VAIL MOUNTAIN’S EPIC DISCOVERY IS BACK ON TAP, WITH MOUNTAINTOP ADVENTURE FROM HIGH-SPEED COASTERS TO PEACEFUL HIKES IN THE WOODS.
Catch a bird’s-eye view atop an adventure course at Vail. PHOTO BY ANDREW MAGUIRE/COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
THERE’S A SAYING AMONG MOUNTAIN TOWN LOCALS: “I came for the skiing but stayed for the summers.” Truth is, Vail Mountain is a spectacular destination for a warm-weather adventure. Beginning in June, Vail’s Epic Discovery (vail.com/epicdiscovery) offers thrill-seekers an adrenaline rush with mountain coasters, summer tubing, bungee trampolines and rock climbing walls. On the Holy Cross adventure course, don a harness and helmet and thread your way through an obstacle course constructed of ropes, bridges and logs. You’ll have to wait until next year to take on the zip line. This summer, the resort will be installing a new six-pack chairlift in Game Creek Bowl, the site of Vail’s most expansive zip line canopy tour.
Perhaps better than flying above the trees is walking intentionally through them. As part of Epic Discovery, Vail partners with the Walking Mountains Science Center, which offers free interpretive hikes led by naturalists. Choose from a leisurely nature hike at 1pm or a longer, more strenuous trek at 10:30am (advance registration required). Located in a yurt at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola, the Nature Discovery Center is Walking Mountains’ base camp. Here you’ll find an array of wildlife exhibits, artifacts and hands-on displays. “We have stuffed animals, pelts, skulls and an assortment of scat (read: animal poop), which is everyone’s favorite!” says Walking Mountains’ Paul Abling. “We update wildlife displays every season so visitors can learn something new.” On the hikes, you’ll discover things like how the white powder on aspen bark can serve as sunscreen, though only with SPF 5. (Who knew?)
One of the simplest pleasures in summer is a scenic gondola ride, available from both Vail and Lionshead villages. Depending on your gondola of choice, you can fortify yourself at either Mid Vail or Eagle’s Nest with nibbles and cocktails with a view.