Vail Colorado is in Eagle County in Colorado. At over 8,000 feet it is home to the highest ski mountain in Colorado.
It is not one of our favorite towns. We are not skiers and we tend to not like these types of tourist cities. But the Swiss-themed city is conveniently located for when we traveled to Colorado in the summertime. It has access to a number of nice trails and good hotels, and has restaurants and weekend events in which hundreds of vendors set up tables and tents for product demos and samples.
We just happened to arrive in Vail in June on the last day of the annual GoPro Mountain Games. The event attracts a large number of tourists with a number of sports competitions (running, biking, rafting, kayaking, etc), dog events, demonstrations (such as slackline), and music. We, and judging from the dancing crowds, hoop twirlers, beer drinkers, cannabis smokers, and Jerry Garcia lookalikes and wannabes, everybody else, enjoyed the Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue.
One of the draws to Vail for us is the many beautiful hikes in the general area. We managed to find some beautiful trails.
- Lost Lake is a six-mile hike that, counting the ups and downs probably amounts to about a 1,000-foot elevation gain. The hike goes through lodgepole pine and aspen groves with large areas of essentially clear-cut stands that are cleared of trees killed by bark beetles. While a depressing sight, it does clear the view of distant snow-capped peaks. The destination is a pretty mountain lake.
About 30 minutes east of Vail is the Frisco/Dillon area. Here we also found some interesting hikes.
- Lily Pad Lake is a 3.3-mile trail that passes through stands of lodgepole pine and aspen before reaching viewpoints of the Dillon Reservoir and the pretty lake. We also saw some beaver lodges and a couple of ponds that, in the past, had lily pads.
- Sapphire Point is a 0.6-mile loop with several views of the new Dillon Reservoir with its pretty islands and views of surrounding snow-capped mountains.
- Old Dillon Reservoir is a 1.7-mile loop that climbs up to and then circles the smaller older reservoir, before returning to the trailhead.
- The Flame in the Four Seasons s a very nice steakhouse. Tom finally fulfilled his craving for Colorado Lamb with a delicious, perfectly cooked Double Lamb Chop with chimichurri sauce and poblano pepper. And if that weren’t enough to satiate his taste buds, the addition of pan-seared foie gras with huckleberry sauce certainly was. Joyce was similarly pleased with her Tamari-Glazed Scottish Salmon with sesame butter. We selected a 2016 Willamette Valley Aberrant Cellars “Confero” with a big, bold, black fruit and chocolate palate to work with both dishes/
- La Tour is a French American restaurant. We were disappointed by the service and only moderately pleased with the food. We had three dishes: Buffalo Ribeye, Black Truffle Miso-marinated Alaskan Halibut with seaweed salad and black truffle beurre blanc, and a side dish of very garlicky sautéed exotic mushrooms. For a wine that would work with each, we chose a Merlot-dominant, Right Bank Bordeaux, a 2017 Chateau Coutet St. Emillion Grand Cru.
- Montauk Seafood Grill offers many opportunities for ordering from among a selection of fresh fish, prepared from plain grilled to being incorporated into a full meal, plus a number of easy, attractive ways of sampling multiple side dishes and add-ons. In the mood for straightforward preparation of good products, we, through Joyce’s magically efficient order configuration, had grilled Jumbo White Prawns, grilled Atlantic Dayboat Sea Scallops, Toasted Garlic, and Sesame Sticky Rice and Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes. Although we enjoyed all the dishes, the big, sweet, perfectly grilled scallops were a standout. We has a pleasant 2018 George Dubouef Pouilly-Fuisse.
- Red Lion is a popular, casual spot where we had a lunch of BBQ Pork Ribs with big, lightly breaded, and fried onion rings, baked beans, and coleslaw along with a Colorado beer (Firestarter IPA.)
- El Segundo was our stop for a light, post-hike lunch where we started with chips, salsa and guacamole, followed by a taco salad with ancho chile ground beef and a “Greek Taco”, essentially a gyros (lamb kebab, tahini, feta and so forth, wrapped in a soft taco shell. It was fast although not memorable.
We stayed at the Vail Marriot Mountainside. The only con against this hotel is that it is not directly in Vail but a few minutes walk away via a nice trail along the water. The hotel is very comfortable and the staff was fabulous. The rooms were recently redone and very comfortable. We were on the 6th floor in a handicap room which was really a misnomer. The only concession to handicap seemed to be the poles in the closet were at a lower height and that bathtub had handrails (no shower stall). The room was lovely with extra space and a fireplace. Although the hotel published a resort fee, we were not charged for it….probably as the place was still under renovation and it still had some Covid restrictions in place. For example, their hot tub worked but you had to go to the property next door to use a pool. But we still had some of the more typical items you get in a resort fee such as the free use of hiking poles. They had a great grab-and-go breakfast (fee waived for elites) where you could order hot or cold food. The portions were huge. And while the location wasn’t right in Vail itself, we were very close to the Red Sandstone parking garage where we could park for free overnight versus paying for valet parking. It was a very good stay. If it weren’t for the location, we would return. Heck, we may still return.