Vail Mountain rises above the surrounding White River National Forest to a staggering 11,570 feet. It is the largest ski resort in the United States, second only in North America to Canada's Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. Vail Mountain boasts of 33 ski lifts with 193 skiing trails covering its expansive 5,289 acres.
Formerly used by ranchers to graze their sheep flocks, the United States Forest Service Forest now leases the land to Vail Resorts. As a result, both Vail Resorts, Inc. and the United States Forest Service thoroughly encourage the citizen use of public lands. And while winter brings in skiers from around the world, Vail Mountain and her valleys are in no way exclusive to snowbound sports. Once spring comes to melt away snow facades, Vail Mountain and the White River National Forest fill with hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Melting snowcaps create raging rivers sought after by rafters and fishing enthusiasts.
The beauty and diversity of the area's environment has made Vail Village a unique township devoted to imitating these natural amenities in its own ways. This small town boasts of the highest botanical gardens in the world, the free-access Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, whose mission is in part to foster education and train knowledgeable staff vital to the region's conservation efforts.
Sustainability is an important discussion topic to Vail Village citizens. Despite having a population and budget well below that of major metropolitan cities, Vail hosts the United States' largest free transportation system. Offering residents and guests prompt service throughout the township, as well as connecting riders to and from Vail Mountain. Included in its fleet of busses is a hybrid-electric bus. Expanding from this environmentally-concerned transportation network, Vail Village currently is the review phase of an upcoming mixed-use resort space slated as one of the largest "green" environmentally sustainable development projects on the continent.
Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame
The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame, right in the center of Vail Valley, has six themed galleries with museum display pieces, stories and video showing the history of skiing and snowboarding. It also devotes space to the Olympics. The museum, which offers free admission, makes its money from a gift shop, which carries a wide variety of unique vintage ski souvenirs and gifts.
Gerald Ford Amphitheater
Often regarded as one of the nicest outdoor concert venues in America, the Gerald Ford Amphitheater offers something almost every day, whether it's a concert by a premium rocker, an up and coming band or one of the many free shows put on each week. The venue offers 1,260 covered seats and an additional 1,300 on its grassy hillside featuring an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains.
Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club
The Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club is a must-do destination for any golfer. The private club offers members and guests their own separate clubhouses and the opportunity to play either the Tom Fazio- or Greg Norman-designed courses, depending on the day. The Fazio course features the longest par-72 — a whopping 7,113 yards. The scenic Norman course, meanwhile, features the mountain landscape within its design.
Adventure Ridge is a multi-sport center offering hiking and biking trails in the summer and fall, and sledding, tubing and ice skating in the winter. The gondola ride up the mountain is an experience in and of itself. Summer also offers a climbing wall, mini-golf, and horseback riding. Additionally, the scenery at 10,000 feet is unbeatable. And there are many discount deals that include food.
Sonnenalp Resort Spa
After a day of hiking and biking and skiing and golfing, a day at the spa for complete recovery can't hurt. The Sonnenalp Resort Spa is a small slice of Europe right in Vail. Part of the Sonnenalp Lodge, the spa is free to guests of the lodge, but also available to the general public. The spa features heated indoor and outdoor pools, indoor and outdoor whirlpools overlooking Gore Creek, Turkish steam rooms and sauna with nearby cold plunge to flush your system, a fitness center with television monitors and windows looking over Gore Creek, daily yoga or pilates classes, as well as private yoga instructors and personal trainers.
Getting Around Vail
Vail has a free bus system. The buses are clean, comfortable, and technologically advanced. The buses use GPS to monitor the location of the buses at all times. You will be able to ensure you never miss a bus to your next destination. The buses travel throughout the Vail Valley to take you virtually to anywhere you need to be. The schedule changes depending upon the year so make sure that you verify times upon your arrival.
Most taxis are available all day and night and everyday throughout the year. Many taxis will transport people to and from all neighboring Vail Valley towns. These services often have taxi pick up points, and in other circumstances, they may pick you up at your location directly. You will have to phone in advance for a taxi and it may take up to 40 minutes before arrival so be certain to do a bit of planning if you have reservations or a flight. The taxis are reliable and the drivers are friendly.
Several shuttle services are offered to and from the airport to your hotels and between ski resorts. Airport shuttles vary greatly in pricing and availability. Certain shuttle companies have set departures based on the flight schedules, as well as hourly departures from both Denver International Airport and Eagle Airport. You are able to book a round-trip or a one-way shuttle. You also have the option of using ski shuttle services with various providers to transport between various slopes.
A growing trend is to rent bicycles to get around Vail. This community is incredibly environmentally friendly and encourages visitors to be so, as well. Many bike rental shops also provide guided tours of the area and take you to places a traditional method of transportation cannot. They are affordable and the freedom of not having to work around the schedule of another person or system is liberating.
