Best Things to Do in Vail, Colorado in Summer

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North America’s biggest and most popular ski resort, Vail is an alpine village in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Long a favorite of serious skiers, Vail now also draws a younger, hipper snowboarding crowd. Skiing is king at Vail Mountain and the Blue Sky Basin, but the area’s vast splendor is perfect for hiking, biking, snowmobiling or scenery-gazing at any time of the year. Make sure to read all the amazing reviews about Vail on TripAdvisor ( )

On top of our fantastic skiing and snowboarding, Vail offers year-round activities for the whole family. Embrace your adventurous side and explore our immaculate nature trails on foot, on bike, or even on horseback. When you get back take some time to nourish your soul with our diverse range of cultural events such as theater productions, art shows, and other educational activities.

We have put together some of the best activities you can enjoy doing in Vail in summer.

Enjoy a Beautiful Walk at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

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You will find the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens nearby the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at the foot of Vail Mountain. The garden is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. Admission is free, but you might want to bring along some souvenir money for the gift shop. You can learn more about the gardens and see a calendar of events by visiting the official website.

Take a walk down the creek or a stroll through the gardens and be sure to grab a brochure! Self-guided pamphlets will give you special insights about the plants that you can find at the gardens. Discover the unique adaptations of the plants and the role they’ve played in history. From being transported around the world, to their importance to Native Americans, every plant here has a story.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offers a variety of family-friendly activities. Families can sign up for guided hands-on activities that explore the beautiful environment surrounding Vail. Families looking for a self-guided experience can come to our Children’s Garden which is a great place for children to discover and play!

Discover these amazing botanical gardens in the family-friendly Children’s Garden. Activities engage children’s creativity while also being a great place to stop for the whole family. Stop by the Discovery Cart to check out what the daily self-guided activity is. Hang out in the shade in our rocking chairs, perched over Gore Creek.

Let the kids play in Betty’s Market or head into the Schoolhouse Gift Shop to find many garden-inspired keepsakes.

Visit Piney River Ranch

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Piney River Ranch is Vail’s premier Rocky Mountain adventure destination and a wedding venue. This year it is expected to open for the 2021 Summer Season on June 21st, 2021

The view has astonished people for years; the experience is gorgeous enough to match it. Piney River Ranch is a breathtaking site for any high country event. Their Wedding Deck reaches out over the shimmering waters of Piney Lake at the base of the striking Gore Mountain Range, the perfect vista for a truly memorable event.

The Ranch offers activities that all of your guests can enjoy including canoeing, hiking, horseback riding and fishing. So whether you’re planning an elaborate wedding, a Rocky Mountain retreat or a daylong family excursion, Piney River Ranch is equipped with the quality and exquisite beauty to make any event as memorable as the occasion itself.

From June 21st through the last weekend in September, Piney River Ranch is more than just a quiet place to kick back in front of a spectacular view. In fact, we offer an array of activities at the ranch, on the water, and in the thousands of acres of backcountry that surrounds us. From canoeing on Piney Lake with the family, fly-fishing on the Piney River, or hiking to Piney Falls we’ve got an adventure for everybody.

Camping at the Piney Lake

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At the crossing of Piney River there is a large, open area and just after crossing the river, there’s a trailhead parking area that could serve for car-camping. Along the two mile stretch of road after that crossing that leads up to the ranch, there are now a limited number of primitive site opportunities. Read more at

Hiking, Upper Piney River Falls Trail

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Upper Piney River Falls Trail is a 5.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Vail, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

This trail is located about a 45 mins drive up a 2 lane dirt road with lots of rocks and bumps. Once you get up to the ranch you see the beautiful lake. The hike starts at the lake and is 3 miles in one way. Once you hit the conifer Forrest you have about 30 mins hike until you get to the waterfalls. Enjoy the breathtaking views! For additional info visit

Fishing at the Piney Lake

Piney Lake is a longtime Colorado favorite destination for lake fishing. Nestled at the base of the remote and rugged Gore Range and surrounded by the Eagle’s Nest wilderness, Piney Lake is the trout-laden gem of Eagle County.

Piney River Ranch anglers can chase almost every species of trout found in Colorado (Brookies, Browns, Cutthroat, and Rainbow trout), in almost every way imaginable. Knowledgeable, professional staff will facilitate activities, from shore fishing to canoes and stand-up paddle boards.

They do not rent fishing poles or any type of fishing equipment. Guests are more than welcome to bring their own equipment.

Please note: Fishing Licenses are required as this is a private lake.

Horseback Riding

Along the trail, you’ll enjoy views of the surrounding mountain peaks, the pristine Piney River, wildflower meadows, and fields of beautifully forested Aspen trees. You may also catch a glimpse of our wildlife, including moose, elk, and deer. For more in for, please visit


The two-hour ride is a very relaxing and exciting experience as you make your way through the Piney River Valley, taking in the fantastic views along the trail. Rides, scheduled throughout the day, by demand, depart from and conclude at the ranch.

If your time is limited, the one-hour ride offers you a similar experience lasting half as long. You will still be able to enjoy the beauty of the Piney River area while not impacting the rest of your itinerary.

The rides are scheduled daily at 10am and 2pm. Please note we only have one wrangler so if a group has pre-booked the 1 hour ride at a particular time, then that is the ride that will be available.

Take a ride on the Vail Gondola

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Although Vail gondola and chairlifts are mainly used during the winter months to shuttle skiers and snowboarders to high-elevation powder stashes, the lift service is also a fun and exciting way to see the area and terrain during the summer.

Enjoy breathtaking views while the gondola whisks you up above 10,000ft.

