Where is Vail Pass?
Vail Pass is located on I-70 between Summit County and Eagle County Colorado. The pass can be accessed by three public locations: I-70 rest area at the summit of Vail Pass (Mile Marker 190), Red Cliff, and the Camp Hale pull-off along highway 24.
When Does Vail Pass Open?
The Vail Pass Recreational Area does experience seasonal closures. From late April - Early June, the pass will usually be closed to animal migration patterns. During this time of year, no motorized vehicles are allowed to access the trails. Along with animal migrations, the pass will also open/close based on how much snow there is or how little there is. To avoid trail damage, the access gates will remain closed until the majority of the snow has melted off. This helps protect the trails and the local water supply to Red Cliff, Minturn, and Eagle County. The pass will also close when too many users disrepect the land causing the forest service to close the gates. To help avoid these closures, always follow the rules of Leave No Trace and Colorado Trail Etiquette.
What is Vail Pass?
Managed by the US Forest Service, the Vail Pass Recreation area is a 65,000 acre backcountry paradise. There are over 65 miles of motorized trails, over 45 miles of groomed trails and just over 3,000 acres of motorized-assisted (tow-in) ski terrain. Elk Mountain at 12,693 feet is the tallest mountain in the recreation area while the historic Camp Hale is the lowest elevation at 9,100 feet. If you're wondering where to go on Vail Pass, you can check out the trails down by Camp Hale and even stop in the town of Red Cliff for lunch at Mangos Mountain Grill. If you're looking for open powder fields, the Shrine Bowl region offers a popular open field to explore and is easily accessed from the parking spaces at the top of Vail Pass.
Where can you Snowmobile on Vail Pass?
The Vail Pass Snowmobile Map above outlines all of the available areas for Snowmobile Renters and Timbersled Renters to explore as set by the US Forest Service. You are in the Colorado Backcountry as soon as you leave the parking locations so you must be prepared for the unexpected. Avalanche shovels, probes, and beacons should always be in your pack and keep in mind that you will not have cell phone service. You should also carry a GPS device and a topographic map of the area. Vail Pass Colorado offers motorized, non motorized, and backcountry skiing locations, and it is your responsibility to know where you are at all times.
When is the best time to visit Vail Pass?
Weekends on Vail Pass are always the busiest due to heavy "weekend warrior" traffic from Denver, Colorado. With the traffic comes a rush for parking as parking on the pass is limited. We recommend that you arrive early. There is limited parking available at the I-70 Vail Pass Exit and there is a $10 per person fee to park your vehicle so be sure to have some extra cash on hand.