- Hiking, Parks and Gardens Type
- Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
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Straddling the Arkansas River about 30 miles south of Vail, the Holy Cross Wilderness Area makes for a great daytrip during the warmer months. Encompassing an impressive 122,797 acres of rugged Colorado scenery – including jagged mountains, lush valleys and verdant aspen forests – the park is home to 164 miles of hiking and biking trails. Just make sure to bring your camera: You're sure to come in contact with a few elk.
Recent visitors recommended the 7-mile Missouri Lakes/Fancy Pass Loop, which offers a scenic route through alpine lakes and towering evergreens. Start your trek at the Missouri Creek Trailhead, just down the road from the Fancy Creek Trailhead. The Vail Recreation District also offers a variety of guided hikes through Eagles Nest and Holy Cross. You can make reservations in advance on the Vail Recreation District website.
The Holy Cross Wilderness Area is open to visitors year-round; however, this park is subject to heavy snowfall during the colder months, so wintertime visitors should be extra cautious about not getting lost in the snow. While you don't have to pay to explore Holy Cross, you will have to register for a free permit before beginning your hike. To get to Holy Cross from Vail, start out on Interstate 70 and then take the Minturn exit. The Homestake or Tigiwon Forest Service roads are the most popular access roads. For more information, visit the wilderness area's website.