give you a few hints on how to tell the difference between a fir tree and a spruce tree.

"After 2015, I've noticed that a lot of people now realize that the terrain they're skiing or riding on is White River National Forest land. Through our "It's All Yours" campaign, more people are starting to hear the message and they are really enjoying their national forests," said Max Forgensi, mountain sports administrator with the U.S. Forest Service, Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District. "But it's still good to spread the word to those who don't know."

Vail Resorts has a long-standing partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Walking Mountains that delivers interpretation opportunities to their skiers and snowboarders. "Without Walking Mountains we wouldn't be able to have this program so frequently, so it's fantastic for everybody," Forgensi said.

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Whitney Leavell and his family from Houston, TX joined the tour to learn more about their surroundings. "I think anybody who comes up here is fascinated by more than just skiing and to have a guided tour with a professional, it's a great resource to take advantage of," Leavell said. "Nature's on full display here, it's wonderful."

To learn more about the tours on both Vail and Beaver Creek Mountain, please visit http://www.beavercreek.com and http://www.vail.com.