Epic Discovery is a summer program designed to connect children and families to nature in Colorado.
Vail Resorts Epic Discovery is a summer program designed to connect children and families to nature in Colorado. ©: Kelli Harrington/The Nature Conservancy

Stories in Colorado

Epic Discovery at Vail Resorts

Creating a unique and fun summer experience that connects children and families to nature in Colorado.

October 6, 2007. Hikers on trail heading from Mill's Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann
WOPA080108_D103 October 6, 2007. Hikers on trail heading from Mill's Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann © Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy

With partners, we're developing accessible activities, such as zip lines, canopy tours, mountain coasters and ropes courses, as well as interpretive elements and hiking trails.

October 6, 2007. Hikers on trail heading from Mill's Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann
WOPA080108_D103 October 6, 2007. Hikers on trail heading from Mill's Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann © Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy

The mountains of Colorado are a huge attraction offering some of the best skiing around and bringing people from all over the world to Colorado to enjoy the Rockies. The forests along this range provide clean air and water, homes for wildlife, healthy streams for fish, places to play, and important wood resources that society needs.

But for people who don’t experience nature up close, it can be hard to understand the many benefits that the range’s forests provide in our everyday lives.

Summer Fun 

That’s why we’re working with Vail Resorts and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to create a unique and fun summer experience that connects children and families to nature.

When Congress passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in 2011, it opened the door for approval of year-round activities on permitted, already-developed ski terrain. By creating more year round options, the bill offered people more opportunities to explore the forests around them.

Something for Everyone

Since then, Vail Resorts has been developing Epic Discovery, where more kids and families will be able to enjoy the mountains via engaging and accessible activities, such as zip lines, canopy tours, mountain coasters and ropes courses, as well as interpretive elements and hiking trails.

The Conservancy is working with Vail Resorts and the USFS to launch the program at Vail Mountain this year and Breckenridge Ski Resort in 2017. Together we’re developing science-based information and activities that will foster a better understanding of how healthy forests help keep water sources clean and secure.

Funding forest conservation

This collaboration will, in turn, generate additional funding for the Conservancy’s work. One percent of proceeds from all summer lift ticket and activity revenue will support forest restoration in Colorado.

Forest restoration projects like the Conservancy’s work along the front range in Denver and near Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs—aims to keep forests healthy. Tree thinning reduces the risk of catastrophic fire, improves habitat, and makes forests more resilient to climate change and drought. These projects also help protect clean drinking water for people living along the front range.

Whatever you enjoy—hiking, biking, skiing or wildlife watching—this collaboration will deliver all kinds of outdoor activities and, hopefully, create emotional connections that launch a lifetime of curiosity and outdoor fun!