If you prefer the transportation style of elite travel, consider a high-end car service or a limousine service. Both are available for any number of services. You might use them to pick you up and drop you off at the airport. You might also utilize such services for daily travel to and from ski resorts or simply to complete errands. Regardless of your transportation needs, these specialized services will happily drive you around the area. It should be noted that the price is much greater of any of the others previously mentioned.
One Track Mind
Outdoor sports activities in Vail draw thousands of people to the city annually, so it is no surprise that there are so many sport supply shops there. One Track Mind on Lionshead Circle sells snowboards, boots, and all the accessories in the winter months and casual, everyday clothing during the spring and summer. Children are covered through Vail Sports Kids, which operates in two different locations offering all kids and teens need to hit the slopes. For rentals, visit one of the Vail Sports locations and choose ski and snowboard equipment.
A Secret Garden
Due to the high tourist traffic in Vail, gift shops are also a popular stop. A Secret Garden offers flowers of all kinds as well as gift items for the whole family. Maui Traders on Wall Street is another prime location for souvenirs, including clothing and novelty items, as are the Vail T-Shirt Company and Mountain Tees.
Get a taste of the culture in Vail by visiting the local artisans' shops, which offer jewelry, art pieces and more. Take a peek at abstract art and sculptures at Artful Sol, and consider purchasing what you see to take home. Betteridge has been in Vail offering jewelry and watches for more than 25 years, and can be found at the base of the mountain. The art of watchmaking is highlighted at the Balance Wheel: A Gallery of Time. Some of the best artists in the country are represented, with their pieces available for purchase, at the Claggett-Rey Gallery, as well. One of the most unusual and eclectic shops in all of Vail is the Alaskan Shop, which offers fine woodcarvings and sculptures.
Gourmet Food & Treats
Finally, Vail's presence as a center for foodies from all around the country also makes it a wonderful place to find gourmet treats. The City Market located in West Vail offers fine foods, as well as liquors and wines. Marketplace on Meadow Drive is a wonderful location for top quality sweets, wines, and cheeses. The Lionshead General Store is a "one stop shop" where you can find everything from daily meal and snack necessities to specialty items. You will also find A La Car, which is a unique meal and food take-out establishment that can provide everything from down home cooking to gourmet delicacies with nothing but a simple phone call.
Winter is a special time in Vail, Colorado, and one of the biggest events the city hosts all year long is the annual Snow Daze celebration. Held each December, Snow Daze is the first big event of Vail's busy season and draws thousands of visitors and some big-name bands to the city. The weeklong event features several concerts and huge parties thrown at sponsored venues throughout town. Music ranges from alternative to heavy metal, rock and more, with something to please everyone.
While winter is prime time in Vail, there are big events in the fall, as well. Check out Vail Oktoberfest, which is held over the course of two weekends in September. Bring the entire family out for fun at this unique celebration, which patterns itself after the original Oktoberfest celebration. During the two specified weekends, Vail turns into a Bavarian haven, complete with traditional music, food, games and contests. Many people dress in Bavarian garb as well. Special events include the annual bratwurst eating contest, a fun run, and keg bowling.
Spring Back to Vail
When the busy season in Vail ends, you know spring has arrived. The warmer months are ushered in by a huge "Spring Back to Vail" event. Touted as the "biggest end-of-season bash in the Rocky Mountains," Spring Back to Vail shuns the cold weather outfits and urges those who attend to get busy outside. Visit to take in the World Pond Skimming Championships and see nightly live concerts by some of the biggest acts from all genres of the music industry.
Vail Film Festival
If artistic films are more your style, Vail also has you covered with the Vail Film Festival. For the past nine years, the festival has been a place where independent filmmakers and those who top the industry come together for screenings, roundtable discussions and big parties and celebrations. The event is open to both professionals in the filmmaking industry as well as those who are simply fans of good movies and want to purchase a pass to attend.
Winter Mountain Games
A fairly new event in Vail draws a rough and tumble crowd of professional athletes and their fans. For the past two years Vail has been home to the Winter Mountain Games, where ice climbers, skiiers, mountaineers, snowshoe racers and slalom bikers come together to compete for huge cash prizes and bragging rights. Events are held throughout an entire weekend in February, with plenty of excitement for spectators of all ages.
FAQs about hotels near Vail Village
How much does a cheap hotel near Vail Village cost per night?
In the last year, a 2 star hotel near Vail Village can be as cheap as $88.33 per night. (based on HotelPlanner prices)
How much does a 3 star hotel near Vail Village cost per night?
In the last year, the average 3 star hotel near Vail Village has been $164.41 per night. (based on HotelPlanner prices)
How much does a higher-end hotel near Vail Village cost?
In the last year, the average 4 star hotel near Vail Village has been $222.20 per night. (based on HotelPlanner prices)