Vail Colorado, located 100 miles west of Denver, is a charming chalet village with plenty of activities for visitors in the summer or winter. Created as a resort in 1962 with just two chairlifts, one gondola, and a $5 all-day lift ticket, today Vail welcomes over 1.5 million skiers each year. The town of Vail, just seven miles long and two miles wide, is home to approximately 4500 permanent residents.
The central Colorado region that includes today's Vail was the traditional home of the Ute tribe up until the mid-19th century. The region was first explored by Jim Bridger and Lord Gore in 1854-1856 and the mountain range surrounding Vail bears Gore's name. Gradually, the area became known for its mining and lettuce farming.
Ski enthusiasts became interested in the Vail area during World War II while training as part of the Army's 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hole in Leadville. The resort at Vail opened in 1962 and continues to grow. A $1 billion redevelopment is currently underway and will expand the Vail's public spaces and create a new multi-use marketplace.
In the Winter
Vail was rated no. 1 of the "Top Ski Resorts" by Ski Magazine in 2005 - the resort's 14th time at no. 1 in 19 years. The winter ski season ranges from mid-November to mid-April and attracts over 1.5 million skiers from around the world.
Vail offers 5289 acres of skiable terrain. The resort has 193 ski trails, 53% of which are expert and advanced trails (29% are intermediate and 18% are beginners). Vail gets an average of 348" of snow annually. In addition to skiing, Vail offers snowboarding, sleigh rides, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.
Winter cultural activities include the Vail Film Festival, held each March. This independent film festival draws celebrities, filmmakers, and film buffs from all over the globe.
In the Summer
Vail is almost as magical in the summer as it is in the winter. The area comes alive with wildflowers, beginning in early April. Summer visitors can enjoy miles of hiking trails, excellent fly-fishing, white-water rafting, mountain biking, and hot air balloon rides.
Vail is home to a number of cultural pursuits, including 24 art galleries, the Colorado Ski Museum, and free summer concerts at Ford Park. Vail is also the summer home of the New York Philharmonic.
Vail is easily accessible by car from Denver via I-70, which runs adjacent to the resort. Visitors can also fly into the Eagle County Regional airport, located just outside of the resort area, with connections from Denver. Accommodations vary from condominiums (some of which sit right at the base of the ski area) to large resort hotels to charming bed and breakfast inns. Once in Vail, getting around is easy. Vail operates the largest free public transportation system in the country. Visitors can hop on a bus to Avon, Beaver Creek, Minturn, and Leadville - as well as to the slopes.