It’s not often that you get to run with Joseph Gray, watch dogs compete in big air competitions, or witness Shauna Coxsey sending it up a wall in the IFSC World Cup. So don’t miss your chance at the 2018 GoPro Mountain Games from June 7 to June 10.
Held annually in Vail, Colo., the GoPro Mountain Games boasts of being the country’s largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music. Over the four days that the event takes place, it draws in a crowd of about 70,000 athletes and spectators from around the globe. From professional athletes to golden retrievers, there’s something for everyone, and whether you’re competing or simply spectating, this years GoPro Mountain Games are sure to get you stoked for summer adventures.
The 2018 Games kick off on Thursday, June 7 with the Mountain Click Photo Competition, Dock Dogs Outdoor BigAir, and Radiant Flow yoga session. In the morning, head over to Vail’s Homestake Creek to catch the Steep Creek Kayaking Championship at 10:00 a.m. “It's the best kayakers in the world taking on a really gnarly stretch of water,” Tom Boyd, Media Chief for GoPro Mountain Games, says of his favorite event. The class V rapids drop 480 feet each mile, attracting professional kayakers and whitewater athletes from around the world.
Another highlight of The Mountain Games will be the International Slackline Invitational, with qualifying rounds slotted for Friday and the finals on Sunday. Last year this event brought in professional slackers from far-flung places like Japan, Switzerland, and Chile, among others.
On Saturday, check out other masters of balance at the IFSC Climbing World Cup. This is the only IFSC competition on U.S. soil, and since climbing will be an official sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Vail Valley Foundation expects an even bigger turnout than last year's 2,500 spectators.
Not into standing on the sidelines? Not a problem. The GoPro Mountain Games has events for amateur competitors—adults, children, teenagers and even dogs. These events include the Rocky Dog Trail Run, a 5K where man’s best friend can run alongside racers, Croakies Kids Stand-Up Paddleboard Challenge, and the Mountain Mud Run with deep pits of brown goo and slick obstacles everyone will have fun trying to conquer. According to Boyd, there’s no better introduction to the mountain lifestyle. “Kids and parents are out there getting dirty,” says Boyd.
Between athletic events, explore vendors and various music and art showcases highlighting the best of mountain living. The grassy area from Checkpoint Charlie to Bridge Street will be lined with booths serving hot food and cold drinks. Stop by Gear Town, where vendors and sponsors like L.L.Bean, Klean Kanteen, and Costa will be handing out free swag, demoing gear and selling some of their best products. And definitely don’t miss the exciting evening events: free concerts with big headliners like St. Paul and the Broken Bones in Vail’s iconic Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and Friday’s Outdoor Reels event with film screenings from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m.
The absolute best part of The Games? They’re 100 percent free for spectators. If you decide you want to do more than just watch, it’s not too late to register online for events open to the public, but don’t wait until the last minute—fees increase 24 hours before the start of the events.
Whether you choose to join in the fun or kick back and watch others battle for first place, The Games are a great kickoff to summer fun in the mountains. “Summer in the mountains is such a hidden gem,” says Sally Gunter, senior manager of communications for Vail and Beaver Creek resorts. “They really activate the base area and the entire town of Vail, drawing in word-class athletes, as well as non-professional athletes. We like to say it’s a fun occasion where ‘the Joes can compete with the pros.'"
Curious about summer in the mountains? There's plenty of adventure to be found in ski resorts even when the snow is gone. Check out our summer resort guides here.