Riding the Vail gondola in the summer is an entertaining way to see a unique view of Vail Valley, and you’re surrounded by the New York, Gore and Sawatch Mountains. Once at the top you can take a short hike, enjoy lunch and snap a few photos of the breathtaking scenery. After enjoying the many splendors at the top, you can either climb back into the gondola for the ride back down or hike back to the base on marked trails.

Location: The Vail gondola is located on Lionshead Circle in Vail, in the heart of the pedestrian neighborhood.

Contact: The activities desk phone number is 970-476-9090.

Kids 12 and under ride FREE with an adult purchase of a Scenic Ride Ticket; allowing the whole family to experience magical views of the Vail Valley and access to Epic Discovery – Vail’s #1 family activity!

Purchase gondola tickets online or stop in the Summer Ticket Office across from the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead or Gondola One in Vail Village.

Season Passes for the 2020/2021 Winter season are available now! Buy your Season Pass to receive free scenic gondola rides, discounted mountain biking, and access to Vail next winter!

Be adventurous! Go Rafting

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Within a few short miles of Vail lies some of the best whitewater river rafting in Colorado. Don’t miss out on experiencing an outstanding Colorado rafting trip, the memories from which will last a lifetime!

From Vail, rafting trip options include full, half-day and short trips for beginner and intermediate rafters as well as Colorado rafting trip options for hardcore, expert-level whitewater enthusiasts. The Colorado Adventure Center rafting trips are appropriate for all ages and skill levels. Whitewater river rafting near Vail can be an ideal family activity or the perfect team building and leadership training activity for business meeting and convention attendees. Most of all, a Vail, Colorado rafting trip is great fun!

Book your rafting trip with one of Vail’s rafting companies and learn more about the difference between the classes of rapids in Vail’s surrounding waterways.

Looking for more information for on-water activities in Vail? Learn more here.

Also, do not forget to checkout TripAdvisor reviews here

Go Biking in Vail

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What summer vacation to Vail or Beaver Creek is complete without the requisite bike ride? Whether you’re on fat tires or a cruiser, an e-bike or a road bike, taking a 2-wheel summer spin to experience the beauty of the Vail Valley is highly recommended.

There are plenty of hills for thrills, paved paths for families, and a variety of mountain, road, and e-biking terrain for all types of biking enthusiasts.

Mountain Biking

If you are itching to sample some sweet singletrack trails, you’re in the right place. Mountain biking is about as synonymous with Colorado as skiing is, and Vail has well over 300 miles of incredible mountain bike trails. You can also get extensive trail information through the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association. We also highly recommend consulting with the Colorado Trail Explorer app (CORTEX) beforehand to see whether trails are currently open and accessible as temporary closures do take place. You can download the free app to your mobile device, here or MTB Project.

Cruiser Biking, Road Biking and E-biking

You do not need to be rocking a Schwinn with a basket to enjoy these paved trails. E-bikes and pedal assists are becoming more popular than Peloton and road bikes are always a favorite.

Eagle County has over 58 miles of paved recreational paths that are perfect for e-biking, road biking, or just cruising. Stick to these blacktop options if you are on an E-bike, as class 1 and 2 e-bikes are not permitted on Vail Mountain or on other U.S. Forest service trails that are not designated for motorized use.

Here is a helpful map to give you the lay of the land of some of these extensive paved paths. If you are on a mountain bike, you can veer off the path system to one of many connecting trails for adjacent mountain bike options.

Hiking in Vail

Vail summer activities offer miles of scenic hiking trails for all ability levels. Explore the wildflowers, catch a glimpse of wildlife, and enjoy the amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Vail Mountain offers numerous hiking trails to be explored, both by foot or by Gondola.

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With spring weather right around the corner, it’s time to hit the trails! Let’s dust off those trail shoes, grab your favorite buff, and enjoy the extensive hiking trails of the Rocky Mountains in Vail and Beaver Creek. Here are 3 of the best hikes in Vail.


You can either choose to hike about 1 ½ hours to the gleaming falls or for those looking for more of a challenge, continue another 2 hours to the lake! After about 2 miles, you’ll come to a 60-foot waterfall, and further on, you will hike through subalpine meadows and spring and summer wildflowers. At various stages, you’ll be hiking alongside the creek.

Difficulty: The hike to the waterfall is rated moderate and continuing to the lake is rated more difficult.


A wonderful hike for those looking for a workout! The trail is steep, but the reward is the chance to hike amongst waterfalls, streams, glacier-carved granite, wildflowers and if you are lucky, butterflies! The trail is named after Colorado Governor Frederick W. Pitkin who served in the late 1870s. Difficulty: Most difficult.


These 2 hikes share the same trailhead but are quite different in difficulty. After about 4 miles, the Gore Creek trail will take you to the graves of the Recen brothers. They were 2 young men who came to Colorado in 1876 in search of gold and silver, and they found it! They named the mine they found “Queen of the West” and it afforded them a luxurious lifestyle until the 1893 silver crash when they became penniless. Much of the trail runs alongside Gore Creek and meanders through grassy slopes and aspen groves. There are some steep sections as well as fairly flat areas. Difficulty: Moderate

Deluge Lake – This is a challenging climb, but beautiful and has a feeling of isolation. It traverses a steep, south-facing hillside for about 3 miles and then turns north into Deluge Creek. From here you have views to the Sawatch Range and Mount of the Holy Cross. Difficulty: Most difficult


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From hiking in the summer to skiing in the winter, there is always something to do in Vail Valley. Countless special events, the highest botanical gardens in the world and an amazing outdoor amphitheater you will never be bored. With diverse shops and restaurants, luxurious accommodations, friendly neighborhoods and breath-taking mountain views, Vail is the finest resort destination in the world. Vail is definitely a great place to live or visit.