There is no doubt that the state of Colorado is about wooded mountain scenery, fresh air and the surrounding pristine wilderness. The village of Vail makes a fantastic base for plenty to do further afield - or is a picturesque destination in itself, with a lively restaurant scene. 

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VAIL COACH | Vail | Tel: +1 877 554 -7433 | View web site
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The village hosts festivals all year around. With 7 miles of mountain front and 4,000 acres of open glades on the other side of Vail Mountain, called the “Back Bowls,” this is a ski and snowboard paradise. Vail’s web of trails and lifts is the largest ski area in North America. Four years previously we came to ski for a week and there is everything here to support a sensational time on the snow and après ski fun.

On this last visit, with too many other destinations to lug ski gear to, we didn’t ski, which made us feel disconnected. I am a person who is engaged where I am: if I am in a game park I don’t sleep but get up at dawn to go on safari. When I am on a beach I go fishing and visit coves.

Trying Vail again on the fringes reminded me of what a great ski destination this is - and that I am much happier when I embrace the place I go to. So if you are sightseeing in a Colorado winter, I’d advise booking a ski holiday.

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When the frost melts away and summer comes, uncovering the green carpet of the Colorado forests, the 1,220 acres of runs on the front slopes of Vail Mountain become the perfect dirt trails for mountain bikers. I’d love to bring the boys back to see the same landscape in a different season, although the fir trees and unfrozen blue lakes would be a blur as we burned around the bends at high speed!

VAIL PASS has a bike path that is considered the best ride in Colorado because it covers both sides of Vail mountain - 24 miles up to the summit from the East, then back down the west side into Vail village. And trekkers can tackle the famous TENMILE TRAIL that runs along the canyon floor between ROYAL MOUNTAIN and COPPER MOUNTAIN - or take it higher and go rockclimbing, even ‘iceclimbing!’ This is an outdoor adventure El Dorado with gorgeous, challenging topography everywhere and plenty of tour operators and outfitters to get you there.

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Any challenging treks, bike rides or in my case runs in this valley are going to be rewarded with breathtaking scenery. With Vail mountain dominating the scene you can make any exploration as hard as you want to.  I found the presence of 10,000-foot peaks and sparkling, sugary snow everywhere absolutely inspiring, so I headed up the hilly trails that look back down over the village rooftops, past maples, firs and undergrowth.

The very same terrain would be a psychedelic sea of orange, purple and pinks in summer when the wildflowers come out. You can find isolation and peace the minute you climb out of the village, but in the early morning before starting the ascent, Vail still sleeps. Even down here, the streets themselves are a wonderland that looks surreally ornamental under a blanket of white, with only one trail of footprints there: mine.     

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A nice way for the kids to experience “winter sports life”  is to take them to this completely natural ice rink. Although we hadn’t committed to a ski season, Zoe is a very active, gung ho little girl who loved the whole look and feel of ice and snow.

There are open, free skating times for all ages and abilities, from four up. The arena is also a great place to see ice hockey players and figure skaters fly over the ice during practice times. This is a fun outing, and another reason that Vail is so family friendly… 

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DOBSON ICE ARENA | 321 E Lionshead Cir, Vail | +1 970 479-2271 | View web site
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We enjoyed being relatively tucked away amongst the beauty of Vail, but one of the main attractions for the visit to Colorado was a chance to catch our son Noah’s favourite American basketball team, the DENVER NUGGETS play in Denver, just 100kms away. 
I had paid premium for these tickets because I had promised Noah the big thrill of sitting in the front row, metres behind all his favourite players.

We had a high-octane basketball experience in this mid-sized 17,000-seat arena, sloped like an amphitheatre. The home team, the DENVER NUGGETS were playing the PHILADELPHIA 76’s, and the skill was just incredible to watch at this high level.

The Nuggets, with a groundswell of crowd support, won. The brilliance on court was matched by the roars and enthusiasm of the crowd egging them on; It was so exciting for Noah as a fan to be on the spot, and buy his Denver Nuggets shirt in the home stadium. I would recommend a basketball game in the US to anyone for the sheer sense of occasion, even if you don’t know the first thing about it. What a great way to get hooked!

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PEPSI CENTER STADIUM | DENVER 1000 Chopper Circle, Vail | +1 303 4051100 | View web site
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