Description - The Vail Area provides a wide variety of attractions, many of which are located on the public lands of the White River National Forest. These attractions range from the resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, to wilderness areas in the Holy Cross and Eagles Nest Wildernesses.
Copyright: Zander Higbie-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Looking up the Homestake Valley from Blodgett Campground
- A section of the Tenth Mountain Hut System is located to the east and south of Vail. Camp Hale, a World War II winter training site now on the National Register of Historic Places, is located south of Minturn. To the north of Vail, the area is virtually unpopulated. This area includes Piney Lake, the Piney River and Sheephorn Creek drainages and the Eagle's Nest Wilderness.
Recreation - The Vail Area has over 200 miles of Forest Service trails. These trails offer a variety of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and in the winter, cross-country skiing.
Six developed Forest Service campgrounds are located in the area. These campgrounds offer varying levels of services. Backcountry and dispersed camping opportunities also exist. Be sure to follow the backcountry and dispersed camping regulations, and 'Leave No Trace' principles to ensure the next visitor an equal experience.
Downhill skiing is overwhelmingly the most popular winter recreation activity in the area. The other very popular winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. The Tenth Mountain Hut System provides a hut-to-hut trail system for cross-country skiing. Great snowmobiling exists in many of the non-wilderness portions of the area. The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area includes many of the most heavily used snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.
Climate - Elevations range from 7,200 feet to 14,005 feet on Mount of the Holy Cross. Vegetation includes sagebrush meadows at lower elevations, aspen and lodgepole pine at intermediate elevations, Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir forests above about 10,000 feet, and alpine tundra at the highest elevations.
In the valley bottoms, around the towns of Vail and Minturn, summer high temperatures extend into the low 80s, with cool evenings that can often dip into the 30s. Winter lows occasionally dip to minus 35 degrees, though daytime temperatures are often in the 20s to 30s. The relative humidity is quite low throughout the year. The average annual precipitation is about 30 inches and much of it comes in the form of winter snow. In the higher elevations, significantly lower temperatures and more precipitation can be expected. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are common. Snow is possible at any time of year in the highest elevations. The high elevation roads and trails are often not clear of snow until at least mid-July.
The Vail Area is located about 100 miles west of Denver. It includes the upper Eagle River Valley, the northern extent of the Sawatch Mountain Range and the western flank of the Gore Range. Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff, and Avon and Edwards are the primary towns in the area.