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.
In addition to the world-class winter activities (not only skiing and boarding, but also snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow tubing and sleigh rides), the town is becoming a hot spot for summer adventure with the launch of Epic Discovery, where visitors can zipline, take scenic gondola rides and off-road tours, fly down an alpine coaster and tackle an adventure course; elsewhere in town, there's top-notch waterfall hikes, challenging and family-friendly mountain-bike and road cycling routes, and many nearby golf options.
The town is also home to a number of big annual events, including the Hot Summer Nights series, the Vail International Dance Festival and Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and Snow Daze, the Burton U.S. Open, Carnivail and Taste of Vail in the winter.
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.
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.