If you’re planning a trip to Vail and wondering what to do besides skiing, you’ve come to the right place. While skiing is undoubtedly the main attraction in this picturesque mountain town, there’s no shortage of other activities to keep your adrenaline pumping and your adventurous spirit satisfied.
From ziplining through scenic valleys to snowmobiling across rugged terrains, Vail boasts an array of thrilling adventures that are sure to make your trip unforgettable. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, these activities offer something for everyone.
But fear not, non-adrenaline junkies. There’s plenty of ways to unwind and enjoy the stunning natural surroundings too. Take a leisurely stroll along the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens or soak in the hot springs at Glenwood Springs. And don’t forget about the culinary scene – Vail has some of the best restaurants and breweries in the state.
So strap on your hiking boots or skiing gear and get ready to explore all that Vail has to offer beyond the slopes. Read on to discover our top recommendations for unleashing your inner adventurer in one of Colorado’s most beloved mountain towns.
Explore Vail’s Hiking Trails for a Scenic Adventure
If you think Vail is only about skiing, think again. The Rocky Mountains that surround this beautiful town offer some of the best hiking trails in the country, attracting outdoor enthusiasts from all around the world. From stunning vistas to rushing waterfalls, there’s something for everyone to experience on one of the many hikes around here.
Discover the Natural Beauty of Holy Cross Wilderness
Holy Cross Wilderness is an outstanding destination for hikers who want to explore untouched nature, wildlife, and scenic mountain ranges. Spanning over 122,000 acres, it is home to several fourteeners (peaks that are higher than 14,000 feet) such as Mount of The Holy Cross and Mount Massive. One of the most famous trails here offers a challenge for experienced hikers – the “Cross Couloir”. It involves climbing up a steep snow gully to the top of the peak where breathtaking panoramic views await you. For those looking for a more relaxed hike, try the 7-mile trail leading to Fancy Lake or Half Moon Pass with its wildflower fields and majestic views of glaciers.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”-John Muir
Experience the Serenity of Gore Creek Trail
Gore Creek Trail showcases nature at its finest, offering hikers a serene escape from bustling city life. Accompanied by the soothing sound of rippling waters throughout the entire trail, it stretches over 12 miles and follows Gore Creek, passing through gorgeous meadows filled with alpine flowers and dense forests packed with wildlife. For a shorter excursion, take the Eagle Bahn Gondola up to Eagle’s Nest and start your hike from there. Along the way, be sure to stop and enjoy one of the valley’s hidden gems, Gore Creek Falls.
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”-Robert Louis Stevenson
Conquer the Steep Terrain of Booth Falls Trail
If you’re looking for a challenging hike that will put your endurance to the test, Booth Falls Trail is an excellent option. With a total length of 4.5 miles round trip and a steep elevation gain of 1,080 feet, it requires both strength and determination to make it to the top where a stunning waterfall awaits your arrival. Though this high-altitude trek might be demanding, it offers some of the most spectacular views Vail has to offer, and reaching the summit is all the more rewarding when you finally stand atop the jagged rocks with a feeling of accomplishment washing over you.
“The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain – he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem – he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved.”-William Arthur Ward
- Vail is not just a skiing paradise but also offers gorgeous hiking trails for nature enthusiasts
- The Holy Cross Wilderness boasts several fourteeners and mesmerizing wildflower fields
- Gore Creek Trail showcases serene vistas and tranquil paths for relaxation
- Booth Falls Trail provides impressive waterfalls and challenging terrain
Avid adventurers know that if they want to explore all sides of a mountain town like Vail, they need to venture off the beaten path. Whether you’re looking to reconnect with nature or are seeking an adrenaline rush, Vail has something for every type of outdoor enthusiast, offering some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States. So pack your backpack and get ready to explore everything this mountain town has to offer beyond skiing.
Experience the Thrill of Snowmobiling in the Rocky Mountains
If you’re looking for an exhilarating winter activity to do in Vail besides skiing, snowmobiling might be just what you need. The Rocky Mountains offer a stunning backdrop for some high-speed adventure on a motorized sled. Here are two great places where you can try snowmobiling:
Ride Through the Majestic White River National Forest
Located just 20 minutes from Vail is the White River National Forest, which offers over 1070 miles of trails for snowmobiling enthusiasts. Guided tours are available at Sage Outdoor Adventures, and their expert guides will take you through the forest’s breathtaking terrain.
