Mountain Madness Vacation – Vail

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For our last stop on the Mountain Madness Vacation we hit up Vail. K found a great deal for us up at The Lodge at Cordillera. After settling into our room we spent the afternoon snowshoeing in the area. From a tip from one of the lodge employees, we drove a few minutes down the road to a White River National Forest trailhead. There are so many options for hiking and snowshoeing around here, just a quick internet search showed so many possibilities but you can’t beat a local tip. It was a nice little snowshoe and we went probably 3 miles or so in all, out and back. Because some of the snow had started melting, some areas of the trail were kind of strange, and you had to be more careful how you stepped, because there was still a rounded section of snow in the middle but the sides had melted away. We also saw some big animal tracks which could have been a cat or possibly even a smaller bear waking from hibernation(!).

The next day we checked out the Booth Falls Trail. It is easily accessible from the interstate and is a nice scenic hike. On the way in the trail has a mostly continuous uphill, some areas are pretty gently sloped though, and passed several waterfalls. We got to the point where the path levels out and gets more into the valley area before turning back around. We didn’t bring our snowshoes because the beginning of the trail was pretty muddy and snow free, but we could have used them further up. But even without them everything was packed down enough that there were no problems. I did use a pair of Yaktrax for additional traction though and they were great.

Whoops! Fell through the snowpack!

Vail itself is so cool, specifically Vail Village and Lionshead, which are based off of the European village theme and have such cute and charming looking buildings. There are all sorts of pedestrian only zones and lots of shops and dining options. There are lots of lodging options if you want to stay in the thick of things rather than further out like we were.

Vail was the last stop on our Mountain Madness vacation, but even the drive back home from here was amazing. There were so many other mountain peaks on the way. At one point the interstate went through a neat canyon along the river.

Thoughts on the hotel and restaurants we visited:
The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera – Located in Edwards and about 20 – 30 minutes outside of Vail Village. What we didn’t expect was that the lodge is part of a gated community. The houses there are each mansions on their own, and our opinion of them was that any one of them could have been a mini lodge. But the real lodge definitely stands apart when you see it. The room was very nice, with its own gas fireplace and patio with big mountain views. They had a great hot tub where you also had views of the mountains and valley as well as an indoor pool. The outdoor pool was closed while we were there. We were in the new wing of the building which in our opinion was poorly designed in that you have to go up to the 3rd floor in the main building, walk over to the new wing, and then take the elevator down to your floor as there’s no direct connection. Keep that in mind if you’re not up for walking that far every time you go to and from your room. Other than that, this place was the height of luxury.

The hotel

Views from our patio
Elk herd and views from near the lodge


Mirador – Very pretty restaurant located inside of the Lodge at Cordillera. Great views, delicious food and impeccable service. This was the epitome of a “night in”. 🙂
Vail Ale House – Located in West Vail, this is definitely more of a hole in the wall sort of place, decent for happy hour deals. They have a good selection of beer including local breweries. We were just here for a happy hour drink before heading over to Vail Village for dinner.
Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer, Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant – specializes in Austrian dishes. I had the Kasespaetzle and K had a Wienerschnitzel, mmm. Nice location right in Vail Village. It was a bit weird though as we were basically forced to take our coats to the coat check before they seated us; not sure if that was due to the brief commercial they were getting footage for elsewhere in the room or if that’s a normal occurrence. It came across kind of abrasively.

The Basics

Who: Anyone looking for a fun getaway whether you’re into shopping, good dining, going to festivals, or outdoor activities. Vail is much closer to the Denver area than the other three ski towns we visited.

What: According to, Vail Ski Resort is the largest single resort in the United States! Vail itself was actually developed in conjunction with the resort itself.
Where: Less than a 2 hour drive west of Denver on I-70. We couldn’t believe how close it actually is!
When: Any time of year depending on what activities you plan to do or if you want to arrive in time for a certain event. There are numerous events and festivals on the calendar each year.
Why: Like we’ve said before, if you live in Colorado like us, we feel like it’s worth exploring and checking out its many different areas and towns. This place is so close to Denver it could be an easy weekend getaway.
How: Fly to and/or drive from Denver. There is a free shuttle in town that links the various areas.
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