So, what are the keys to uncovering perfect photo ops in Vail? First, consider checking out some of the valley’s less-traveled spots. Even during the peak travel season, many tree-lined trails, riverside locales and relaxing getaways are quiet and free of crowds. That leads to tip No. 2: Help our community preserve the natural beauty and tranquility of the region. The best way to do that? Following Leave No Trace Principles to protect our ecosystems and wildlife. When you’re exploring the crisp green forests and bluebell-dappled meadows, photos are the best souvenirs, not flowers. Finally, don’t keep those snapshots to yourself! Be sure to share your experience and tag @DiscoverVailCO on Instagram to be featured on the official destination tourism account for Vail, Colorado.
BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN VAIL THROUGH THE SEASONS
How do you find the best photo spots in Vail? Well, the answer may vary depending on the season. Check out these picturesque places for summer, fall, winter and spring:
Summer: Shrine Ridge Trail for Wildflowers
Mid-summer is peak wildflower season — and Vail is considered one of the top places in Colorado to spot them. Take a trek to find the best blooms on one of the many trails throughout the Vail Valley. Our recommendation? Try the Shrine Ridge Trail, only a 25-minute drive from the Vail Village Welcome Center. This out-and-back trek features sprawling meadows with a kaleidoscope of petals, usually peaking in vibrance around July. As you wander along the peaceful paths, get some photos among the flowers. From beginning to end, this moderately challenging route spans 4.4 miles, ending at the summit of Shrine Mountain.
Summer: Epic Discovery
Ready to zip around Vail Mountain, bolt through pine trees and dart down an alpine crag? No? Well, then you can be the photographer. Grab your family and friends and head to Epic Discovery. There, you can spend a sunny day ziplining across canyons, strolling through the Nature Discovery Center, and rushing around the peaks on the famous Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster. These only-in-Vail attractions provide the perfect opportunity to snap hilarious shots of your kids having a blast. The park is typically open from mid-June through early September
Fall: Aspen-Lined Trails
When the air gets crisp and the knit sweaters come out, head to Vail for breathtaking golden hues. September is traditionally peak leaf-peeping season around Vail. So, that’s when to hike tree-lined paths for photos so gorgeous they’ll need a frame and a spot on the wall back at home. The North Vail Trail offers a 12-mile trail network, peppered with shaking stands of aspens that glow a brilliant yellow throughout autumn. Whether you hop on a bike to pedal around or simply stroll at a leisurely pace, keep your eyes on the foliage and your camera ready.
Fall: Fine Dining for Foodies
All that cool-weather leaf peeping will surely whet your appetite. Luckily, the cuisine in Vail is a feast for the eyes. Get mouth-watering pictures of perfectly plated meals at Vail’s best fine-dining restaurants. Try La Tour Restaurant, where you can feast on an exquisitely marbled Prime Manhattan Steak paired with buttery loaded scalloped potatoes and savory king trumpet mushrooms. Or find meaty delights (like the Cook’s Venture Chicken with creamy ricotta gnocchi and truffle jus) and vegetarian delicacies (like a tempura cauliflower steak with sweet pomegranate molasses and soft, milky labneh) at Slope Room and Flame Steakhouse.
Winter: Vail Covered Bridge
Once snowflakes start falling, skiers and snowboarders flock to Vail Village after a day shredding piles of powder. And when all those goggles, buffs and gear come off? Gather the family to nail down that holiday card! Beeline to the covered bridge, where you’ll be met with a tunnel of twinkling lights floating above the frozen Gore Creek. Every winter, this landmark gets decked out with a rainbow of bulbs and a thick buttercream frosting of snow, making it the best place to score a festive image. Once that’s checked off the list, take a 5-minute walk to Two Arrows Coffee Bar and order a round of their rich, marshmallowy hot cocoa (they’re open late to serve evening strollers).
Tip: Don’t forget to stop at the covered bridge if you come in the warmer months as well, it’s a can’t-miss photo op in Vail.
Winter: Vail Square Ice Rink
You can practically hear Charlie Brown holiday music playing in your head as you come across the Vail Square Ice Rink in Lionshead Village. First, snag some skate rentals, available in all sizes on-site. Then, amble onto the ice and start circling. With everyone bundled up in their winter jackets, scarves and mittens, this is an adorable place to bring the family for impromptu pics. Plus, surrounded by Bavarian-style buildings, it’ll be an unbeatable Insta photo.
Spring: Eagle’s Nest
In town for some spring skiing? Take a scenic gondola ride up to the Eagle’s Nest for sky-tickling panoramas 10,000 feet above sea level. The Eagle Bahn Gondola is not just a means to the summit; it’s a photo op all its own. Expansive views of the snow-quilted Vail Valley will be seen the whole way. When you get to the top, click your camera with Mount of the Holy Cross in the background. Visiting in summer? You can still ride the gondola or hike up the Gitalong, Cubs Way and Post Road trails to the summit.
Spring: Sonnenalp Spa
A spring vacation in Vail means warm sunshine and plenty of mashed-potato snow. Recover from your ski day (and capture the perfect après-ski spa photo while you’re at it) at Sonnenalp Spa’s O2 bar. High-elevation conditions can sometimes cause mild headaches, but don’t let that get in the way of your shred. The oxygen bar serves up concentrated O (in several “flavors”) to raise your blood oxygen saturation. If that’s not your thing, don’t worry. Check out the soothing facials, detoxifying massages and steamy hot tubs, too. Capture all those meditative moments with a pic in your face mask and robe.
Vail is a place for awe-inspiring adventure, iconic Bavarian architecture and majestic crag-covered overlooks. Regardless of the season, there are tons of photo-worthy places and activities throughout the Vail Valley. When you get the perfect shot, remember to follow and tag us @DiscoverVailCO and use #DiscoverVail to see more majestic mountain views and hear about happenings in the Vail Valley throughout the year.