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Vail - Where to go? What to do? Without snow!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
My wife and I are escaping the kids for a long weekend up at Vail in a few days. I've never spent any significant time there for anything but skiing on the mountain so I really don't know the town. What things should we definitely do while we're there? What are some great restaurants, scenic hikes, etc.?

Thanks!
post #2 of 24
Can I suggest you go to Aspen instead? You won't regret it, especially if you're going this upcoming weekend. I was there the last two days, and the fall colors are unbelieveable. There isn't a shortage of things to do, either- and Vail isn't exactly "pretty" right now. If you need some motivation, check out my posting in this forum on the Aspen hiking TR... it'll convince you for sure.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
That would be my preference also, but we have a free room reserved for us at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa (connections through my wife's uncle). We actually tried to get a room in Telluride, but the "free" stuff was booked already.
post #4 of 24
Like you I'd only skied there and not spent any time in the villages/restaurants, until this summer when I went there twice for mtn. biking.

If you're sticking to Vail Mtn, hike/bike/ride the gondola up to Eagles Nest -- from there, hike/bike out towards Game Creek Bowl on the Grand Traverse trail. Great views of Mt. of the Holy Cross and away from the crowds. Might even spy deer (we stumbled across half a dozen of them while biking a few weeks ago).

Lost Lakes is supposed to be nice (off Red Sandstone Road, which is on the north side of I-70), as is the hike to Shrine Pass (trailhead near Vail Pass). Some good mtn. biking trails off RS Road.

Montauk's Seafood Grill (Lionshead) can be pricey, but they had a half-off-all-lobster-dishes when we were there. Don't know how much is open now, but walking around Vail Village could be interesting. Look on Vail's calendar of activities to see if they have anything going on whenever you'll be there.
post #5 of 24

What about Rocky Mountain National Park

Noodler:

Don't know if you'll have a car or not, but I was out visiting my son's family in Colorado Springs early October last year. We took a drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park, and stumbled on the fact that this was the time of year when the elk come down out of the hills in the evenings. More people parked along the edge of the road that I would have expected, but far from crowded. We adults probably loved it more than the kids, but we saw 4-5 herds (or whatever they are called) and a total of 40 elk. I would never have associated that noise with that size animal.

Also, since the snow is all gone, you can drive the loop all the way at the top of the park; and I believe there may be a rear entrance that is more convenient than going all the way around to Boulder and the front entrances. Lots of hiking trails (I wasn't very acclimated to the altitude) and lots of great scenery. I think Bear Lake is another hiking area even though thats not where we were.

Maybe some of the locals can provide more real information.
post #6 of 24
You can access RMNP from Grand Lake, by taking US40 West to Granby, then US34 East to Grand Lake. Expect it to be crowded. Especially around dusk and dawn, drive VERY defensively, as a deer too close to the headlights can ruin your day. If you go all the way to the East side, you can drive Old Falls River Road (one way going up hill), dirt road up to the Trail Ridge visitor center, passable by passenger car.

This time of year, you might see moose on the flats by the Colorado River between Grand Lake (a town and a lake) and Poudre Lake (just a lake).
post #7 of 24
Rent a bike and get a shuttle to the top of Vail pass. Then enjoy the ride down.

I'd also drive to Leadville up the road past Minturn, Red Cliff, and Ski Cooper. It's a beautiful drive. Along the way there is a place that rents jeeps for some off-road driving.
post #8 of 24
But don't expect anything in Leadville- a very plain town with not much going on except the views. Honestly, if you're going to drive, I'd go down to Leadville, then cut over on 82 up Independence Pass and over to Aspen. Even if you don't stop to hike around there (which you should at the Bells), its worth driving thru town and thru the Roaring Fork Valley. Then you can continue on to Carbondale, up to Glenwood, and back over to Vail. Its not a bad drive at all.
post #9 of 24
Some more hiking trails around Vail:

  • Lost Lake, Piney Lake (off Red Sandstone Road, as mentioned above).
  • Booth Lake, Pitkin Lake (both north of I-70, east of Vail).
  • Meadow Mountain (from Dowds Junction, west of Vail off I-70).
  • Mayflower Gulch (a little father east, on Highway 91, about 6 miles south off I-70).
One recommendation would be to go to say REI and take a look at the Trails Illustrated Topo Map (#108): Vail, Frisco, Dillon -- covers the area you'll be in and shows pretty much all the surrounding areas.

