Vail, CO is known for its upscale amenities and massive ski resort, which is the largest in the state. The town is located on both sides of I-70, about two hours west of Denver in Eagle County.
The Austrian-modeled ski villages sit at an elevation of 8,150 ft and have a lot of charm. There are two villages: Vail Village and Lionshead Village. They are only a 15-minute walk apart and have a combined population of 5,377 as of 2020.
The Vail Valley is surrounded by nature and offers so much to do and see year-round. Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, and snow tubing are available in the winter. When the weather warms up, camping, rafting, hiking, and fishing are all extremely popular activities.
There are several 4×4 trails around town, which are a great way to take in the beautiful landscape. There are family-friendly festivals filled with music, food, and fun during all parts of the year.
Pete Siebert and Earl Eaton were the driving force behind the development of Vail in the mid 20th century. Both men returned from serving in World War II, and quickly became part of the up-and-coming ski resort scene. They decided Vail Mountain would be the perfect spot for a new resort after summiting it together in 1957.
After initial investments and obtaining a permit for the land from the United States Forest Service, they began construction in 1962. They didn’t have instant success, but slowly they grew in size until finally in 1989, Vail was declared the largest ski area in North America.
A decade later, Vail purchased Breckenridge and Keystone, expanding their operation even further. Since the 1990s, they have been continuously updating facilities, chairlifts, and ski runs to create a world-class skiing experience. They are now the fourth largest ski area.
Vail Ski Resort – With over 5,000 acres to ski on, there’s always a new run or powder stash to find. It’s the largest ski resort in the state. Biking and hiking are popular on the mountain in the summer, as well as the thrilling Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster.
Vail Village – The charming Disney World-like village is a picturesque place to meander. Window shop, check out the stunning architecture, and grab a patio table for an afternoon glass of your choice. Continue your tour over to Lionshead Village. Between the two of them, there are hundreds of shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Read about the top things to do in Vail.
- Traverse across Vail’s epic back bowls on the Two Elk Trail. With two trailheads to start from, an East and West, this is one of the best mountain biking trails in Eagle County. It’s also a great hiking trail, though a bit long at 11.8 miles.
- Ride the paved 9-mile Vail Pass Bike Path from near the summit of Vail Pass down to Copper Mountain.
- Between Minturn and Red Cliff, take County Rd 707 to Halfmoon Campground or primitive car camp anywhere on that road. It’s best to have a high clearance vehicle as the road can be bumpy.
- Hornsilver Campground is off of US 24 south of Vail just past Red Cliff.
- Just after Hornsilver CG take a right on Homestake Rd to Gold Park Campground or primitive car camp anywhere along that smooth road. It’s ten miles back to the reservoir.
- If you continue south on Hwy 24 past Hornsilver, you’ll pass Yoder Gulch Rd. Take a right and pull over at any spot on that road.
- Keep going on Hwy 24 and you’ll hit Camp Hale Memorial Campground just before Tennessee Pass.
- There’s also primitive camping in the Red and White Mountain wilderness north of Vail. Take exit 173 onto North Frontage Rd. At the traffic circle, stay on N Frontage Rd. Turn left onto Davos Trail and a quick right on Cortina Ln. Follow that for 0.5 miles then take a slight right onto Buffehr. Follow that into the woods where camping is everywhere.
- Read about the camping near Vail, Avon, and Eagle.
- Gore Creek begins high above the town in Vail Pass and goes west past town. Although it’s not a big river, it does hold big fish.
- Eagle River flows through Minturn, south of town. There you’ll find bass, crappie, Northern pike, and walleye depending on the season.
- For an easier day, stroll through the two lovely interconnected villages in Vail.
- In the summer, ride the chair lift up, and hike along the peaks of the ski resort, such as Berrypicker Trail.
- Upper Piney River Falls is a popular 6 mile out and back trail with views of the Gore range and plenty of aspen trees.
- Read about the hiking trails near Vail.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square – This hotel might have the best location in town, situated right at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Also features a huge spa, tavern, and apres-ski deck.
Four Seasons Resort Vail – A luxury 5-star accommodation with an award-winning spa, heated pool, and stone fireplaces in every room.
The Sebastian – Located in the heart of Vail Village, this unique boutique hotel is a foodie’s dream. Their on-site restaurant Leonara serves up local, sustainable alpine-inspired dishes. If you’re just in the mood for a craft cocktail, Frost Bar has you covered.
Sonnenalp Hotel – Choose from gorgeous views of Vail Village or Gore Creek in this European-style hotel. There is also a neighboring hotel under the same affiliation with even more amenities for guests to enjoy.
The Hythe – Dubbed as a “luxurious alpine hideaway”, The Hythe combines an atmosphere of wellness and adventure. Most notably they offer a variety of “experiences” to guests, including rock climbing, helicopter ski tours, and mushroom foray.
The George – This basement bar combines the charm and comfort of an English pub with the extravagance you’ll find everywhere in Vail. You can play a game of pool during happy hour while you order your King Crab legs from the gourmet kitchen.
Almresi Vail – Cozy spot serving up European-inspired dishes in a rustic cottage-inspired setting.
Joe’s Famous Deli – The perfect stop on your way to the slopes to pick up a classic hoagie, baked goods, and more.
Read about the best bars in Vail.
Apr – Taste of Vail – Premiere upscale food and wine with all the flair of Vail, held in early April.
Jun – GoPro Mountain Games – High-intensity celebration of sports, arts, and music.
Jun-Aug – Bravo! Vail Music Festival – The best orchestras perform at various locations in the Vail Valley throughout the summer from late June to early August.
Jul-Aug – Vail Dance Festival – Witness eleven days of professional dance in the mountains held from late July to early August.
Aug – Kid’s Adventure Games – The largest adventure race for kids held in Vail and Fruita featuring obstacles such as a giant slip n’ slide, mountain biking, and ziplines.
Sep – Vail Film Festival – Annual 4-day film event showcasing independent films and screenplays.
Sep – Gourmet on Gore – A 3-day open-air festival in Vail Village centered around good food, wine, beer, and music.
Dec – Vail Snow Days – Free music concert weekend to kick off the ski season in mid-December.
Read about the best events in Vail.
Activities near Vail
Cross Country Skiing:
- Vail Valley Escape Room (10mi)
- Camp Hale (21mi)
- Eagle River
- Eagles Nest Wilderness
- Holy Cross Wilderness
- White River National Forest
- Gilman (13mi)
- Fremont Pass (30mi)
- Shrine Pass (17mi)
- Tennessee Pass (33mi)
- Top of the Rockies Byway (8mi)
- Vail Pass (14mi)
- Beaver Creek Ski Resort (13mi)
- Copper Mountain Ski Resort (20mi)
- Ski Cooper (29mi)
- Vail Powder Guides (14mi)
- Vail Ski Resort (<1mi)
- Vail Tubing Hill (<1mi)
- Roger’s Snowbike Rentals (37mi)
- Avon (10mi)
- Beaver Creek (11mi)
- Breckenridge (38mi)
- Copper Mountain (20mi)
- Dillon (32mi)
- Dotsero (42mi)
- Eagle (30mi)
- Eagle-Vail (8mi)
- Edwards (14mi)
- Frisco (26mi)
- Glenwood Springs (60mi)
- Gypsum (37mi)
- Keystone (38mi)
- Minturn (8mi)
- Red Cliff (16mi)
- Silverthorne (30mi)
- Wolcott (20mi)
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