Photo by: Mark Woolcott
“Play is really the work of childhood.” – Mr. Rogers
Learning, play, and adventure are the key elements of the new Epic Discovery at Vail Mountain – and there is no more beautiful place to experience these as a family. Families can connect, create memories, and work together to overcome obstacles and learn through the thrill of adventure. With access to Vail Mountain via a smooth gondola ride and paved paths to each activity at the top, Epic Discovery is perfect for multi-generational travel.
With the Ultimate Adventure Pass, kids and adults can take unlimited rides on the zipline, cross the high ropes adventure course, climb the rock tower, zoom down the tube slide, fly on the alpine coaster, and bounce on the bungee trampoline – all a part of Epic Discovery. Because there are height and weight limits, the Little Explorer Pass is the ticket for smaller kids and gets them access to the smaller zipline, climbing tower, tube run, bungee trampoline, and adventure course. Check the website for details on prices and height and weight requirements. New for summer of 2017 is a 36-foot climbing wall that is the second-tallest, permanent outdoor climbing wall in Colorado.
** New for summer 2017 – All kids ride the gondola free with an adult purchase!
Tips: Head up the gondola first thing in the morning to shoot for the best weather. It can get stormy during the summer afternoons. Slather on sunscreen due to the high elevation and bring water bottles to keep refilling. Start your day at the Golden Eagle Zipline before the lines get long later afternoon. Outdoor BBQ, indoor restaurants, and water stations are at the top for refueling during the day. Benches and picnic tables are great places to enjoy some downtime, or adult rest while kids head to the tubing hill for the 20th time.
Learn Through Play
Photo by: Michelle McCoy
How high can a mountain lion jump? And how high can you jump? Take kids on a walk along Eagle’s Loop Trail to explore learning about the wildlife found in the Rocky Mountains. Interactive stations entice kids to learn through play. Try balancing on narrow boards like a bighorn sheep or listen attentively through an enlarged ear of a mule deer to discover the unique characteristics of these mountain animals. Story stakes along the trail give information about the flora, fauna, and animals of the White River National Forest. Don’t try to point out the different mountain ranges that dot the horizon, just peer through the Mountain View Finders to easily spot the majestic peaks and learn their names. Stop in at the yurt where the Nature Discovery Center is located. Taxidermied animals, fur pelts, horns, pine cones, and more are here for kids to learn from and touch. Find out the times for the daily guided nature walks and join a group, learning from nature guides who are eager to share their love of the flowers, trees, and animals of the Rocky Mountains.
Game Creek Zipline Tour
Photo by: Michelle McCoy
Game Creek Aerial Aventure is the longest string of ziplines in the United States and it is thrilling! Fly 60 mph over the tree tops of Vail Mountain from platform to platform with enthusiastic guides who keep safety as a first priority. You may lose your breath climbing the sky stairs or repelling down the side of a platform, or simply at the majestic view that can be seen from the the top of Game Creek. Guides take groups on a 3-4 hour tours and this is a perfect opportunity for families to experience together. Watching your son or daughter take that first confident step off a platform to soar above the treetops may bring delight in their accomplishment or fear that it is your turn next, but what a great way to learn together. Purchasing this adventure includes an all-day pass for the rest of Epic Discovery. A full day, but a fun way to do everything.
Vail Mountain is teeming with opportunities to play and have an adventure. Riding the gondola isn’t the only way to get up the mountain, although it is the easiest. Take the Berry Picker trail from the valley to the top and enjoy the climb with your dog. Dogs, as well as people, are welcome to ride down the gondola for free. Strap on a helmet and join a guide for a mountain bike clinic and learn to ride the many trails down the mountain. Guided hikes are offered daily and are a great way to explore the mountain. Open-aired jeeps are waiting to take guests on scenic tours across Vail Mountain. Whatever method you choose to explore, keep an eye out for the local marmots, deer, birds, and beautiful creatures of the Rocky Mountains.
Disclosure: Huge thanks to Vail Mountain for hosting Trekaroo on this trip! All opinions in this article are my own.