Respect the

Vail Valley

Respect the Vail Valley

There is so much natural beauty here in the Vail Valley, and we want you to enjoy it with us. Here are some tips to enjoy the great outdoors safely, year-round. Watch the videos below to be inspired and learn how you can respect the Vail Valley. Together we can keep this amazing place pristine for generations to come and minimize our impact on critical natural habitats for our local wildlife. Respecting the wildlife, fellow recreators, and those caring for our public lands, ensures access to these beautiful experiences for years to come!

Respect the Adventure

With abundant recreational opportunities, the natural beauty and activities associated with the Vail Valley attract thousands of visitors to the valley each year. The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare. Plan ahead to protect yourself, others and the environment.

  • Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Always check the weather and trail conditions before you head out on your adventure. Visit Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance for current trail conditions.
  • Colorado receives 300 days of sun each year which means it is best to sunscreen up.
  • Avoid cotton and wear moisture-wicking and quick-dry layers instead.
  • Higher altitudes can be stressful for the body. Be sure to stay plenty hydrated and bring your own reusable water bottle. Even if you are fit, you can still feel the effects of altitude sickness if you push yourself too hard too quickly. Resting is often the most effective remedy for altitude sickness.
  • Tell others where you are going, what route you are going to take, and when you plan to be back.
  • Driving during severe winter weather conditions can be demanding. The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all – if you can avoid it. Visit the Colorado Department of Transportation site for real-time travel alerts, including travel warnings and pass-closure alerts.

Respect the Wild

The Vail Valley’s diverse ecosystems support a wide array of wildlife. When you are out on the trails, you might be lucky enough to see elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, foxes, and maybe even a beaver or bear. Knowing how to respect our wildlife ensures both your safety and the well-being of the animals.

  • Watch from a distance: always observe wildlife from a safe distance.
  • Interact responsibly: do not feed, touch, or attempt to move wildlife. Trails are closed to protect critical winter habitat and migratory & feeding routes. Violation of seasonal trail closures can keep wildlife from precious resources and resting spaces.
  • Leave no trace: pack out all trash, food and pet waste.
  • Do not disturb: avoid wildlife during sensitive times, especially in the winter when food is scarce and spring when lots of animals are giving birth. Human disturbances can exacerbate loss of body weight, reduce reproductive success, and decrease survivability of the fawns and calves.
  • Take the Respect the Wild pledge.

Respect the Trail

Trails connect you with the amazing outdoors! In the Vail Valley alone we have over 1,000 miles of trails and more than 1.3 million acres of public lands. Whether you are a hiker, mountain biker, or equestrian user understanding a few, simple guidelines about using and sharing the trails makes the experience even better.


  • Stay on trails and heed the signs and closures.
  • Follow the right-of-way rules (bikers yield to hikers, everyone yields to horses & wheelchairs, downhill users yield to uphill users).
  • Take only photos and leave only footprints.
  • Hiking with a dog? Determine if the trail you are planning to hike allows dogs, and if so, keep your dog on the trail with you (and follow the leash law if there is one in place). Be sure to pick up and pack out the doggy doo. Good trail manners apply to our four-legged companions too!
  • Visit Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance for current trail conditions.

Respect the Backcountry

The Vail Valley is home to thousands of scenic miles in the White River National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and state park lands so get outside and enjoy them! Scale mountain tops, sleep under the stars, and experience the wilderness – just please do so safely.

  • Check the forecast before you leave as the weather can change very quickly.
  • Adventure with a buddy and always tell someone where you’re going.
  • Carry a day pack full of essentials such as a first aid kit, compass, flashlight, clothing layers, and sufficient water and food.
  • Pack out what you pack in – that includes food waste and wrappers, cans and bottles, and human and pet waste too.

The Vail Valley has camping sites galore so be sure to camp in a designated or existing camp site. And don’t forget to be careful with fire!

  • Always check the local fire restrictions and er on the side of caution. Avoid open flames and do not smoke outside during a fire ban.
  • Never leave your fire unattended.
  • Put your fire out with water until it’s cool to the touch. Embers buried deep within the pile have a tendency to reignite later.

The Respect the Vail Valley campaign is brought to you in partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance and Leave No Trace and was made possible through a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office.

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Digital Visitor's Guide

Whether you are a first-time guest or regular visitor, we have resources to help you plan your trip. Visit Vail Valley is the official digital visitor’s guide to the Vail Valley.

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