“Snowmobiling through the endless backcountry wilderness was simply amazing. We saw elk, deer, and even foxes along the way.” -Julia R., TripAdvisor Review
You’ll blast through open meadows, glide up sweeping ridges, and zoom past untouched powder fields. It’s a rush like no other as you power your snowmobile through the snow-covered forests feeling like you’re part of nature itself!
The best thing about the guided tour is that they provide all the safety gear and training to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience out there in the wild. You don’t need any prior experience or equipment; just bring warm clothing and a sense of adventure.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping on Vail Pass
The snowy slopes of Vail Pass are another perfect spot for snowmobiling. Just imagine motoring through mountainous landscapes with spectacular views of Mount of the Holy Cross, highlighted against cloudless blue skies. Local company Nova Guides offers beginner-to-advanced level options for thrill-seekers seeking adrenalin rushes.
“We rode the Vail Pass tour and had an unforgettable experience. The guides were professional, friendly and made us feel safe on the mountain.” -Neill H., TripAdvisor Review
Your guide will lead you through nearly 55 miles of groomed trails that feature rolling hills, open meadows, and steep bowls. As you zoom through this winter wonderland, keep an eye out for furry friends like squirrels, foxes, snowshoe hares, ptarmigans, and even elk!
If you’re looking to bump up the excitement quotient a little further, then explore the backcountry with one of Nova Guides’ Backcountry Snowmobile tours! This amazing get-away-from-it-all experience takes in over one thousand miles of Colorado’s finest powder playgrounds.
These are just two great options available if you want to do something other than skiing during your trip to Vail. Give yourself some new thrills by taking part in these high-intensity sports. You’ll experience the snowy landscapes of the Rockies like never before!
Take in the Breathtaking Views with a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Float Above the Gore Range and the Eagle River Valley
If you are searching for an incredible experience that doesn’t involve skiing, then hot air ballooning is an excellent option. One of the most scenic locations to enjoy this activity is Vail, Colorado.
The serene ambiance of the flight provides you with ample opportunities to take in the stunning views of the rocky mountains and landscapes below. Capture some postcard-worthy photographs of the Gore Range and the Eagle River Valley from up high while floating amidst nature’s beauty.
“In a hot-air balloon, there’s no place to hide and nowhere to escape. The only way to survive is to face what you fear right at it.” – Richard Branson
Witness the Sunrise over the Rocky Mountains
Vail experiences invitingly clear skies for ballooning, particularly in summers and fall mornings when the sunrises early enough for passengers to relish all of nature’s grandeur. Passengers get an unrivaled perspective as the sun peeks above the distant horizon and starts to light up valleys and creeks.
Sunrise flights in Vail offer you a breathtaking perspective of Mount of the holy cross appearing out of the distance as a blazing rock before floating back to land after frolicking along the mountain ranges and pristine rivers.
“You haven´t fully enjoyed life if you haven´t floated off the ground on a hot air balloon ride!” – Manuel Bataller
Enjoy a Champagne Brunch After Your Flight
You’ll have plenty of activities to do once your hot air balloon ride is complete. But, perhaps one of the finest ways to cap your experience would be a champagne brunch. Your certified pilot and crew will organize a fabulous brunch after the flight in Vail’s best restaurants or five-star resorts where you can savor local cuisine.
The Champagne is, of course, optional, but it adds an extra bit of luxury to your experience, making this a magnificent way to commemorate one of life’s most exciting events! A special treat from the balloonist will surely lift up your spirits for days!
“Adventure without champagne is like skydiving without a parachute!” – UnknownIn conclusion, hot air ballooning over Vail provides breathtaking views for anyone seeking adventure outside skiing and other winter activities. You’ll witness stunning panoramic views, have rare opportunities to flock with birds in an unparalleled environment, relish a delightful breakfast topped off with a toast to celebrate your trip as you revel in the moment. Now that you know What To Do In Vail Besides Ski, ensure to include a Hot Air Balloon Ride on your bucket list while visiting Vail.
Relax and Rejuvenate at One of Vail’s Luxurious Spas
Vail, Colorado may be known for its superb skiing, but there are plenty of options for non-skiers as well. You can still enjoy the stunning mountain views while indulging in some much-needed rest and relaxation at one of Vail’s luxurious spas.
Vail has a number of incredible day spas that cater to all your beauty, wellness, and pampering needs. These spas offer a variety of services, including massages, facials, body treatments, and more. Here are just a few examples of what you can expect from some of the top spas in Vail.