As noted above, if you stay within the resort itself, definitely head out on the Grand Traverse Trail -- almost no crowds and nice views (panorama below):
post #10 of 24
Minturn has a nice farmer's market on Saturdays.

Check out Vilar Center at Beaver Creek and see if any shows are going on.
post #11 of 24

Sweet Basil & The Big Easy Benefit

Sweet Basil is my favorite $$$$ restaurant in Vail.

Summer mountain operations for Vail is shut down. Gondola access to the mountain is no longer operating for the Summer Season. It's typical this time of year since it's the start of the shoulder season. Snowmaking crews will be hauling hoses and mountain winter ops is starting to gear up.

But your timing might turn out to be really good if you're going to Vail this weekend. There is an impromptu benefit this weekend at Vail's Ford Amphitheatre. It's being called BIG EASY BENEFIT It was orginally a Voices Of The Wetlands CD Release Party that was scheduled in Louisiana. Since Katrina, there are no more "wetlands" no pun intended. So, the show has been moved from Louisiana to Vail

This is going to be a pretty good show:
Coolio
Cyril Neville
George Porter
Anders Osborne
Tab Benoit
Hanry Butler
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
Waylon Thibodeaux
American Taxi
Tony G and Friends
Jumpin' Johnny Sansone
More...

This isn't on the Vail website since it's a last minute switcharoo. $30 bones for General Admission ...$45 for covered/reserved seating ...$250 for a private evening show with Dr John on Sunday evening with food, wine and beer incl.

I'll be there.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seven
Summer mountain operations for Vail is shut down. Gondola access to the mountain is no longer operating for the Summer Season. It's typical this time of year since it's the start of the shoulder season. Snowmaking crews will be hauling hoses and mountain winter ops is starting to gear up.
But they could still bike/hike up the trails on their own, right? Or are all the trails closed to foot/bike access because of snowmaking?
post #13 of 24

No mo' Farmers Market

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
Minturn has a nice farmer's market on Saturdays.

Check out Vilar Center at Beaver Creek and see if any shows are going on.
The last day for the Minturn Farmer's Market was 9/10. Shoulder Season means it's dead, dead, dead.
post #14 of 24

??

Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy
But they could still bike/hike up the trails on their own, right? Or are all the trails closed to foot/bike access because of snowmaking?
Great question. I don't know the answer.

...and it's not that simple to say that it's Natl. Forest and therefore we the public have a right to access the mountain.

For example, I DO know that some resorts have written in their National Forest special use permit that public access to the ski mountain is not allowed during the shoulder seasons in Spring and Fall.
This is done to reduce the mountain's liability for public injury as mountain maintenance operations are heightened.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
Can I suggest you go to Aspen instead? You won't regret it, especially if you're going this upcoming weekend. I was there the last two days, and the fall colors are unbelieveable. There isn't a shortage of things to do, either- and Vail isn't exactly "pretty" right now. If you need some motivation, check out my posting in this forum on the Aspen hiking TR... it'll convince you for sure.
I'd go to Crested Butte...although It could be mud season.

Vail is cool lots of camping. everything is nice
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by acsguitar
I'd go to Crested Butte...although It could be mud season.

Vail is cool lots of camping. everything is nice
Mud season is in the spring ...but I know what you meant.
post #17 of 24
Sounds tough Noodler, Doesn't seem to be much to do. Expect that gig at the Amphitheater.
May I suggest that you do a lot of heavy drinking and just lay around the room, then stumble around the village eating muffins and drinking coffee, read the local free rag and wish that you would have booked in Aspen.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seven
Sweet Basil is my favorite $$$$ restaurant in Vail.

Summer mountain operations for Vail is shut down. Gondola access to the mountain is no longer operating for the Summer Season. It's typical this time of year since it's the start of the shoulder season. Snowmaking crews will be hauling hoses and mountain winter ops is starting to gear up.

But your timing might turn out to be really good if you're going to Vail this weekend. There is an impromptu benefit this weekend at Vail's Ford Amphitheatre. It's being called BIG EASY BENEFIT It was orginally a Voices Of The Wetlands CD Release Party that was scheduled in Louisiana. Since Katrina, there are no more "wetlands" no pun intended. So, the show has been moved from Louisiana to Vail

This is going to be a pretty good show:
Coolio
Cyril Neville
George Porter
Anders Osborne
Tab Benoit
Hanry Butler
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
Waylon Thibodeaux
American Taxi
Tony G and Friends
Jumpin' Johnny Sansone
More...

