Why visit Vail
There’s no place like Vail for year-round recreation, nature immersion and cultural activities in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Whether you are interested in skiing, biking, hiking, fishing, rafting or more, Vail offers outdoor pursuits for all ages and abilities.
Thanks to the magical combination of averaging more than 300+ days of sunshine and 370+ inches of snow each year, plus majestic views of the surrounding Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges, the phrase “Like nothing on Earth” comes to life before your very eyes. One look around and you will understand why sustainability and environmental stewardship are fully embraced, The aim is to preserve and protect the incredible natural beauty that you can enjoy during your green holiday in Vail.
Step into Vail Village and feel like you’re worlds away. Drink in the European vibe and explore the alpine-inspired architecture as you stroll the cobblestone streets. From casual to fine dining and award-winning hotels, Vail’s Villages will charm you from your first step. Learn more here about green holiday in Vail!
Apart from acting as an incredible destination for any outdoor sport enthusiast, Vail is home to plentiful wilderness and a community dedicated to protecting it. While the people here are passionate about getting outside and exploring, there is also a deep respect for the environment that results in the active implementation of programs that ensure pristine wilderness.
Culture & Local Life
The Colorado Snowsports Museum resides in Vail, where you can discover how Vail was concepted. During World War II, the Army’s Tenth Mountain Division used the Vail area for backcountry survival training. After the war, many of the men who trained there were drawn back to the mountain valleys. Vail was born from the European ski towns the Tenth Mountain Division explored while abroad.
On top of fantastic skiing and snowboarding, Vail offers year-round activities for the whole family. Embrace your adventurous side and explore our immaculate nature trails on foot, bike, or horseback. Take some time to nourish your soul in Vail, where performing arts flourish, from thrilling musical events to dance festivals and art shows. Explore local food and artisans at the Farmer’s Market and Art Show offered weekly throughout the summer.
Vail is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Which is why those of us lucky enough to live, visit, and play here care about Vail. We are keeping our footprint small, our resources plentiful, and our contribution to sustainability top of mind. It’s the least we can do for the place we all love. As a result, Vail was recognized as the first sustainable destination in the country.
Sustainability Practice Story
Vail is a year round destination for recreation, nature immersion and cultural activities in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. But the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Vail is transportation (a combination of visitors traveling to Vail, employees driving to work in Vail, municipal and Vail Mountain operations, and purveyor trucks delivering goods to businesses). Town of Vail developed several programs: (1) electrification (Electric Vehicle (EV) Readiness Plan, EV infrastructure and electric buses), (2) micro mobility through various community programs and (3) regional transportation creating a hub outside of the village for deliveries.
Nature and Wildlife
Vail is surrounded by the White River National Forest and is flanked by the Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges. The Eagles Nest Wilderness boundary is just beyond town limits and is the headwaters for Gore Creek, the mountain stream that runs through the heart of Vail. It offers a peaceful respite for residents and visitors, important wildlife habitat, and a water supply for downstream communities.
With the abundance of protected lands surrounding Vail, wildlife is plentiful. From charismatic mega-fauna such as black bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep to smaller animals like raptors, songbirds, beavers, marmots, trout, and boreal toads, you never know what you might see while hiking through the landscape.
If you’re flying, you have two airport options. The first is the Vail Eagle Airport (EGE) that lands in Eagle, a short 20 minutes away from Vail or Denver International Airport (DEN). There are several shuttle services that travel all around Colorado, specifically from Denver. You can use this as a start of your green holiday in Vail.
Make your travel carbon neutral and offset your travel emissions. Support Colorado-based projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits through the Colorado Carbon Fund.
From the pedestrian friendly villages to the free, year-round bus service throughout the area, it is easy to get around without driving a car during your green holiday in Vail. The town’s bus service is among the largest free transportation systems in the country. It offers residents and guests a timely service to and from Vail Mountain and throughout town. Vail Village, Lionshead and Golden Peak offer pedestrian friendly villages with wide sidewalks and streets with a minimum of vehicle traffic. There are 15 miles of paved and soft surfaced multi-use paths throughout Vail which make walking and biking very accessible. Learn more about it here.
