Vail Village Ski Area in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

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Continuing my icy adventures, this post will tell you about Vail, Colorado, famous famous famous for skiing and snowboarding – and well deserved!

After visiting Dillon’s Ice Castles on a recent Friday, my husband and I headed to Vail for what we thought was one night. Turned out to be two nights because we got 10+ inches of snow overnight and it just kept coming down! Not sorry, as you’ll see!

During that weekend we took the thank-god-for-this-miracle hotel shuttle to Vail Village. Official but unromantic name of the bus stop: Vail Transportation Center. Before leaving that morning, I snapped this photo at the hotel’s pool as my husband made some sort of statement about macaques in Japan:

Now, that’s MY kind of pool party!

But I digress. Back to Vail Village. In short order, and after a stop at the Lionshead Village Welcome Center, we stepped off the bus at Vail Village. It was still snowing lightly and everything was covered in a beautiful white blanket! Here’s the scene from the deck of the transpo center – note the slopes in the background:

One of my favorite shots of the day is this one, which I took before descending the steps into the village proper:

Vail is a fairly new town. It was incorporated in 1966, which was four years after the ski slopes opened there. Its population is just over 5,000, not counting, of course, us tourists and those skiers and snowboarders. It is named for Vail Pass, which was named for a civil engineer who routed Colorado Highway 6 through the Rockies. You would know Highway 6 today as Interstate 70.

At the bottom of the aforementioned steps, we encountered this lovely covered bridge:

Everywhere I looked I saw Christmas cards! Passing under the bridge is Gore Creek, which runs through the middle of the length of Vail:

Interestingly, Vail is located within the White River National Forest; they lease the land from the US Forest Service. And when there isn’t snow enough for skiing and boarding, you can use the lifts and so forth for mountain biking, hiking and other summer sports. Conversely, in the winter, the golf course that lies along Gore Creek, popular for fly-fishing, becomes a cross-country ski track.

We mostly window-shopped for the next couple of hours. Here are some shots of the village streets, with the ever-present skiers making their way to the slopes beyond:

I was totally surprised at how German/Austrian/Alp-y this place looked!

However, once I learned that the founders of Vail were ex-soldiers from World War II, it made more sense, because they’d trained at Camp Hale, just 14 miles to the south of Vail. After the war, they came back to the Rockies and opened the Vail Ski Resort. And, apparently, they brought back that alpine flavor from Europe, too.

Here’s the first restaurant and hotel in Vail, still kicking:

In fact, we had lunch there, and I can vouch for surprisingly authentic German/Austrian cuisine!

Continuing our stroll, we saw lots of public art, as is usual in Colorado:

Even Einstein seemed to be enjoying the snow:

In winter climes, you have to affix flags to the fire hydrants in case they’re covered in snow:

Have you noticed anything unusual about the streets in Vail Village? As in, no dirty slush, no piles of plowed snow, etc? I learned that the streets here are heated! Nice touch, Vail!

Eventually we ended up at the base of the ski mountain. Here’s a shot of a particularly patriotic skier next to the enclosed gondola lift:

Vail (average elevation: 8150 feet) has 5,289 acres of skiable area, 33 ski lifts and193 marked skiing trails. Here are some skiers and snowboarders swooshing down the slope:

Honestly, I didn’t expect to like Vail so much. Its reputation is to be VERY expensive and people I’ve met who frequent such places have not impressed me favorably in the past. However, I really fell in love with the place and the people there during my visit! I’m very glad we stayed an extra day to enjoy this lovely, lovely place. Stay tuned next week for more about what Vail has to offer!

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4 Responses

  1. Ann M

    As soon as I saw your title I knew you must have enjoyed Vail knowing your love of Germany. I’ve visited Vail briefly in winter and summer and definitely felt the influence even though I’ve never been. And we ate in that restaurant! Fun little town even for a non-skier/mountain biker like me.

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