Vail: Not Just a Ski Town

Summertime's when the Rockies shine.

Strolling the streets of downtown Vail.
  • Strolling the streets of downtown Vail.

Incorporated in 1962, the five-square-mile town of Vail, Colorado, was named for Charles Vail, the engineer who, in 1940, routed the highway that eventually became I-70 through the valley. It’s 100 miles west of mile-high Denver, and itself stands 8,000 feet above sea level. (Nearby Vail Mountain rises to 12,000 feet.)

Although Vail is home to one of the largest ski resorts in the States, summers there are spectacular. Hiking trails leak out of the village in every direction – and if they don't provide enough exercise, the Summer Mountain Games will. There are competitions in kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, climbing and long-distance running. And music and dance festivals are held throughout the summer at Vail’s 1,300-seat amphitheater.

Last summer, three friends and I sat on the lawn under the stars behind the parquet and, caressed by a balmy breeze perfumed by mountain flowers, watched a show of athleticism by the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The next day, my friends and I strolled through Vail's Alpine Gardens, amidst 2,000 varieties of plants, to a photogenic 120-foot cascade. With a worked-up appetite, we headed for the large, arts-and-craftsy Lancelot Restaurant on Gore Creek Drive. I can vouch for the salmon, glazed in mustard and served on a bed of green beans, roasted onions and asparagus. I drool to think of it.

After dinner, as we drove westward from Vail, down an incline toward the Eagle River, we watched an elderly gent in waders, fly-casting.

As we got close, the man stumbled, his waders filled with water and pulled him under. We screeched to a halt, rushed into the river, hauled the unconscious fellow onto the riverbank, and gave him CPR. An SUV roared up, a woman jumped out and screamed, “What are you doing to my father!? Get out of here!”

We got out of there. Thank goodness she saved him.

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Well, you have to understand; there are people from the cities going up to these resort areas and after an exciting day of skiing or hiking or rock climbing, a hot rock massage at the spa, and a nice vegan organic dinner, they are grabbing a senior citizen on their way out of town as a souvenir! I mean, something has to be done.

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