Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

#8 in Best Things To Do in Vail
John Ryan Lockman, ShowLove Media

Key Info

530 South Frontage Road East


Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Named for former President Gerald Ford, this outdoor performance venue plays host to some of Vail's most popular events, including the Vail Dance Festival and the Bravo! Vail music festival. However, according to previous audience members, what makes this amphitheater special is its setting on a hillside in the Rocky Mountains.

Recent visitors recommended bringing a blanket to sprawl out on the lawn in front of the stage, which reviewers say is the perfect spot to set up a picnic. You can bring your own food and drinks (except alcohol, which must be purchased on-site). Another upside to sitting on the lawn: the tickets are cheaper than those for the covered section of the amphitheater. A few other tips from past visitors: arrive early to score the best parking and the best spots on the lawn; bring a coat since it can get chilly once the sun goes down; and prepare for rain – the show goes on either way.

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is located near the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in central Vail. Performances are held on a regular basis during the warmer months. Ticket prices depend on the show and the type of seat. From June to August, the amphitheater also hosts the Hot Summer Nights free concert series, which takes place every Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit the amphitheater's website.

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#1 Vail Hiking

Though Vail's ski terrain receives much of the spotlight, the area's many hiking trails are just as impressive. If you've got a car, you may want to consider driving to Eagles Nest or Holy Cross – two wilderness areas with impressive trails well-suited for backpackers. If you're hoping to trek closer to town, you'll find several trails on Vail Mountain, accessible from the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Here, you'll find trails ranging from short 1-mile hikes (Eagle's Loop and Fireweed) to more intermediate treks (Berrypicker and Ridge Route). Though you will have to pay for the gondola ride ($36 for adults; free for children accompanying a paying adult), the hiking trails won't cost you a thing to access.

If you'd rather not pay the gondola fee, you'll find several hikes on National Forest Service land that are accessible via Vail's free bus system, including Bighorn Creek, Booth Creek, Deluge Creek, Gore Creek, and Pitkin Creek, among others. Recent visitors especially liked the Booth Falls Trail, which sits a little more than a mile from Interstate 70 in East Vail. It's a steep trail, but a favorite among travelers for its wildflowers, waterfalls and view of the Gore Range. You can also sign up for a guided hike of the area with an interactive hiking expert. For more details, visit the Vail resort website.

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