Good places to stay
Travel tips from our editors
Mountains and hiking go hand-in-hand, especially during Colorado’s sunny summer months. There are a variety of ecosystems to hike through from aspen groves, mixed conifer forests, and fields of wildflowers to waterfalls, mountain streams, and numerous high alpine lakes. Whether you’re looking for a heart-pumping workout or a leisurely stroll, there are hikes to fit every level at Vail. Guided hikes are also available for your green holiday in Vail.
Biking is one of the most popular summer activities at Vail, and for good reason. From the unmatched on-mountain views to the adrenaline rush you get riding down the mountain, mountain biking is one of the best ways to enjoy all that summer in Vail has to offer. Vail offers 15 miles of paved multi-use recreation paths that wind along Gore Creek with incredible views of the mountains of the Gore Range. For tips on biking in Vail and top trails to explore for all skill levels read here. There are also several local bike shops that rent mountain bikes, road bikes, and electric bikes.
Skiing and winter activities
Vail’s wide variety of terrain, back bowls, and 5,317 skiable acres are one-of-a-kind. Paired with pristine conditions, skiing Vail is truly like no mountain you’ve experienced before. From freshly groomed trails to deep powder skiing, there is something for every skier to enjoy. Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are also popular winter activities in Vail.
On the water
Vail is a great place to base your rafting or kayaking adventure from. Boasting its own Whitewater Park in the centre of the village as well as Class I to Class V river trips on the Eagle, Colorado, and even the Arkansas rivers. Be sure to check it out on your green holiday in Vail.
Respect the nature
While enjoying the plethora of scenic trails and outdoor sites during your green holiday in Vail, it is important to remember to respect the natural landscape. Take only photographs, and leave only footprints. Leave No Trace is a common outdoor ethics practice that is locally embraced that encourages visitors to leave the area the way they found it. This includes packing out all trash and personal belongings and refraining from picking any vegetation or environmental features. Other easy ways to preserve the environment are keeping dogs on a leash and adhering to seasonal trail closures, which protect local wildlife during migration and calving seasons. Some of the very popular trails are being impacted by overuse, so be sure to seek out some of the trails less traveled. They all wind through incredible landscapes and lead to beautiful views. If a trailhead is full of vehicles, look for a different trail option here.
The Vail Valley is situated at elevations well above sea level with an elevation of 8,150 ft. in town. The top of Vail Mountain reaches an altitude of 11,570 ft. This provides for stunning views but thin air so it is important to remember to give yourself time to acclimate to the higher elevations. Make sure to drink plenty of water upon arrival and to rest when needed. As the weather can be unpredictable it is also important to prepare for any weather conditions and to account for changes throughout the day. Bring several layers, including a waterproof layer on any adventure you choose to do during your green holiday in Vail.
Visit in the fall
When the aspen groves start turning, the valley comes to life with a calming yellow glow. Surround yourself with golden leaves and light, crisp air of the coming winter. The fall is a fantastic time to visit and tends to be less busy than the summer and winter seasons.
Give back to the community while visiting through volunteer work. Interested in helping with Restore the Gore riparian restoration through a tree planting or riparian restoration work? Contact Pete Wadden at email@example.com for details. Learn more about the Restore the Gore initiative here.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offer opportunities to get involved with the community, meet new people, & learn more about gardening in our mountain environment. Volunteers support the continued excellence of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens through their hard work & dedication. Explore a few of the volunteer activities that support this great community treasure that you can donate your time to while visiting.
Walking Mountains Science Center mission is to “awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.” They provide locals and visitors from pre-k to gray with opportunities to explore nature, gain a scientific understanding, and learn about the many wonders of our mountain environment through natural science and sustainability programs.
