The Vail Valley is the ultimate winter playground and, while skiing and snowboarding are often seen as the ultimate winter activities, there is plenty of snowy family fun to be had off the slopes. Whether your gang needs a day off from skiing or doesn’t ski at all or you’re looking for something to do together in the afternoon or evening, one of these activities is sure to be a hit.
Photo: Vail Facebook
You don’t have to have Olympic figure skating skills to enjoy this classic winter mountain activity. There are several options for ice skating in the Vail Valley, including indoor and outdoor rinks.
In Vail you can skate under the stars in Vail Village at the Solaris Ice Rink or in Lionshead at the Alderhof Ice Rink. Both of these rinks are open during afternoon and evening hours in the winter and have ice skate rentals available. There are also restaurants and coffee shops right by the rinks so you can easily take a break to warm cold fingers and toes over a hot chocolate. The Alderhof Ice Rink (also known as the Vail Square Ice Rink) is right in the middle of Lionshead’s Bavarian-inspired village center, creating a particularly magical experience, complete with fire pits and twinkle lights.
For a similarly magical outdoor skating experience, Beaver Creek Ice Rink is a must (fun fact: this one is also open in the summer). The rink is nestled right in the heart of Beaver Creek Village, surrounded by cobblestone walkways, mountain views, shops and restaurants. The rink is open during afternoon and evening hours and has ice skate rentals available.
For indoor skating in Vail check out the Dobson Ice Arena. This multi-use arena offers a variety of activities for anyone who wants to play on the ice. From hockey to figure skating, there’s something here for all levels. Check out their calendar for drop-in public skating hours.
Photo: Beaver Creek Ice Rink, Vail Valley This Week
Tubing and sledding
The simple joy of sledding shouldn’t be reserved for the youngest members of the family; adults can also get in on the fun when by heading out to the sledding hill (bonus: you’ll get a bit of a workout when you hike back up the hill).
There are a few popular informal sledding spots around the Valley, where there’s no charge, you just BYO sled. If that sounds like your speed, the Eagle-Vail golf course (459 Eagle Drive in Avon) has some good, gentle hills, or check out the sledding hill next to the Cordillera Nordic Center (650 Clubhouse Drive in Edwards).
If you’re looking for something more organized and want to save your legs the uphill climb, a visit to Adventure Ridge at Eagle’s Nest on Vail Mountain for a tubing session is in order. Their 900-foot tubing hill has multiple lanes with varying routes and pitches, plus there’s a magic carpet to take you back up to the top. The gondola ride to get there (on the Eagle Bahn Gondola, accessed from Lionshead Village) makes for an extra special experience. Adventure Ridge offers a variety of activities, such as ski biking and a mountain coaster, in addition to tubing. They’re open for tubing from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday during ski season.
A snowmobile tour is one of the best ways to explore the Rockies in the winter. You’ll enjoy panoramic views of snow-capped peaks and powdery mountain meadows. There are several outfitters in the Vail Valley offering a range of snowmobile experiences, from guided tours for all ages to adventure rides for adrenaline junkies.
Nova Guides and Sage Outdoor Adventures are two popular options for guided tours. Nova Guides offers several different tours of varying lengths and levels of intensity, including an option for kids as young as 2 years old. Sage Outdoor Adventures operates on a private mountain ranch, just west of Vail and Beaver Creek and also offers a variety of tours.
Cute dogs plus snowy trails equals dog sledding, an unforgettable mountain adventure. In dog sledding, a driver – called a musher – stands at the back of the sled and controls the sled and the team of dogs pulling the sled, while the passengers sit in the sled and enjoy the ride. Mountain Musher operates daily tours in the Vail Valley, out of Wolcott.