Development of A Classic American Ski Resort


Vail history begins with Ute Indians who spent their summers in the Gore Creek Valley. Following expeditions by frontiersman like George Gore and Jim Bridger (who would name the mountain range after his partner) rumors of gold would later bring flocks of miners to the area. A railroad was constructed to transport their bounty, finally displacing the land’s original inhabitants in the process. The valley was then left for sheep farmers until the construction of Highway 6 in 1939, a year which also marked the beginning of World War II.



Camp Hale, a training facility which taught soldiers skiing and mountain survival techniques, was established about 14 miles south of Vail during this conflict. Having camped on Vail Mountain during their training, veterans Pete Siebert, Bill Brown and Bob Parker returned after the war with the idea of opening a ski resort. With help from Denver investors, construction began in the spring of 1962.


The town of Vail was founded with the resort and officially incorporated in 1966. As the resort began to grow, the town shared its good fortune: from a handful of condos and ski runs, restaurants, a medical clinic and more would appear. President Gerald Ford’s vacation home in Vail would also bring the resort national attention. Vail became so popular in this time that it was even selected to host the Olympics in 1976, before Denver voters refused the proposal.


Rapidly burgeoning into a year-round vacationing spot, Vail would continue to break ground for its skiers in the 1980’s by installing high-speed lifts—the country’s first to have multiple quad-seaters. This decade also would see the mountain and town open year round with additions like new mountain bike trails, sightseeing rides and a variety of other festivals and tournaments. This sense of progress continues today—the resort making a major upgrade to all its lifts in 2013 and adding new activities and adventures every season.


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