If Aspen is Colorado's Hollywood East, then her rival Vail is Wall Street West. So popular is this ski resort with the monied East Coast crowd that locals sometimes refer to particularly crowded weeks as "212" weeks, in reference to the area code of so many visitors. The attraction for vacationers from all over is the thin, aspen-cloaked Vail Valley, a narrow corridor slit by I–70 and bounded by the rugged Gore Range to the north and east and the tabled Sawatch escarpments to the south. Through it all runs the sparkling Eagle River.
The resorts begin just west of Vail Pass, a saddle well below tree line, and stretch 20 miles through the communities of Vail, Eagle-Vail, Minturn, Avon, Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, and Edwards. The vibe in these places varies dramatically, from Beaver Creek, a gated community of second (and sometimes third) megahomes, to Edwards, a rapidly growing and increasingly affluent worker town, to Vail, filled with styles of lodging, dining, and shopping appealing to many tastes.
In winter this region is famous for the glittering resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek. Between these two areas skiers and snowboarders have just over 7,000 acres at their disposal, including the unforgettable Back Bowls far beyond the noise of I–70 traffic. In summer these resorts are great bases from which you can explore the high country on foot, horseback, raft, or bike.
But take heed: all trails go up—though you can cheat and catch the Eagle Bahn Gondola up and hike or ride down. Some trails are designated for bikers, others for hikers, and many for both. Always remember that bikers should yield to hikers, though in practice many consider it courteous to let cyclists blow by. In addition, there are over 2,000 miles of trails weaving through the White River National Forest. Warm-weather weekends are filled with an exciting range of cultural events, including performances by such groups as the New York Philharmonic and the Bolshoi Ballet.