The O. Zone

Entertainment, recreation options somewhat overwhelming in Vail in the summertime

By David O. Williams
Real AspenMay 9, 2011
Vail in the winter is pretty simple: virtually anything and everything you can do on snow or ice is right outside your door. But in the summer months the diversity of outdoor recreation and entertainment options is almost overwhelming.

Whether it's enjoying the snow (with a fly rod or in a raft) as it melts off the mountains and fills the valley's rivers and streams or staying higher and drier by climbing, biking or hiking on the high peaks, Vail in the summer offers an almost limitless array of ways to get out and play.
Mud running at the Teva Mountain Games.

And nearly all of them are on display at the annual kickoff to the summer season, the Teva Mountain Games June 2-5. From downhill mountain biking to rock climbing to endurance racing to mud running to kayaking competitions on Gore Creek and the Eagle River at peak runoff, the Teva Games have gained a national reputation among both professional and amateur adventure athletes.

The carnage is great for spectators, but also highly participatory, and comes with a backdrop of music, art exhibits and outdoor adventure films. The Games are a pure celebration of the mountain lifestyle, and anyone attending will come away with plenty of ideas for how to test themselves in the alpine environment. And they'll more than earn the right to relax afterward.

Slightly more civilized and way at the other end of the endorphin spectrum is the annual Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival June 26-Aug. 3. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail is a classic outdoor venue with the Gore Range Mountains in the background and Vail Mountain in the foreground. Spread out on the lawn, sip wine, nosh on brie and bread and soak in the classical sounds of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

If you want to pump up the volume a little, head 10 miles west to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek – an intimate, state-of-the-art indoor venue beneath a year-round ice rink. This summer's lineup includes acts like Sheryl Crow, Chris Isaak, Keb' Mo' and Peter Frampton, to name a few.

But music festivals and other outdoor sports aside, 2011 really will be the summer of the bicycle in the Vail Valley. A two-time host of the World Mountain Biking Championships, Vail also used to host a stage or two of the old Coors Classic road cycling stage race in the 1980s.

The ski town can thank seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong for bringing road racing back with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Aug. 22-28. Stage 3, an individual time trial, will be held in Vail on Aug. 25. Armstrong has finally officially retired, so he won't compete, but some of the top riders in the world will be on hand.

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