Vail Colorado

Vail Ski Vacations
Vail Ski Vacations  Image:Jack Affleck, Beaver Mountain Ski Resort

Vail Colorado opened in 1962 and has been one of the best ski resorts in North America ever since. Situated in the Colorado Rockies about 100 miles west of Denver, it is also the largest North American ski resort after Whistler Blackcomb, and this translates to one great skiing or snowboarding experience. A year round resort, Vail offers much more than great skiing, however. There's actually a saying around these parts that you come for the winters and end up staying because of the summers.

The town of Vail started to grow significantly in 1966, and its expansion was largely attributed to growing popularity of the Vail Ski Resort. Right at the base of the ski mountain is where the town unfolds, and it offers many things for the resident or visitor to enjoy. In the heart of it all is Vail Village, which is home to some of the best Vail restaurants, nightlife hangouts, and hotels. You can walk to the lifts in no time from any point in the charming Vail Village core, though it would be understandable if you got distracted along the way. Should time allow, a stroll along Gore Creek can be a good way to spend some time in Vail Village, and you might also drop by the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame. It offers excellent insight into the history of skiing and snowboarding on the whole and can fill an hour's time with ease.

Vail Summer
Vail Summer  Image: rjones0856 (flickr)

Next to the Vail Village core is the Lionshead Village area, which is home to Vail Square. At Vail Square, there is an ice rink that is open daily, and visitors can also interest themselves in the satisfying collection of shops and eateries. During the warmer months, Vail Square is known to host fun outdoor events with live entertainment, and regardless of the time of year, it can simply be a great place to hang out. A free shuttle makes its way around both Lionshead and the Vail Village core should you wish to hop aboard, though you can easily navigate this central area by way of foot. Ski and snowboard racks are in good supply if you need to stash your stuff while visiting the shops and eateries. As for getting on the mountain, the main gondola is found at Lionshead, and you might be interested to know that it can take you to the high-altitude recreation park that is Adventure Ridge.

To the west of Lionshead is West Vail, and it is home to a variety of accommodations, including condos and other vacation rental properties. Also found in this neighborhood are grocery stores, casual restaurants, and sporting goods outlets. As you might expect, there is also an East Vail, and it too offers some enticing accommodation options, especially for those who wish to stay outside of the busier Vail Village core. A bedroom community of sorts, East Vail enjoys a delightfully relaxed atmosphere, the likes of which is accentuated by the surrounding evergreens and mountain peaks.

In addition to private residences, East Vail is home to the Vail Racquet Club. This club offers luxurious condos and townhouses, not to mention excellent recreational facilities. When Vail Racquet Club guests aren't spending time indoors playing tennis or something the like, can engage in a variety of outdoor activities that help to make East Vail such a good base. These activities include fly fishing and snowshoeing.

Regardless of where you find yourself in the town of Vail, getting to another area won't be difficult. Many distances can by foot, and if you don't want to hoof it, free in-town shuttle service is available. If you are staying at one of the Vail hotels or condo rentals, especially those that are found in the main village areas, you really won't need a vehicle, unless you wish to have one for side trips to places such as nearby Beaver Creek. Between the free shuttles, your own two feet, and the lifts that serve wonderful Vail Mountain, you can get where you need to go.

Vail Colorado Ski Resort
Vail Colorado Ski Resort

When planning a trip to Vail Colorado, there are a few tips that you might keep in mind. The town of Vail is found at an elevation of 8,120 feet above sea level and Vail Mountain has a peak elevation of around 11,570 feet. As such, you might want to take it easy on the first day or first few days so that you can acclimate. Applying sunblock and keeping a good pair of sunglasses or goggles handy is also recommended, especially when hitting the slopes on sunny days. The reflection of the sun's rays off the snow can cause vision problems galore if you are without UV protection for your eyes. Also, you might find that you can get sunburn rather quickly while up on the mountain, even on cloudier days.

Top image: Doug Letterman (flickr)

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