Vail Hiking#1 in Best Things To Do in Vail
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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.
Wherever you decide to hike, remember to bring plenty of water and snacks (staying hydrated will help keep altitude sickness at bay). For some of the area's steeper trails, you'll also want to have a walking stick or pole to help with traction. Several Vail outfitters, including Paragon Guides, offer gear rental.
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#2 Vail Ski Resort
Boasting 5,289 skiable acres, a vertical drop of 3,450 feet and 31 lifts, the Vail Ski Resort is massive. And Vail's 195 trails cater to a wide variety of skiers, with well-tended slopes for novices and rugged runs for experts. But what's even more impressive is that all of this primo powder is found on one mountain, making this one of the largest single-mountain resort in the country. Across its terrain are four parks that range in difficulty from beginner to advanced, along with several upper alpine areas called bowls. After the snow has melted, the resort offers a bevy of summer activities, including hiking, biking, zip lining, alpine coasters, and the perennial traveler favorite, gondola rides up to Vail Mountain's summit.
Most recent skiers praised Vail's size and quality runs and its diverse range of mountain activities, including tubing, ski biking and snowshoeing – perfect if you've got travelers in your group who aren't up for skiing. Though reviewers lamented the high price tags for everything, they do concede that the experience is worth the money. To cut down on costs, recent travelers advised purchasing your lift tickets online (at least seven days in advance) and investing in a multiday pass to score a discount.
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