Poor Vail Mountain. It’s so boring in the summer. All there is to do is ride the gondola, hike the dozens of trails winding across the slopes, ogle the beautiful landscape, fly downhill on a full-suspension mountain bike, look for wildlife, play disc golf, go on a summit-top jeep tour. Etc. Plus dining. And shopping. And bar-hopping. Yes, so dull.
But help is on the way. Vail Resorts just announced plans to re-energize its summer biz. Epic Discovery: A Summer Adventure is the first proposal to reach the Forest Service since the passage of last year’s Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act. The legislation makes it easier for the Forest Service to allow non-ski-specific diversions at ski resorts, and is the reason we should expect to see more proposals like Vail’s in the very near future.
Epic Discovery, set to debut in 2014, will feature a three-hour canopy zip tour, several shorter zip lines, a mountain coaster, a ropes course, climbing and bouldering walls and a kids adventure park with a mini zip line, ropes and bridges. Most of the activities will live near the Eagle’s Nest area of the mountain. The non-profit Nature Conservancy will receive one percent of the sales from Epic Discovery’s lift ticket and activity revenue.
Vail Mountain will be the first to benefit from Epic Discovery, but the programming will eventually be rolled out to all of the resorts, with operations at Breckenridge to rival Vail’s in size; the Beaver Creek and Keystone proposals will be scaled down, and the Tahoe resorts will also be included. Some of the features will be on offer in the winter as well, likely the coaster and some of the zips.
“We’re not going to be Elitches [theme park],” says Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz. “We are good environmental stewards, and all the activities will blend seamlessly into the mountain.”