Heavily influenced by some of Europe’s most enchanting villages and ski resorts, Beaver Creek, which is just one year shy of its 30th birthday, has always been renowned for its year-round outdoor escapades and fairy-tale landscape. From the cobalt blue skies and quaking aspen trees that fleck the trail-friendly hillsides to the world-class ski slopes that lure lovers of bumps, moguls, glades and groomed runs, Beaver Creek’s remarkable setting easily makes it one of the top resorts in the country. While most visitors to Beaver Creek plan their vacations around schussing down the slopes, the resort also rolls out numerous outdoor activities for those who aren’t extreme powder-pushers. There are complimentary family snowshoe tours from December to March, seasonal ice skating in the heart of Beaver Creek Village, dog sledding, cross-country skiing through McCoy Park and sleigh rides to Beano’s Cabin, an elegantly rustic restaurant that everyone should experience at least once. Come springtime, the village blooms with bargains—lift ticket prices drop, hotels and restaurants unleash great deals and the village boutiques dramatically slash their prices. The pace slows down, too, especially after spring break, which means the scenery is yours to steal while biking around the village or hiking along the trails of Beaver Creek Mountain. When summer settles in, the resort becomes a glorious sun-soaked wonderland of hobbies, pastimes and adventures. Visitors can tee off at award-winning golf courses, rise high above the sky in a hot air balloon, go horseback riding, play mini-golf, swim or even bounce on outdoor bungee trampolines. And annual alfresco events, like the Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival, which take place in the middle of the Beaver Creek Village, are another huge summer draw. Fall is perhaps the loveliest time of the year to visit Beaver Creek, thanks to the thickets of rustling aspen trees that glow amber and gold on the hillsides. It’s during the autumn months that guests can go river rafting, hike and mountain bike along meadowed trails or take advantage of the area’s superb fly-fishing. What’s the most complicated part about visiting Beaver Creek? Finding time to do everything the area off ers. Attractions Beaver Creek Mountain. Seventeen lifts speed you to runs on Beaver Creek’s 1,805 skiable acres, with 148 trails ranging from gentle cruising terrain to the impossibly steep Birds of Prey downhill course, considered one of the toughest race courses on the World Cup circuit. Freeriders have their own parks and a 400-foot-long halfpipe. A network of increasingly intense parks gives skiers and riders a chance to learn how to perform in parks and pipes, from the entry-level Park 101 to the daunting Beaver Creek Super Pipe. You can also have a European-style village-to-village ski experience on trails that link Beaver Creek to Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch villages. Up top is McCoy Park for Nordic skiing, with 20 miles of cross-country tracks and special trails designed specifically for snowshoeing. Beginners will find that Beaver Creek seems upside down, with prime beginner runs at the top, giving them a purer mountain experience. Experts will find the toughest terrain on the mountain at The Talons, three chairlifts that access exhilarating expert and extreme terrain. Beaver Creek Village. Just below the staging area for skiers, this elegant, compact village offers the latest conveniences in a charming alpine village setting. Walkways are heated in winter, and outdoor escalators take you right up to the chairlifts. The village has charming bronze statuary at every turn, creating an atmosphere unique to this resort town. The winding streets are packed with tempting eateries, shops and art galleries. Vail Mountain. Less than 15 minutes from Beaver Creek, Vail Mountain is accessible by frequent shuttle buses. Vail boasts an average of 365 inches of snow each year and 5,289 skiable acres accessed by 34 chairlifts. Its vast acreage and diverse slopes offer something for everyone, from beginner runs to some of the most challenging terrain around, including its famous deep-powder back bowls. These legendary powder stashes offer an unparalleled experience for purists—2,734 acres of chutes, glades and cornices. For boarders and freeskiers, Vail offers four terrain parks, including the massive Golden Peak Park, with an 18-foot-high superpipe, a tabletop, rails, jibs and an assortment of challenging