This isn't on the Vail website since it's a last minute switcharoo. $30 bones for General Admission ...$45 for covered/reserved seating ...$250 for a private evening show with Dr John on Sunday evening with food, wine and beer incl.

I'll be there.
I heard Anders Osborne and Monk Boudreaux burn down the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco a couple of years ago. Incredible! You are in for a real treat.
post #19 of 24
Are you in really good shape and interested in a great 14'er? The trailhead to Holy Cross is just past Minturn, and it is perhaps one of the most beautiful and dramatic 14'er climbs I have done in CO. No technical skills required (do not consider the Cross or Angelica Couloir routes this time of year, which require ice axe and crampons in season, just the standard route, which is Class II), just great stamina and an alpine start (be on the trail by 6:30, allow 45 minutes from Vail to get to the trailhead, since the road is unpaved). It took me 4 hours up, 3 1/2 down, but you must consider the 1000ft of elevation that you must regain on the way out over Notch Mountain. Look at the Holy Cross page on www.summitpost.com for more details (click on "to the mountains" and type in "Holy Cross")

There is some nice hiking and mt. biking in Beaver Creek, if you are looking for something less difficult.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dp
Are you in really good shape and interested in a great 14'er? The trailhead to Holy Cross is just past Minturn, and it is perhaps one of the most beautiful and dramatic 14'er climbs I have done in CO.
Be aware that Holy Cross is a long, hard hike. There are a lot of shorter 14er hikes around, such as Mount Elbert (near Leadville), 9 miles and 4400' elevation gain, compared to 12 miles/5600' for the standard Holy Cross route. Not to be alarmist, but there's also a lost hiker on Holy Cross this week.

A shorter, but still interesting, hike from the same trailhead as Holy Cross is up Notch Mountain, which gives a great view of the "cross" face of Holy Cross.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy
Some more hiking trails around Vail:


  • Lost Lake, Piney Lake (off Red Sandstone Road, as mentioned above).
  • Booth Lake, Pitkin Lake (both north of I-70, east of Vail).
  • Meadow Mountain (from Dowds Junction, west of Vail off I-70).
  • Mayflower Gulch (a little father east, on Highway 91, about 6 miles south off I-70).
One recommendation would be to go to say REI and take a look at the Trails Illustrated Topo Map (#108): Vail, Frisco, Dillon -- covers the area you'll be in and shows pretty much all the surrounding areas.

As noted above, if you stay within the resort itself, definitely head out on the Grand Traverse Trail -- almost no crowds and nice views (panorama below):
Is that Sun Up Bowl without snow? Looks a lot like The Slot.
post #22 of 24
What you're looking at there is the beginning of the Minturn Mile, just south of Game Creek Bowl and just outside the ski area boundary.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne's lobotomy
Is that Sun Up Bowl without snow? Looks a lot like The Slot.
Actually, this was outside Vail's boundary, between Game Creek and Sundown Bowls, looking west/southwest. The Grand Traverse trail goes out of Vail's boundaries (or at least through an opening in a rope fence, which I assume is the resort boundary) as it exits Game Creek Bowl, and re-enters the resort (again, through the rope fence) just below Wildwood (overlooking Sundown Bowl). This shot was after exiting Game Creek Bowl but before getting to Wildwood.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy
Actually, this was outside Vail's boundary, between Game Creek and Sundown Bowls, looking west/southwest. The Grand Traverse trail goes out of Vail's boundaries (or at least through an opening in a rope fence, which I assume is the resort boundary) as it exits Game Creek Bowl, and re-enters the resort (again, through the rope fence) just below Wildwood (overlooking Sundown Bowl). This shot was after exiting Game Creek Bowl but before getting to Wildwood.
That is entirely correct. I jogged the Grand Traverse a couple of summers ago - sucking oxygen all the way!
And in the winter the opening that you mentioned is also the beginning of the Minturn Mile backcountry run. (Or you can hike up Ptarmigan Ridge to get some extra vertical.) The Minturn Mile follows the valley that you can see running out to the right of your picture - and ends at The Saloon.
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