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Fun in the Rocky Mountain SunApril 1, 2007 By: Dan Butcher Home-Based Travel Agent
Vail and Beaver Creek offer summertime excitement
In the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the locals have a saying: "I moved here for the winters and I stayed for the summers." Vail and Beaver Creek are perfect examples of why Colorado is such a popular summer destination. In addition to many great on-mountain activities, Colorado's mild, sunny summer months provide the ideal climate for exploring its craggy peaks, valleys flush with wildflowers, forests teeming with wildlife, raging rivers and placid lakes. Both towns are excellent gateways to activities such as world-class whitewater rafting, sand volleyball, hot-air ballooning, Jeep tours, gallery walks, chairlift rides, horseback riding, swimming, golfing, kayaking, fly-fishing, hiking, sporting clays, mountain biking, cattle drives, tennis, rock climbing and Frisbee golf.
Vail, 100 miles west of Denver, is in the midst of a "Billion Dollar Renewal," $200 million of which has already been invested to refurbish hotel rooms and upgrade community facilities such as spas, restaurants and shopping areas. The real attractions, however, are the many activities appealing to far-ranging age groups.
Try out the Rebound Trampoline, a bungee-harnessed trampoline at the base of Vail Mountain's Eagle Bahn Gondola. Then, ride the gondola up to Adventure Ridge, where you can throw a free round of disc golf, take the kids on a hunt for dinosaur bones at Dino Dig, get tips at a mountain bike workshop or simply sit back, eat and drink and soak in the views of Sawatch, the New York and Gore mountain ranges and the famous Mount of the Holy Cross. Challenge yourself on the Orienteering Map & Compass Courses, which range from beginner to advanced; basic instruction is provided. Stop by the Discovery Center to learn about the environment through interactive displays or by joining the morning or afternoon guided nature hikes.
The sixth annual Teva Mountain Games return to Vail May 30-June 3, featuring human-powered, environmentally friendly "organic" action/adventure sports. Organizers have created Vail's Organic Family Adventure Weekend Series for June 1–3, an eco-adventure resort-camp that allows families to learn how to kayak, climb, raft, mountain bike, track wildlife and fly-fish together in a mountain setting.
The biggest news for the upcoming season is the newly appointed artistic director for the Vail International Dance Festival: the New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel, a top-notch dancer and choreographer who will organize the summer dance program. The 2007 season, running July 29 - August 11, will feature the Pacific Northwest Ballet, DanceBrazil, Ballroom's Best and a selection of some of the world's best dancers in the International Evenings of Dance.
The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Philadelphia Orchestra have announced a three-year agreement for a residency in Vail starting in 2007. The Philadelphia Orchestra will give six performances in Vail from July 7 to 14. The music festival will also feature the Rochester Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic orchestras and will be held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The Budweiser Hot Summer Nights Concert Series will also take place at Ford Amphitheater. Free performances of popular music are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday this summer from June 14 to August 22.
Beaver Creek, located near Avon about a 20-minute drive from Vail, has plenty to offer in its own right. For those seeking outdoor adventure, the Beaver Creek Hiking Center offers complimentary strolls, mountain trail jaunts and guided trips up many of the area's "fourteeners" (peaks higher than 14,000 feet). You can also explore the mountains and valleys on three-hour guided mountain bike tours geared toward beginner and intermediate riders, and Beaver Creek Stables offers horse treks ranging from one-hour rides to all-day excursions. Through the latter you can take a wagon ride or a sunset dinner trip on horseback to Beano's Cabin, which has excellent cuisine. River rafting is the perfect family recreation option; check out the new whitewater park on the Eagle River, which has a boat ramp and a spectator terrace. Another option is to explore old mining towns and high-altitude wagon roads in a Jeep or Hummer, or take to the skies with a morning hot-air balloon ride. Also popular is Beaver Creek's year-round outdoor ice-skating rink in the center of the village. For links enthusiasts, the Beaver Creek Golf Club is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed 18-hole championship course in the shadows of the Rockies' towering peaks.
The Vilar Center for the Arts, Beaver Creek's intimate 530-seat performing arts center has a summer line up that includes everything from free family movies to performances by orchestras and pop musicians.
Beaver Creek's annual Blues, Brews & BBQ kicks off the summer season in southern style, featuring barbeque masters from across the country, a variety of blues headliners and a Colorado Microbrew Tasting over Memorial Day weekend. Celebrate a traditional Independence Day with the Beano's Cabin Clambake and Avon's famous "Salute to the U.S.A.," whose attractions include live music, food and craft vendors, a beer garden, a family zone and the largest fireworks display in the Colorado Rockies.