The Eagle River Watershed Council advocates for local rivers through educational programs, special events, restoration projects, monitoring, research, and community volunteer projects. Volunteers play an integral role in each of the Eagle River Watershed Council’s accomplishments.Throughout the summer, volunteers join Eagle River Watershed Council to remove non-native, invasive species and plant native trees at priority locations along the Eagle River and its tributaries. No tools or prior experience necessary; all ages are welcome! For more information & to sign up for any of our projects, please contact Kate Isaacson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested trips and tours
Several entities in Vail offer educational, eco-friendly and adventure-based tours and activities:
- Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is the highest botanical garden in the world and located in Vail’s signature Ford Park. This internationally acclaimed botanic garden known for its alpine horticulture, education, and conservation offers a variety of options from public or private guided tours to self-guided tours.
- Vail Nature Center: Located on the “wild side “of Ford Park and operated by Walking Mountains Science Center, the Nature Center building is an old homestead building surrounded by 7 acres of natural preserve and walking trails. Join a guided wildflower, bird or beaver pond tour, Creekside nature hike or engage in a variety of family-friendly programs.
- Nature Discovery Center: Hop on the Eagle Bahn Gondola and take a scenic ride up to The Nature Discovery Center on Vail Mountain. There, you can embark on a free guided nature walk or snowshoe tour with one of the guides or stick around for a free interpretive nature talk given by an expert naturalist. You’ll get even more out of your day hike, as you learn about high alpine ecology and animal adaptations while taking in the majestic mountain views.
- Art in Public Places: Join a Vail Art Walk offered weekly throughout the summer to explore the Town of Vail’s public art collection including over 55 works ranging from paintings, sculptures, murals, playground components to site-integrated art. Enjoy this free one-hour tour with the Art in Public Places Coordinator through Vail Village. The tour winds its way through the village with discussions of the history of the Vail Valley, the founding of Vail mountain, the master planning of the Village, and the importance of site-specific art.
- Colorado Snowsports Museum: Located in the heart of Vail within the Vail Transportation Center, the Museum is a treasure trove of ski history and heritage. Featured topics include the famed 10th Mountain Division training for WWII at nearby Camp Hale, Vail’s first 50 years, Spirit of Americans in the Winter Olympics, and Skiing and Snowboarding history. Join a Historic Vail Village Walking Tour, offered throughout the week.
- Epic Discovery: Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain, Epic Discovery provides a unique, on-mountain summer experience, immersing you in activities which provide big-time thrills, allowing you to challenge yourself physically, guiding you to explore and better understand your natural surroundings.
The first Certified Sustainable Desintation in the United States
Vail is the first certified sustainable destination in the country and the first mountain resort community certified under the Mountain IDEAL standard in the world.
Vail is a certified Green Destinations. Vail’s Mountain IDEAL certification is implemented by Green Destinations.
Vail has been featured in Top 100 Sustainable Destination since 2017.
Vail received the prestigious ITB Award Best of the Americas in 2018 and 2020.
Town of Vail Environmental Sustainability Director
“John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe.” In our work as sustainability professionals I am inspired every day by the interconnectedness of the natural world and the resilience of our systems. To reimagine tourism as an experience which promotes sustainable communities through economic vitality, thriving ecosystems and wildlife is the challenge of our time.”
Mayor Pro Tem, Vail Town Council
“It has been an incredible experience to live in Vail all of my life and witness the transformation of our community and tourism economy. Our most recent emphasis on becoming the first certified sustainable mountain resort destination in the U.S. has been humbling, and truly inspiring. The collaborative work has been incredibly rewarding.”
Town of Vail Economic Development Director
“As a destination marketing professional, and one who treasures the natural environment that we all share, I’m drawn to the words of Sylvia Plath: “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’ ” These words inspire me to continue with our work to protect the natural environments that passionately inspire so many people from around the globe. This is our calling: to protect that which inspires and uplifts us so everyone can partake.”