Nature Lover

LOVERS & PROTECTORS OF MOTHER NATURE

Find peace and joy in the serenity of the Rocky Mountains. When planning a trip to the Vail Valley, it’s hard to know the top places to visit. This section compiles a lot of the local’s favorite hikes, vistas and experiences. Pick any activity and you will find yourself immersed in jaw-dropping landscapes and beauty.

Protecting our environment: During your stay, remember to practice Leave No Trace principles. Vail has become a sustainable destination, so remember to pack out your trash, avoid overcrowded hiking trails and biking trails, and please avoid causing wildfires with open flames and smoking.

WINTER WONDERLAND

Though skiing and snowboarding are the lifeblood of the valley, there’s more to do on the snow. Try a moonlight snowshoe tour with Walking Mountains Science Center. Naturalists will guide you on a captivating journey into the night; you’ll also learn about the habits of nocturnal animals along the way.

Or, in the light of the day, head over to the Vail Golf Club and Nordic Center. During the summer months the golf course is one of the more picturesque in the Valley, offering views of the Gore Range. But during the winter, it becomes a wonderland for cross-country and skate skiers, snowshoers and even snow-bikers – and they rent all the gear too.

SCENIC LAKES

Piney Lake
If you want to get off the beaten path, there’s no more magical spot than Piney River Ranch. Just 12 miles north of Vail Village (about a 45-minute drive, sometimes replete with moose sightings), it’s a popular spot for canoeing and stand up paddleboarding (SUPing), hiking, camping and wildlife viewing with the added bonus of spectacular views of the peaks of the Gore Range. Piney River Ranch rents canoes and SUPs, and you can take a leisurely tour of the lake before heading to the restaurant for some pulled pork or carnitas tacos and a beer on the porch.

Compared to the Maroon Bells with less crowds and more activities and a restaurant, Piney Lake is the ultimate mountain paradise.

 

Sylvan Lake State Park
​Sylvan means a peaceful, wooded place and that’s what visitors will find at this beautiful park surrounded by the White River National Forest. Stunning mountain scenery, abundant recreation, wildlife to watch and top-notch fishing and hiking provide year-round diversions.

Anglers can try for rainbow, cutthroat, brook and brown trout in the lake and creeks. Hikers will find more than seven miles of state park trails and easy access to the national forest. Picnickers can stake their claim to a spot along the shoreline.  Canoeists, kayakers, paddle and electric motor boaters enjoy the 42 acre lake. Overnight visitors can choose to camp, stay in a cabin or lounge in a yurt .

GLENWOOD CANYON

Glenwood Canyon, the gateway to Glenwood Springs, was carved over 3 million years by the power of the Colorado River. This 16-mile canyon provides endless opportunities for recreation including hiking, biking, river rafting at Shoshone on the Colorado River and more. In addition to endless fun, this natural beauty if a geological and engineering feat.

HIKING IN GLENWOOD CANYON

Hanging Lake Trail
Hanging Lake is a Colorado treasure and a rare example of a travertine geological formation located in the heart of Glenwood Canyon on the White River National Forest. The 1.2 mile (1.9 km) trail is steep, rigorous and rocky but rewarding. This Natural National Landmark features awe-inspiring scenery and gentle waterfalls! The Hanging Lake trail is a backcountry hike. The trail is steep and rocky. In the winter it is also icy and slippery. Get your permit to hike Hanging Lake by reserving a day pass!

Grizzly Creek Trail
Grizzly Creek is one of several tributary streams that feeds into the Colorado River. The out and back trail meanders along the creek for several miles of spectacular, towering cliffs. Located at one of the most popular rest and recreation areas in Glenwood Canyon, Grizzly Creek is an up and back hike that follows the stream of the same name.

Easily one of the best hikes in Colorado, picnic spots and plenty of places to enjoy river views make this a popular choice for a summer outing. The clear, cold water comes from snowmelt on the Flat Tops and it is chocked full of fishing holes.

COLORADO CAMPING

Summer and fall in the Vail Valley makes for the perfect weather to go camping and it’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Colorado is a mecca for campers and the Vail Valley boasts these excellent locations:

In the fall months, the daytime temperatures remain warm, however the nighttime temps begin to drop and it can be quite chilly. Make sure to pack enough layers and a warm sleeping bag.

Before making a campfire, check the local wildfire warnings. Dry summers in Colorado leads to man made wildfires due to campfires and smoking. After your trip, remember to pack out your trash. We are all asked to use Leave No Trace principles to protect the local flora and fauna.

ON THE WATER

Sage Outdoor Adventures
Sage Outdoor Adventures owns conveniently located river rafting outposts on the Eagle, Arkansas and Colorado rivers. Sage’s whitewater rafting program is the most thought out, family friendly and professional experience in Colorado. This is truly the best way to take in the pure beauty of Colorado’s natural surroundings. You will not be disappointed.