features. The mid-mountain Adventure Ridge recreation area offers tubing, snowmobiling, ski biking and ice-skating, and it’s open at night. Vail Village. Vail Village is an idyllic resort town. Meandering at the foot of the massive ski mountain, it’s a picture-perfect postcard of a cozy Bavarian village, complete with a covered bridge and clock tower. Traffic is kept at bay, giving shoppers, skiers and strollers comfortable walkways to wander among the restaurants and luxury shops. Vilar Center for the Arts. This comfortable 530-seat, state-of-the-art theater, accessible by escalator from Market Square, hosts year-round events. Under Beaver Creek’s ice-skating rink. 970-845-8497 Ge rald R. Fo rd Amphit heate r Vilar Pavilion. Vail’s outdoor summer theater, shielded by a protective roof, is the cultural heart of the Vail Resort, offering an eclectic summer season that includes the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, pop and classical concerts, ballet, opera, comedy and drama. 970-476-2918 Bety Ford Alpine Gardens. Wander through this artfully landscaped garden of budding botanicals. With 500 well-tended species, it’s a living encyclopedia of highaltitude plants, trees and flowers. 183 Gore Creek Drive 970-476-0103 Colorado Ski & Sno wboa rd Museum. Fascinating displays recount the history of skiing and the story of the pioneering skiers of the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Transportation Center 231 South Frontage Road East, Vail 970-476-1876 Nature Discovery Center. Naturalists provide a variety of environmental programs during winter and summer seasons in an all-seasons yurt atop the mountain. It features an array of natural history exhibits and artifacts representing the life zones that make up Vail Mountain. Naturalists lead winter snowshoe tours and summer nature hikes that explore the mountain habitat. Next to Eagles Nest gondola, atop Vail Mountain 970-754-4675 Bea ver Cree k Nordi c Sports Center. The center offers 32 kilometers of groomed trails in McCoy Park (the only lift-served park of its kind in Colorado) for classic, skate ski and snowshoe adventures at the top of Chair 12. Strawberry Park Condo Building, below Chair 12, Beaver Creek 970-754-5210 Vai l Nat ure Cente r and Nordi c Center. In the summer, hikers can experience tranquil forest, meadow and stream environments and take part in a variety of educational programs. In the winter, the course becomes the Vail Nordic Center, offering snowshoe and cross-country tours. 1778 Vail Valley Drive, Seven miles of trails along the Vail Golf Course 970-479-2291; 970-476-8366 Dining The Vail Valley provides adventures in dining to match the adventures of the mountains. Restaurants in Beaver Creek, Vail, Avon and Edwards offer richly diverse cuisines—Thai, Japanese, French, Mexican, New American and Italian—that would hold their own in a metropolitan destination. Whether you’re looking for sushi, locally sourced foodstuffs like trout and elk medallions or a satisfying all-American burger, it’s all here and prepared with the quality and freshness befitting a world-class resort. The Vail Valley is also full of welcoming cafés and bakeries in which to sip a latte, nosh on a croissant or curl up with a book. Pizzerias and burger spots abound for a casual meal with family or friends. Want to sample a Colorado microbrew? The state lays claim to one the largest selections in the country. Sports Ice-skating. Show off your triple axel or simply skim along on the Market Square’s centerpiece outdoor ice rink in Beaver Creek, winter and summer. Vail has an Olympic-size indoor rink open to the public and outdoor skating at Adventure Ridge (winter only), reached via the Eagle Bahn gondola. Sno wshoein g. The top of Beaver Creek Mountain offers miles of trails just for snowshoe buffs. You’ll find more at the top of Bear Mountain. It’s a great way to wander into the wild without having to worry about perfect turns. Snowmobiling. Take off on your own or hitch a ride with a guide into some 80 miles of trails winding through the scenic White River National Forest. Guided trips offer tours from two hours to all day. Dogsleding. Morning and afternoon tours take participants through wide-open terrain abundant with wildlife. This is a favorite tour of families and couples searching for remote landscapes and adventure. Fishing. Fishing is king here year-round. In winter, bundle up and enjoy the quiet that you’ll find casting into waters when the crowds go