Vail: Planning Tips for Family Summer Vacations
Sweet Summer in the Vail Valley
Our expert offers her inside tips for a few of the myriad outdoor adventures available to sportsmen and women of all ages during a Vail summer vacation.
You will often hear it said that people come to Vail for the winter and stay for the summer. It makes sense. With plenty of sunshine and clear mountain air, every day is a play day.
For those on a family vacation, there is so much going in the villages of Beaver Creek and Vail that it would be easy to go no further than a spa or to ride bikes with the kids to the miniature golf center near your hotel to keep the young ones entertained. But I encourage you to journey into the backcountry to find what really inspires those who make the Vail Valley their home.
This mountain community is home to a long list of impressive trout streams. Your best bet is to hook up with a local guide and take his or her advice on the best place to lay your line. My family has fished just about every river and several high mountain lakes and always had a good experience.
Some day trips with a guide may include fishing on the Eagle River along I-70. Last summer, my son and I went out with a guide from Gore Creek and we were initially disappointed to be fishing within a half mile of the freeway. Yet before the day was over we landed numerous beautiful trout and forgot all about the road. Decide which will be more important to you—high mountain ambience or the best bet for the most productive fishing day—then let your guide suggest your destination.
Gore Creek Fly Fisherman. Offers free daily casting clinics at 10:30 a.m. during the peak summer season. www.gorecreekflyfisherman.com
Fly Fishing Outfitters. The Vail area’s only Orvis Dealer and Orvis Endorsed Guide Service. Locally owned. www.flyfishingoutfitters.net
Half day trips start at $225; full days begin at $325. License, flies and gratuity not included.
Enjoy an easy trail ride, a half-day outing through aspen groves and sage hillsides or something a little more unusual with Beaver Creek Stables. For those with family member who like riding and fishing, combine the two and head to Beaver Lake on horseback for an afternoon picnic, then fish the lake for trout. Children ages 7 and older are welcome.
The stable also makes it possible for toddlers to get comfortable in the saddle. We took our 3-year-old niece for a turn on the gentle ponies in the stable’s small corral. Best of all, it’s free.
Jeep or Hummer Tours
Get an up close look at the backcountry without the effort of riding or climbing to a high altitude. Take the whole family on an off-road Jeep or Hummer tour and you will enjoy beautiful wildflowers and extraordinary vistas. (We’ve used this outing as a great way to get outside when the group includes various ages and levels of fitness.) Take a sunset tour for the best chance of seeing wildlife—deer, elk, hawks, marmots and more. It’s important to stay hydrated in the high elevation, so bring your own water.