Turtle Tubing
Take a mellow float trip down the Colorado River with Turtle Tubing out of Dotsero. The trips are open to adults and to kids 2 and older and are ideal for people looking for a relaxing and scenic day on the water. Guests can also book the Turtle Bus for transportation needs within the Vail Valley.

STAR GAZERS

Just a few miles up on Vail Pass or Tennessee Pass, meandering up a dirt road maintained by the US Forest Service, or finding your favorite camping spot, it is easy to escape the light pollution to enjoy the night sky filled with meteor showers. Intermediate and expert photographers will enjoy capturing the fullness of the Milky Way from May to October every year.

 

NATURE NERDS

Want to skip the hassle of deciding on the perfect hike and driving to the trailhead? Walking Mountains Science Center offers full and half day guided hikes (including winter snowshoe tours). These Nature hikes led by environmental experts and native explorers offer an impactful experience when the natural surrounding views and trails are paired with insightful knowledge of the flora and fauna.

HIKING TRAILS

Beginner Hikes:

  • Eagle’s Loop (Vail Mountain): Short ridgetop loop with great views of Mount of the Holy Cross. 1 mile (1.6 km), 15–20 minutes.
  • Nature Valley Complimentary Hike (Beaver Creek): in Beaver Creek: Easy guided hike. Begins at the top of Centennial Express (Meet at Spruce Saddle)

Intermediate Hikes:

  • Berry Picker (Vail Mountain): This trail winds down from Mid-Vail or Eagle’s Nest to Vail Village or Lionshead. 3.2 miles (5.1 km), 2–3 hours one way
  • Upper Piney Trail (Vail, CO): The trail is mostly in open meadows above the Piney Lake and Piney River before entering aspen groves and becoming a bit rougher before reaching the cascading falls at just under 3 miles.
  • East Lake Creek Trail (Edwards, CO): The trail climbs steeply from the trailhead through aspen groves for the first mile, then climbs more gradually following along BoothCreek. At mile 2, the trail passes 60 foot Booth Creek Falls.
  • Eagle Lake (Eagle, CO): There are majestic views of the Sawatch Mountain Range, Burnt Mountain, and William’s Mountains. There are excellent wildlife viewing opportunities for such animals as deer and elk.
  • Beaver Lake (Beaver Creek Mountain): This trail follows Beaver Creek as you hike through aspens and thimbleberry on an old wagon trail then onto single track up through coniferous forest to the Holy Cross Wilderness boundary.

HORSEBACK RIDING

One of the best ways to see and experience the Colorado wilderness is on horseback (where you can relax and let your horse do the walking). Horseback riding through green meadows caters to groups of nearly all ages and abilities. You can even

Bearcat Stables, Beaver Creek StablesPiney River Ranch, & Sage Outdoor Adventures, are all great options for tours!

Restaurants & Bars

In the Vail Valley, eating isn't merely sustenance - it's an important part of the lifestyle. From fine dining hotspots to casual comforts, it's not hard to find great food. Colorado is known for their locals breweries, distilleries and even wineries. Come sample a taste of Colorado and even international spirit favorites.

Activity Providers

Sure, Vail is world-renowned for its skiing and snowboarding, but the Vail Valley offers plenty beyond vast bowls of bluebird powder days and grippin' groomers. Whether you prefer your adventure water-drenched, iced, air-borne, cliff-side, cycled, motorized or snowy out mountain recreation covers it- and much, much more.

Vail Valley Events

Ski terrain and wonderful snow put the Vail Valley on the map, but it's more than just a ski resort. The calendar is packed with events that are a big part of the Vail Valley's culture. From outdoor concerts at the Ford Amphitheater to bull riding at the rodeo, it's easy to stay busy.

Visitor Information from the Locals

The Lil Smokies in Beaver Creek | Feb. 5

String band Lil Smokies smokin’ hot Catch the band that’s catching fire at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Feb. 5 IF YOU GO … What: Lil Smokies. When: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek. Cost: $22. This show is part of the VPAC ticket package, PICK 3 Shows for $90; PICK 5 Shows for $175; or PICK 8 Shows for $240. More information: Visit www.vilarpac.org or call...
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A National Broadway Tour – American in Paris

Romance on the stage Relive the famous musical An American in Paris when the national Broadway tour lands at the VPAC Jan. 22 Beaver Creek, Colo.  — The power of love is on full display in An American in Paris: A New Musical, a romantic tale of a young American soldier, a captivating French girl and a European city recovering after the war. The Tony Award-winning musical lands at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Jan. 22. An...
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Laugh out loud with Tom Papa at the VPAC

Laugh out loud with Tom Papa at the VPAC Watch one of the top comedic voices in the country at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Jan. 19 Beaver Creek, Colo. — If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to laugh more in 2020, then the VPAC has you covered. Prepare for a surge of endorphins when stand-up comedian Tom Papa brings his stand-up to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Jan. 19. Tom Papa lands at the Vilar...
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