Indulge in a Soothing Hot Stone Massage
If you’re looking for the ultimate way to unwind after hitting the slopes or exploring Vail Village, consider booking a hot stone massage. This type of massage uses heated stones placed on specific points on the body, with the warmth from the stones helping to release tension and promote deeper relaxation.
The Spa at The Arrabelle offers an 80-minute hot stone massage that is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. Their experienced therapists use smooth, warm basalt stones to increase circulation and reduce stress. Choose from either Swedish or Deep Tissue techniques and let your worries melt away.
Recharge with a Detoxifying Body Wrap
If you’re feeling sluggish and in need of a pick-me-up, book a detoxifying body wrap. These treatments help to rid the body of toxins while also hydrating and nourishing the skin.
The Sonnenalp Spa offers an Alpine Glow Body Treatment that begins with a gentle exfoliation using alpine salt crystals. Next, a mineral-rich mud mask is applied before guests are cocooned in a warm wrap to help the skin absorb all the beneficial ingredients. After this, you can enjoy a Vail Mountain-inspired massage for the ultimate relaxation experience.
Another option is the Detox Cellulite Treatment at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail. This 80-minute treatment starts with dry brushing to remove dead skin cells before a custom blend of organic essential oils is applied to your body. Afterward, an ionizing blanket is wrapped around you to gently heat up the body and improve circulation. Finally, a lymphatic drainage massage helps move toxins out of the body and leaves you feeling refreshed and renewed.
The Bottom Line
“The benefits of spa appointments go far beyond mere indulgence. You may also be improving your overall health at the same time.” -Diane Ackerman
If you’re looking for something to do besides skiing in Vail, look no further than the world-class spas located throughout the village. Indulge in a hot stone massage or detoxifying body wrap, and let yourself truly relax and rejuvenate amidst the stunning mountain scenery.
Go on a Wildlife Safari to Spot Vail’s Fascinating Fauna
Vail, Colorado is well-known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities, but did you know that there are also plenty of exciting wildlife sightings to be had? If you’re looking for something different to do in Vail besides hitting the slopes, why not consider going on a wildlife safari tour?
While Vail might be most famous for its winter sports, the summer months bring out a whole host of fascinating fauna from hibernation. A guided wildlife safari tour will provide an unforgettable opportunity to see some of Vail’s most iconic creatures up close and personal.
Observe the Majestic Elk in Their Natural Habitat
If you’re lucky enough to take a wildlife safari tour during the fall season, you have a high probability of witnessing one of the Rocky Mountain’s most majestic creatures: the elk. The rutting season typically begins in late August or early September, bringing with it the unmistakable sound of elks bugling through the crisp mountain air.
During this time, bull elks can be seen sparring over mating rights with their antlers locked together in a fierce competition. A guided tour will allow visitors to observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them, providing unique opportunities for awe-inspiring photos and videos.
Spot the Elusive Mountain Lion on a Guided Tour
For those seeking an extra thrill, taking a guided safari tour at sunset may increase your chance of spotting one of Vail’s most elusive predators: the mountain lion. These big cats are notoriously difficult to spot due to their solitary lifestyle and nocturnal habits, making any sighting all the more special.
A professional guide with years of experience tracking local wildlife will always ensure that tours are conducted in a safe environment without putting the animals or visitors at risk. After all, when it comes to spotting mountain lions, it’s always better to be guided by an expert.
Other common and exciting sightings on safari tours include black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, eagles, and hawks. The variety of wildlife that can be seen in Vail is sure to provide unforgettable memories and experiences for tourists and locals alike.
- If you’re looking for something different to do in Vail besides skiing or snowboarding, consider going on a guided wildlife safari tour.
- A fall tour offers excellent opportunities for seeing elk during their rutting season, while sunset tours increase your chances of spotting elusive predators like mountain lions.
- Guided tours are conducted safely and responsibly with expert guides who ensure both visitor safety and animal welfare.
“Following animal tracks or hearing their calls in nature evokes a primitive response within us that reminds us we share the same complex emotions as our fellow creatures.” -Tammie Thompson-Booker
If you’re looking for an exciting new way to experience Vail’s beauty, a wildlife safari tour may just offer the perfect opportunity. Whether you’re an experienced photographer hoping to capture some unique shots of local fauna or simply someone curious about experiencing the natural world first-hand, guided tours offer a fun and educational option for anyone seeking adventure.
