Mention Vail and skiing is first thing that comes to many folks minds. But if you’re not thinking about Vail as a warm weather destination, you’re missing out.
That mountain has earned quite a reputation in a relatively short time. Founded in 1962, Vail’s really not that old when you think about it. But even when it’s not covered in snow, the mountain doesn’t disappoint.
One of the best ways to see all that Vail Mountain has to offer is jumping aboard the Eagle Bahn Gondola. The scenic climb to 10-thousand, 350-feet takes about 10-minutes, but it feels much quicker. And you’ll be just as excited about the scenery on the way down, as you were on the way up.
Even in the summer, you need to be prepared for any type of weather. In 2019, the first full day of summer included a good dusting of snow. Traces of the late snowfall from the previous night could even be seen in Vail Village at 8150 feet. I was really glad I had good waterproof hiking boots on.
The views alone are worth the trip to the top of the mountain, but you might be surprised by what else is waiting up there as well. Along with activities like adventure courses, and ziplines, there’s a mountain coaster. It’s all part of what is called Epic Discovery. I’m not typically a coaster fan, but I was determined to give it a try. And when the ride was over, I got right back in the very short line and did it again. The Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster winds its way more than 3-thousand feet (3,400 feet) down the mountain. The views are stunning. My first go, I passed some deer munching on grass. Riders determine how fast or slow they go by moving handles forward to go fast or back to slow things down, so you can control the extent of your adrenaline rush.
There’s no shortage of hiking options in Vail, but if you’re okay with having some company on the trail, llamas are popular hiking buddies in these parts. In addition to the numerous photo opportunities, they can carry 80 to 100 pounds, so you can handoff that backpack without feeling guilty.
Paragon Guides takes care of all the details; they select a hike that fits your ability, and pack the picnic. It’s similar to walking a dog. The llamas are on a lead, but they don’t run in front. They’re happily content to follow along, taking the opportunity to snack on grass when they have the chance.
If the llamas don’t quite fill your vacation animal encounter fix, there’s always goat yoga at Vail Stables. I’m the first to admit, I was skeptical. The combination of yoga and goats just doesn’t make any sense, but it works. It’s not a sweaty workout, it’s an hour of smiling and laughing at goats that just want to nibble on everything. Pony tails, shoe laces, nothing is off limits, so choose your wardrobe carefully, because you may not want to wear it again until it gets a through washing.
For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann.
Dana’s trip was hosted by Vail, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.