Sustainable Vail: Alternative options for driving to the slopes this winter
With the ski season underway, travelers will be making their way to the High Country to take their first turns of the season. But keeping the snow we all love reliably on the slopes means doing our part to protect our state and mountains from the impacts of climate change.
Transportation related emissions make up 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Whether traveling to Vail for the day from the Front Range or flying into Denver International Airport for a weeklong visit, there are several ways that visitors can quickly and conveniently navigate I-70 while mitigating their impact on the environment.
We all play a role in lessening our impact on I-70 congestion. I’ve provided some tips below that visitors can keep in mind when planning their visit to Vail, but locals also can adapt these tips to remember there are easy ways to get around the valley that allow for skipping highway traffic and the parking structure.
There is no easier time to carpool to the mountains. From ride sharing apps to elevated bus services, Front Range skiers and snowboarders have never had so many options to get to Vail in style.
In big cities, apps such as Moovit and Wave Carpool are well known; however, in Colorado, new options recently emerged as Treadshare and Caravan are launching to allows skiers and snowboarders to share the ride from the Front Range to your favorite ski resort. The new carpooling apps allow travelers to upload their upcoming trips into the system or find other travelers who would pay a fee to join them for the ride to and from — or within — the mountains.
Bustang, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s statewide bus service, picks up at several locations in the Front Range and services mountain towns up and down the I-70 corridor, including Vail. This winter, the Bustang is adding an extra bus each way. The Bustang typically leaves Denver’s Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrives in Vail at 9:20 a.m. and then returns to Denver at 3:45 p.m. or 7:10 p.m., which allows for maximum time on the slopes.
On weekends and holidays, additional transit service will be provided through CDOT’s Pegasus program. Pegasus combined with Bustang’s West Line provides hourly service between Avon and Denver Union Station with intermediate stops in Vail, Frisco and the Federal Center in Lakewood. Bustang riders can relax and enjoy free Wi-Fi, take a nap or just soak in the view on their two-hour drive to Vail.
Travelers coming from DIA have several ride share options, including Uber Ski, Epic Mountain Express, Peak 1 Express, Blue Sky Limo and Colorado Airport Express. A simple Google search uncovers several options in an array of price ranges that will get travelers to Vail.
Free transportation in Vail
Travelers don’t need a car when visiting Vail. The town of Vail offers one of the largest free year-round bus service in the country. Visitors can travel throughout Vail (East Vail to West Vail) on the town’s convenient transportation service. And, if visitors want to travel downvalley, Eagle County offers an extensive transportation system from Vail to the rest of the valley via ECO Transit. The convenient service is available for a small fee, depending on the bus line, and leaves regularly from the Vail Transportation Center in Vail Village.
If opting to drive to Vail, consider driving an electric vehicle. Hertz recently announced its intent to purchase the largest EV rental fleet in North America. And, many car companies are making it easier and easier to choose electric with rebates and special offers. When driving an EV to Vail, the destination offers more than 30 public charging ports and more than 20 hotels offer options for plugging in. Vail offers an array of public charging ports ranging from Level 2 options to four DC fast charging stations in the Lionshead parking structure.
Collectively, visitors and locals can follow these easy tips when deciding the best way to get to the slopes this winter.
Kristen Bertuglia is the Eenvironmental sustainability director for the town of Vail. The Discover Vail monthly sustainability column is a project of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.