Challenge Your Limits with Rock Climbing in the Rockies
Vail, Colorado is known for its world-renowned skiing and snowboarding, but what many people don’t know is that there’s plenty to do beyond hitting the slopes. One of the most thrilling activities you can try while visiting Vail is rock climbing.
Conquer the Vertical Walls of the Vail Valley
If you’re an experienced climber looking for a challenge, the vertical walls of the Vail Valley will test your limits. The area boasts various options for both traditional and sport climbing, from limestone cliffs to granite domes. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can even try ice climbing on frozen waterfalls!
“Climbing is about embracing the challenge, welcoming failure as well as success, and pushing yourself to places you never thought possible.” -Alex Lowe
Experience the Thrill of Multi-Pitch Climbing
If you’re looking for a unique climbing experience, multi-pitch climbing may be just what you need. This style involves ascending multiple pitches or “sections” of rock before reaching the summit. It requires not only strength and technique but also communication and trust between you and your partner. The stunning views from the top make it all worthwhile.
“The reason we climb, I think, is because it’s so difficult. There are times when it’s exhilarating. Mostly, it’s a matter of patience and perseverance – sticking with it.” -Jimmy Chin
Learn the Ropes with a Guided Rock Climbing Lesson
For those new to climbing or looking to improve their skills, taking a guided lesson with a professional instructor is highly recommended. You’ll learn the basics of equipment, safety, and technique in a controlled environment before venturing out to more challenging terrain.
Guided lessons are available for all levels, from beginners who have never climbed before to experienced climbers looking to refine their skills. You’ll gain confidence in your abilities and be able to tackle more difficult climbs with ease.
Push Your Limits with Bouldering in the Rocky Mountains
If you’re interested in climbing but not quite ready to tackle the vertical walls of Vail Valley, bouldering may be a good starting point. This style involves scaling smaller rock formations or “boulders” without ropes or harnesses. It’s a great way to build strength and technique while enjoying the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
“Bouldering is basically just trying really hard and then falling off. It’s meditative in that sense. Whenever I’m on a climb, nothing else exists except for what’s right in front of me.” -Alex Honnold
- The Best Time to Go Climbing:
- Rock climbing can be done year-round in Vail, but the best time to go depends on your preferences. Summer offers warmer temperatures and longer days, making it ideal for multi-pitch climbing. Fall brings cooler weather and vibrant foliage, creating scenic backdrops for bouldering. Winter gives adventurous climbers the opportunity to try ice climbing.
- Where to Find Climbing Gear:
- Tips for Staying Safe:
No matter your skill level or experience, rock climbing in Vail is an exhilarating activity that shouldn’t be missed. From the stunning scenery to the physical and mental challenge, it’s an adventure you’re sure to remember for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some outdoor activities to do in Vail besides skiing?
Vail offers a plethora of outdoor activities beyond skiing, such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, and sleigh rides. You can also enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding during the summer months. The breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains make these activities even more enjoyable.
What are some family-friendly activities to do in Vail besides skiing?
Vail has plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained. You can take a scenic gondola ride, go on a nature hike, visit the local library, or go to Adventure Ridge for tubing, zip-lining, and bungee trampolining. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Vail Nature Center are also great options for kids and adults alike.
What are some cultural attractions to visit in Vail?
If you’re interested in cultural attractions, Vail has plenty to offer. The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, the Vail Valley Art Guild, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater are all worth a visit. The Vail International Dance Festival and the Vail Jazz Festival are also popular events that showcase the town’s diverse cultural offerings.
What are some unique shopping experiences in Vail?
Vail has a variety of unique shopping experiences, from high-end designer boutiques to charming local shops. The Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show is a must-visit, featuring locally made crafts and artisanal foods. The Edwards Corner Farmers’ Market is another great option. For something a little different, check out the Covered Bridge Store, which sells handmade soap and candles.
What are some dining options in Vail besides ski resort restaurants?
Vail has a diverse dining scene with options beyond ski resort restaurants. You can try the famous burgers at Bart & Yeti’s or the authentic Italian cuisine at Larkspur. For a casual lunch, head to the Westside Cafe & Market or the Vail Brewing Company. The Sweet Basil and Matsuhisa restaurants are also excellent options for a special night out.
What are some nightlife options in Vail besides après ski?
Vail has a lively nightlife scene beyond après ski. You can enjoy live music at the Vail Ale House or Shakedown Bar, or dance the night away at the Bridge Street Bar or Vendetta’s. The Red Lion is a popular spot for drinks and socializing, while the Bol Vail bowling alley provides a fun and unique nightlife experience.