away. Angling is great on the Eagle River, Colorado River and Gore Creek. With skill and a little luck, you can land browns, cutthroat and brook trout. Mountain Biking. Power up the mountain on your own or let Beaver Creek’s Centennial Express lift whisk you and your bike to the trailhead for a thrill ride down the hill. To pedal farther afield, look into a guided bike tour that will lead you to backcountry roads. Kayaking. In the spring, kayakers are among the first boaters you’ll see on valley waterways. Vail’s white-water park, on Gore Creek in the heart of the village, is the place for experienced kayakers to show off their rodeo maneuvers and for novices To learn how to manage the tricky rolls and turns on wild waters. Rafting. Peaceful float trips and challenging white-water rafting on the Colorado, Eagle and Arkansas rivers provide fun and excitement on all levels. Horseback Riding. With cloaks of light green, quaking aspen trees and richgreen conifers, the mountainous trails are tranquil and inspiring settings for trail rides in the summer. Try a sunrise or sunset outing or an all-day ride with a picnic and fishing forage at a nearby lake. Hiking. Wilderness areas just beyond Beaver Creek boast waterfalls, creeks and fields of wildflowers. Literally hundreds of trails climb into the mountains of the White River National Forest. Hardy souls can embark on a guided day climb to the top of one of Colorado’s famous 14,000-foot peaks. Shopping Stroll the streets of Beaver Creek and Vail and you’ll find hundreds of places to shop for keepsakes to remember your trip. Beaver Creek’s Market Square is a great place to start. It’s filled with lovely shops and art galleries and plenty of restaurants to stop and grab a bite to eat along the way. The opportunities continue as you stroll to spots like St. James Place, Park Plaza and Village Hall. The same resort ambiance greets shoppers at Vail Village and Lionshead, where winding boulevards present shoppers with hundreds of options, from specialty boutiques to sporting goods and children’s wear. The Vail Valley is particularly known for its art. In one gallery, you might find beautiful landscape photography to remind you of your visit. In another, you’ll find American Indian art that captures the spirit of the West, from Navajo rugs to Hopi kachinas and the pottery and jewelry of the Southwest. Of course, this is an ideal spot to pick up the best in ski and snowboard gear. But remember that mountain sports don’t just involve snow. Look for outdoor shops that can supply the latest in kayaks and tents, set you riding on top-of-the-line bikes or put the best fishing rods or golf clubs into your hands. Luxury offerings abound, too, from fine jewelry to high fashion. Since you’re in the West, you may want to bring back Western wear, such as fine hats, cowboy boots and leather belts. Nightlife Both Vail and Beaver Creek have an abundance of after-hours spots. Sports bars pour suds and there are always a slew of Tvs tuned to your favorite teams. Clubs party late into the night with live bands or disc-spinning Djs. For a more relaxed evening, get cozy in a piano bar and enjoy the night with a good cigar and a singlemalt Scotch. For families, there’s plenty of nighttime entertainment, too. There’s ice-skating year-round in both Vail and Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek offers family events every night, and most are free. In the winter, Vail Village hosts a free Street Beat concert series every Wednesday night with funk, jazz, blues and reggae. In the summer, Hot Summer Nights keeps the music playing, with free concerts every Tuesday evening. Vail’s Adventure Ridge is open during the winter season until 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday for fun activities like tubing or mini-snowmobile racing. For parents who want the night off, check out Night Owls. It offers dinner and chaperoned fun for kids at Adventure Ridge from 4:30-8:30 p.m. For a dose of cosmopolitan culture, keep an eye on the schedule at the Vilar Center for the Arts. In the summer, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival presents evening outdoor concerts from some of the country’s top orchestras. An intrepid traveler, Colorado native Lori Midson is a frequent contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, CITY and Denver magazines, the local editor of numerous Zagat Surveys and the Southwest regional editor at Gayot.com.
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