The state of Colorado is known for its many iconic mountain towns, and rightly so. How can you deny the Rocky Mountain state known for its legendary mountain status and endless miles of peaks over two miles high and beyond?
There is one town in particular that sets itself apart from the rest. That town goes by the name of Vail. This town is positioned in the central portion of Colorado and is surrounded by the White River National Forest. Vail is nestled at an elevation of 8,125 ft. and has a population of about 81,000.
In this write-up, I will deliver the inside scoop on adventure, food, and lodging that fully tap into what this beautiful mountain town has to offer.
The food can make or break a mountain town. I’m here to tell you that Vail does not disappoint in this category. Please do yourself a favor and swing by these delicious foodie joints.
- Vintage – Known for its stellar brunch menu. Notable dishes are their pancakes and an array of benedict versions on the menu. Sign me up!
- Alpine Burrito Company – This place offers fantastic burritos and bowls of all kinds. The perfect and hearty fuel before you embark on your adventures for the day!
- Little Diner – this classic foodie joint serves breakfast all day. You can’t beat that! Plus, their extensive menu makes it so you never run out of options.
Where to Stay
- Lionshead Village – This is a solid location to stay in if you are a first-time comer to the town of Vail. You are also close to the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Born Free Express Lift. The only downside to staying in this village is the price tag since you are right in town.
- Golden Peak – If you are after a bit of tranquility and quietness, this is the area you might want to explore. Golden Peak is situated at the base of the Riva Bahn Express lift. This place gives you superb access to observe and watch ski racing competitions if that is something you are into. Despite being a little out of town, you are still only a 5 to 10-minute walking distance from Vail.
- Vail Village – This village has just about everything you need to get off the ground and running. So think of shops of all kinds, gift shops, restaurants, and beyond. Most vital is seamless access to the many ski lift launching points. What makes Vail Village so accessible is its small mountain town feel and aesthetic nature. This fact keeps the stress at bay when adjusting and coming to a new place. The biggest drawback here is the price since you are right in the heart of it all.
When it comes to hiking in Vail, all of the hikes you can do in this area deserve being mentioned here. With that said, these three treks will give you a newfound appreciation and understanding of this place.
- Booth Falls Trail – This 4ish mile out and back with ~1400 ft of elevation gain affords you views of this beautiful waterfall with a 60-foot drop. It starts with a steady climb for about a mile and then begins to level out as you approach the falls. If you feel extra spry, you can take the Booth Falls Trail even further up to Booth Lake topping you out at around 11,500 ft. This trek is about ten miles (out and back) with around ~3000 ft of elevation gain. Keep in mind that using this trail enters the Eagle Nest Wilderness, which has specific regulations to conserve and protect this wild place. Please be mindful, respectable, and embody #leavenotrace on your trek.
- Upper Piney River Falls (starts at the Piney River Ranch area) – This ~6-mile out-and-back easy-going trail with a modest ~725 ft of elevation gain gives you breathtaking views of the Gore Range. On this trek, you will also discover some beautiful mountain meadows and all kinds of other mountain vegetation and evergreens. Remember that the mountain road to Piney River Ranch is a haul and will take some time. Allow at least 45 minutes to get there (depending on road conditions and vehicle capabilities).
- Notch Mountain – Nestled in the Sawatch Mountain Range (Holy Cross Wilderness), this ~10.2 mile moderate to challenging trek (via the Fall Creek trail) with a healthy ~2750 ft of elevation gain grants you award-winning views of the Mount of the Holy Cross! You top out at around ~13,100 ft, which is where this unique stone hut was established in the 1920s (it still stands today!). Take note; this is considered a Colorado 13er. Please do your part in being adequately acclimatized to the altitude and prepared for all conditions at this elevation.
While there are endless options to choose from and do here in Vail, I feel these suggestions will give you a superb feel and taste of Vail and hopefully keep you coming back for years to explore deeper and further in this spectacular Colorado mountain town!