Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Vail’s peak-hugged location makes it a glorious year-round destination.
If you’ve already experienced the magic of wintertime skiing, you know it lives up to its world-renowned reputation — but have you tried making turns come spring? Or perhaps you’re a summer enthusiast who relishes long hikes. In that case, shouldn’t you experience the splendor of fall? Plus, slower times of year in spring and fall often means scoring a deal on lodging, especially when you book direct.
No matter what your favorite season is, if you come to Vail at a different time of year, you’ll uncover new ways to appreciate all it has to offer. And here are some ways to take good care of Vail, so it’s just as lovely when you return.
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Spring Splendor: Skiing in Sunshine
Why you’ll love it: Ski season is still going strong, along with warmer temps and bluebird days.
As the weather gets milder, you don’t have to hang up your ski boots. Vail’s ski season often runs into the end of April, meaning plenty of bluebird days with crystal-clear skies and softer snow. Spring skiing and snowboarding also comes with a lively après-ski scene, as a variety of restaurants and bars offer up patio space and mountainside decks, entertainment and happy hour deals to cap off a day on the slopes.
When you’re not on the mountain, stroll through Vail and Lionshead villages for some fresh air and a look at the abundance of public art, including murals, sculptures and installations. Or, make your way to Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest elevation botanical garden in North America at 8,200 feet. The scenery is stunning and offers a tranquil oasis that can be explored on foot or snowshoes.
For an indoor activity, treat yourself to a spa day at one of Vail’s world-class spas. A broad range of rejuvenating treatments will leave you relaxed and refreshed.
Signature event: Don’t miss the Taste of Vail (April), a palate-pleasing food and wine festival. Check out more culinary events in Vail.
Summer Bliss: A Playground for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Why you’ll love it: Outdoor recreation at its finest.
Sunny days open up a world of possibilities for adventure, as wildflowers blanket the mountainsides. The range of things to do in Vail in the summer provides something for everyone. Get your adrenaline pumping with a thrilling whitewater-rafting trip down the Eagle River or Gore Creek. For land-based thrills, you can’t beat the extensive network of mountain-biking trails around the Vail Valley.
For a more leisurely activity, the Gold Medal Waters of Gore Creek are prime for fly fishing. Cast your line in search of trout while you take in the serene mountain surroundings. Looking to tee off? Vail Golf Club boasts stunning views of the towering Gore Range and is open to the public for 18 holes.
Make your way to the mountaintops for some truly elevated experiences. Epic Discovery at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola has everything from a mountain coaster and bungee trampoline to a climbing wall and tubing. To take your zen to new heights, Mountain Top Yoga is offered most Saturdays on the Mid-Vail deck.
Signature events: Immerse yourself in the cultural highlights of Vail Jazz Festival, Bravo! Vail Music Festival and Vail Dance Festival. Find more can’t-miss summer events.
Fall Foliage: A Symphony of Colors
Why you’ll love it: Leaf peeping in Colorado is an unforgettable adventure.
When autumn arrives in Vail, the mountains surrounding the town transform into brilliant shades of gold and red, and there are numerous ways to get up-close to the vibrant foliage. Hiking one of Vail’s many trails into stands of aspen trees is a mesmerizing experience on a clear, crisp day. A scenic gondola ride affords a bird’s-eye view of the autumn colors and excellent photo ops.
For a more rugged outing, try a Jeep or ATV tour to venture across the backcountry, where you’ll find varied topography and breathtaking vistas. Or, jump in the saddle and ride through the fall foliage on horseback. Stables and ranches in the area offer guided tours worthy of any fall bucket list.
Autumn is also a great time to swing by the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show on Sundays through early October in Vail Village. Dozens of vendors sell made-in-Colorado artisan items, food and crafts. Snack on tasty treats as you peruse the tents to find the perfect souvenir.
Winter Wonderland: Hit the Slopes
Why you’ll love it: World-famous skiing and other snowy pursuits.
Vail’s enchanting winter season draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world. With an average snowfall of over 200 inches annually, Vail boasts some of the best ski slopes in the United States. But there are plenty of things to do in Vail in the winter if you’re not into schussing or shredding, too.
Whether you’re a beginner learning the basics or an expert seeking black diamond runs, Vail’s ski and ride offerings cater to everyone. Improve your technique during a lesson with world-class instructors or head out to the seven legendary Back Bowls. If you want to be extra prepared, start a training regimen ahead of winter to build up your strength.
Speeding down a mountain isn’t for everyone, but snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great alternatives to explore snowy terrain. Vail Nordic Center is your homebase for Nordic skiing, where you can rent equipment, take lessons and book tours. Go at your own pace as you traverse quiet landscapes away from crowds.
Fat-tire biking is a unique way to navigate the snow, with oversize tires and wide rims to ensure stability. There are miles of groomed, fat-bike-only trails for both beginners and experienced riders. For a quintessential winter encounter, the ice-skating rinks at Solaris Plaza and The Arrabelle at Vail Square are especially charming at night.
Signature event: A dazzling display of illuminated ice sculptures transforms the Gore Creek Promenade during the month-long Vail Winterfest in January.