Vail

When people think skiing in Colorado, Vail is often the first town that comes to mind. Established less than 50 years ago, saying the small town has grown rapidly in popularity is quite an understatement. World-famous Vail skiing and a high celebrity quotient have put it on the map for many travelers. Located in the heart of the Vail Valley, in the Colorado Rockies, it's a town created by and for skiing but has grown to a year-round destination that's a favorite with families and lovers of the outdoors.

The town lies about 25 miles from Camp Hale, which spawned the famous 10th Mountain Division of mountain-trained soldiers during World War II. The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame honors the memory of those soldiers, who played a pivotal role in the war.

Luxurious condos, first-class ski resorts and cozy lodges surround a village sporting dozens of restaurants that indulge visitors.

The town is home to a number of big annual events, including a food and wine festival, the World Alpine Ski Championships, a huge July 4th extravaganza, nationally renowned summer music and dance festivals and a locally loved rubber ducky race.

Former president Gerald R. Ford made his home here much of the time. His philanthropy created the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, a must-see. Also check out the Nature Center for an all-natural attraction.

At Vail Pass, visitors can find a handful of scenic and easily accessed lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. The hike up Mount of the Holy Cross is no easy task, but one of the most popular in the area.

As big as skiing is in the winter, it is replaced by top-notch hiking, cycling and golf in the summer.

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