It’s safe to say that the GoPro Games kick-off the true beginning of summer up in Vail, Colorado. The four day festival has enough activities to last you the year… or at least until the Burton U.S. Open or the X Games.
Walking through Vail Village makes you reassess where you are– Colorado or Switzerland? By the time the games roll around, locals and visitors alike trade in their skis for some hiking boots, and the mountainside is completely covered in fresh green grass with wildflowers peeping through. The event grounds are huge. If you’re looking for music, vendors, and the world’s largest gathering of Dock Dogs, the Lionshead area is your place; while freestyle Kayaking, food vendors, the IFSC World Cup, and Slackliners make residence in Vail Village.
Each year, more events are added, such as the Down River Kayak Sprint and the SUP Sprint, to inspire both world-class professionals and amateur athletes to compete. With over 2,800 athletes, you’ll often find them in not one or two events, but more like six or seven! It’s easy to see that rather than being a weekend competing for gold medals, it’s more about the joy of getting outside and pure sport. Athletes and spectators alike are seen throughout Vail Village and Lionshead catching up with friends, checking out the free swag, and cracking cold beers along the river banks. And, as soon as the sun goes down, the free concerts and cover bands give everyone the opportunity to bust out some moves.
In terms of accommodations, there are plenty of options in Vail Village and Lionshead both from hotels and Airbnb’s. However, be forewarned that you may be paying a lofty price. Another option is to get a little outside of the event area and explore Eagle, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Dillon, or Frisco. Each of those smaller towns will get you away from crowds, and you’ll be paying a lower rate to be about 20 to 30 minutes outside of Vail.
In my book, it’s worth it. Not only do you get to experience another mountain town, but you’ll also be able to meet some locals at coffee shops and breweries. If you’re more into the camping scene, Summit County and Eagle County have campgrounds that are both reserved and first-come, first-served. You’ll be able to get incredible vantage points of the peaks and some pretty epic sunrises.
Next up for me, back down to Telluride.
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