Four Perfect Summer Days in Vail

Jul. 21, 2015

llama rides vailWhen you come to Vail, there are certain boxes you have to check: 1) ride the gondola, 2) head to a show at Ford Amphitheater, 3) explore Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 4) enjoy the dining and shopping in town. While these are all some of our favorite activities, they only just begin to scratch the service of what Vail’s summer season has to offer. 

Here’s a list of some of our favorite hidden treasures in and around Vail:

Vail Nature Center

Photo by John-Ryan Lockman

1. The Vail Nature Center is a quaint old farmhouse between the montane meadow and forested bank of Gore Creek just across the river from the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. This 7-acre facility is a tranquil gem for all ages to discover.  Expert nature guides host informative bird, wildflower and beaver pond tours and backcountry hikes. Kids programs include “Think like a Trout”, Art Nature and Scenic Story Time.   The evening family programs are unique to the Nature Center with S’Mores and More Family Campfire and Stories in the Sky Stargazing. The Nature Center is open every day through the end of September.

2. The Black Lakes are an accessible fishing gem located on top of Vail Pass just a short distance down the Vail Pass Tenmile Canyon National Recreation Trail off the Vail Pass Rest Area. Fishing the Black Lakes is sure to be rewarding with 2,500 pounds of rainbow fish stocked twice a summer and beautiful views of the Gore Range. The Black Lakes offer two bodies of water that are an easy, quick option to enjoy some still-water fishing.  Bring your flies and worms!!

3. Take a Llama to lunch! Get to know the curious nature of llamas on a “Take a Llama to Lunch” hike. The ‘boys’ are wildly popular with children and the pace and length of the hike makes it a great outing for families, friends and groups.  You’ll enjoy an interactive introduction to these unique pack animals before taking off. Families with young children typically take a short hike and may return to the cabin for lunch. Seasoned hikers and families with older children, typically enjoy a longer hike that winds through mature aspen groves and evergreen forest, which at the height of the season, is blanketed with wildflowers. Lunch is a signature “red­-checkered picnic” on the trail. For the more ‘adventurous’ check the day hikes with llamas and enjoy a more rigorous hike in a backcountry setting.

4. Piney River Ranch, a local’s favorite getaway, is located 11 miles from Vail and will take your breath away set on the edge of Piney Lake and nestled at the foot of the majestic Gore Range. With incredible 360 degree views throughout the 40 acres retreat and surrounded by thousands of acres of backcountry wilderness of the White River National Forest, Piney River Ranch offers a picture perfect Colorado day-trip.  And, plan a full day with summer activities for the entire family including hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, fly fishing, stand-up paddle boarding or simply relaxing by the fire pit. Piney River Ranch also offers a remarkable venue for special events and boasts surprise moose sightings while enjoying some of the best smoked BBQ around at the on-site restaurant.  We suggest that guests bring a light to medium jacket or sweater and based on your day’s itinerary, we also encourage bringing hats, long pants, riding boots, hiking boots or rain gear for additional flexibility and protection.

Vail adventure ridge Summer tubing

5. New Summer Tubing. Head up the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Vail’s Adventure Ridge, grab a tube and hop a ride on Vail’s newest activity! Be one of the first to experience this new take on the mountain tubing adventure. Summer tubing provides guests the opportunity to feel the thrill of the mountain just like winter tubing on snow. Guests ages 8 and older and at least 42” tall can enjoy three lanes of downhill thrills where snow is not required!

6. East Vail/Booth Creek Falls Hike. The Alpine gem of East Vail is located just four short miles from Vail Village, nestled among the mountains and the White River National Forest. East Vail is bordered by Vail Pass to the east and the Vail Golf Course to the west. The beautiful, clear Gore Creek runs down the mountains, through East Vail and westward through Vail. Classic old-growth forests of aspen and healthy lodge pole pine surround the stream.  In summer, the numerous waterfalls of East Vail are visible and reachable from town, including the large falls near the Vail Racquet Club. East Vail provides outstanding recreational access. Road bikers and hikers love East Vail’s great location at the foot of Vail Pass and a paved bike path connects East Vail with Vail Village. Bighorn Park is a fantastic spot to picnic, let the kids play on the unique playground, run your dog, toss in a fishing line, and hang out. It has a small pavilion and several barbecue grills. As for hiking, popular hikes from East Vail include Bighorn Creek Trail, and Deluge Creek Trail. The most popular is Booth Creek Falls Hike, which is a super beautiful Vail hidden gem that boasts a great hike and stunning views.  At 4.1 miles out and back this hike is rated moderate with 3,000 feet in elevation gain.  At just 2 miles up you’ll be rewarded with the 60 foot Booth Creek Falls. The trail continues through Conifer forests and meadows of wildflowers. The last ¼ mile is worth every step to Booth Lakes at 11,480 feet. Bring a jacket, water and a picnic lunch to enjoy.

Booth Creek Falls