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An aerial view of a river in the middle of a forest in Vail.

The Stories of Vail

Did you know…?

Pirateship Park

Ahoy, matey! The Pirateship Playground was once in danger of being swept out to sea – or at least into oblivion. The original playground ship and its surroundings were destined to be torn down in 2004.

Brimming with nostalgia, Vail residents of all ages protested the removal of the playground loudly enough for the Town of Vail to have a new one built. The old one, which is believed to have been built in the 1970s, still had to go. It was nowhere near meeting the current industry standards for playgrounds. The new one does.

The ship was designed by boat-loving artist Ty Gillespie and constructed by Valley Fabricators in the nearby town of Minturn. And Pirate Ship Playground is just one of the unique playgrounds in Vail.

What’s so Unique About Vail Playgrounds?

Vail is one of the few municipalities anywhere in the world that custom designs and builds its own playgrounds. That means each playground gets personalized TLC instead of a one-size-fits-all standard play area. In most cases, an artist is included as part of the design team to inspire new ideas. Their artistic concept evolves into play structures and whimsical elements that give each playground its own memorable vibe.

How About Some Examples?

Sure thing! You can check out:

Ford Park and Playground

  • Location: 646 Vail Valley Drive, Vail
  • Highlights: Custom playground with everything but the kitchen sink; Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Gore Creek, more

Donovan Park and Playground

  • Location: West of Lionshead in Cascade Village area
  • Highlights: Amazing wood playground structures with swings, twisty slides, bridges, and 50 acres of other fun stuff

Sunbird Park

  • Location: 555 East Lionshead Circle, Vail
  • Highlights: Three giant, cocoon-like birds’ nests with connecting slides and bridges; jumping fountains

Cloud Park

  • Location: Between Vendetta’s and The Lodge at Vail
  • Highlights: Clouds for kids to climb on and around, complete with hanging chimes for making their own music

Red Sandstone Park

  • Location: 715 N Frontage Rd W, Vail
  • Highlights: Towering forts, slides, swings; sand volleyball court

Bighorn Park

  • Location: 4800 Juniper Lane, Vail
  • Highlights: Playground packed with tons of fantastic structures; small pond; off-leash dog area

Booth Creek Park

  • Location: Manns Ranch Road, Vail
  • Highlights: Massive climbing structure filled with secret nooks for hiding out, or even making your own music; covered picnic shelter and a big span of grass

We could go on and on! Explore more at the Parks in Vail page.

There’s More? Whoa! Don’t People in Vail Do Anything but Go to Parks?

Sure we do. We have a boatload of summer activities!

Vail Parks Info by the Numbers

  • 8,400: Weight (in pounds) of the steel pirate ship in Pirate Ship Park
  • 30,000: Budget (in dollars) for building the new Pirate Ship Park in 2004
  • 25: Length (in feet) of the new pirate ship
  • 8: Number of neighborhood parks
  • 2: Number of community parks, which would be Donovan Park and Ford Park

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Ahoy, me Hearties! Once you're done swabbing the deck, it's time weigh anchor and set sail. There's plenty of other parks in Vail to explore. Interested in learning more about what makes Vail a dream destination? Stay connected with us through our newsletter!
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