Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in the Rockies at Vail, Colorado

While hanging out in Vail last July – in vast contrast to the snowbound village we saw last winter – our host suggested a walk. It was very warm that day, which made me not want to go, but I’m so glad the group coaxed me into it. The walk was to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, which I didn’t even know existed before that walk!

This small botanic garden is entirely free, unless you want to make a donation or become a member of their support group, and it is absolutely wonderful! It seems Betty Ford, First Lady to Gerald Ford (1974-77), “lent her name” to the Alpine Gardens in 1988, according to the literature on site. I think the gardens existed before then, but I’m not 100% on that.

I do know the gardens are administered by a nonprofit that conducts research and other projects. Plus their website has a searchable plant database and offers an alpine wildflower ID app that you can use while walking among the flowers there – and anywhere for that matter.

Anyway, the Fords visited Vail often and lived there at some point, along with their family.

Not to be outdone, Gerald “lent his name” to the amphitheater next to the gardens:

We tried to go in, but it was closed for some sort of concert rehearsal, although we could hear it.

Anyway, the garden, at 8,200 feet elevation, is organized into sections such as Mountain West plants, Alpines of the World plants, Rocky Mountain Ecosystems and Pollinator Garden. In addition, there’s an education center building with all sorts of exhibits and programs year round. There’s also a playground and open area for picnics and such. You can even rent the place for weddings and events like that.

All the plants were labeled with genus and species, as well as geographical location, like this beauty from Turkey and Iran:

There are well-maintained walkways and bridges and even a stream. Native rock has been placed to look natural yet provide a structure to the gardens.

So here are a few of the flowers I photographed that day – not sure what they are, except for the GIANT poppies! But enjoy them anyway!

Finally, here’s my favorite tree of that day:

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

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