Vail Day Trip: Minturn

Nestled along the Eagle River near Vail, Minturn has retained its old-time charm.

You’ve got to love a town where you can stroll down Main Street in your slippers, enroute for your first cup of coffee.

That’s Minturn: relaxed, comfortable, friendly.

Located just five minutes down I-70 from Vail, Colo., this cool little enclave first came on the scene during Eagle County’s mining boom in the late 1800s and was essentially a railroad division point. The town has a traditional main drag dotted with shops, casual restaurants and galleries. Nestled aside the Eagle River, the historic homes, quaint shops and family atmosphere help retain its old-time charm.

If you are looking for an alternative to the high style and glitz of Vail Village or Beaver Creek, settle in to Minturn. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find.

Down Home Restaurants

The Minturn Saloon, tel. 970-827-5954. Its motto is, “If John Wayne didn’t drink it, we don’t make it.” Expect super-sized Mexican food, including home made chips and salsa, in a turn-of-the-century brick building on the town’s north end. Its frothy margaritas were responsible for my father’s decision to buy a condo in Vail and were served up at my pre-wedding party. It’s good, affordable fun for the whole family. But know this quirky joint fills up fast on weekend, so plan accordingly.

The Minturn Country Club, tel. 970-827-4114, Grill your own steak, chicken or fish, then challenge the kids to a game of shuffleboard. On Main Street.

The Minturn Inn, tel. 970-827-9647; 800-646-8876, This charming Bed and Breakfast is also on Main Street. The restored 1915 home sits along the Eagle River and some rooms enable guests to fall asleep to the sounds of tumbling water. Rates vary by season and room. Children must be 12 or older.

The Minturn Mile

Considered a local “secret”, this unofficial ski run drops 2,000 feet from Vail’s Game Creek Bowl along a backcountry trail and dumps onto Taylor Street on the north end of town, a short hike to a nearby watering hole. The incentive and destination for most who attempt it is a margarita or cold beer at The Minturn Saloon.

While the route shows up on some ski maps, it still retains a hint of mystery. Descriptions of the skill level required to make your way to the Saloon also vary. Narrow and fairly steep, the ability to make tight turns or to hold a strong snow plow seems to be essential. Ask around if you want to take the plunge!

Radio Free Minturn

Indicative of the town’s engaging spirit, locals recently launched the valley’s first and only commercial free, public radio station. In a little more than a year, RFM 107.9 RFM has become the second most popular station in the Vail Valley, according to an independent study. Rumor has it that guest DJs are welcome. Find out more:

Minturn Market

Enjoy the outdoor farmer's market that draws more than 45,000 people each year. Browse every Saturday of the summer for fresh flowers, home baked treats and local crafts. Saturdays in December, strolling carolers, open fire pits, cookie decorating and holiday arts and crafts can be found at this family-focused event. Special guest: Santa.


Minturn is surrounded on three sides by the Holy Cross Wilderness, a national forest, and the mighty Eagle River. There are hundreds of hiking and biking trails in every direction. For more information and trail maps, check out

For more information on Minturn in general, visit

Destinations: Colorado, Minturn, Vail

Themes: Family Travel