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Vail History

During the 1800s, Ute Indians and pioneer hunters roamed the peaceful valley that is present-day Vail. Explorers Jim Bridger and Lord Gore explored the area from 1854 to 1856; Bridger named the high mountain peaks surrounding Vail to the east the Gore Range in honor of his friend.

Back in the 1940s, the Army's 10th Mountain Division trained at Camp Hale near Leadville during World War II. When the war was over, 10th Mountain Division veterans Pete Seibert, Bill "Sarge" Brown and Bob Parker came back to the Gore Valley with an idea. They would establish a ski area in the idyllic mountain area. The trio established Vail in 1962; lift ticket prices were $5 (a regular one-day lift ticket now runs approximately $95).

The town and base areas were built around the ski resort. Vail Village was first, followed by Lionshead (both the Village and Lionshead have seen some serious updating and new properties in the past four years). Vail’s sister resort, Beaver Creek (located above the town of Avon, about 15 minutes down I-70), opened in 1980.The ski area continued to expand with more terrain, including the now legendary back bowls, and state-of-the-art lift services. Former President Gerald R. Ford and his wife, Betty, were voracious skiers and huge fans of the Vail area; they frequented it often. You can see the effect of his patronage by the various highways and buildings bearing his name. Other celebrities who enjoy Vail include Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and ‘Today’ show anchor Matt Lauer.

As the reputation of the ski resort grew, guests started recognizing the allure of Vail in the summertime and flocked to the extensive hiking and biking trails, gold medal fly fishing waters and award-winning golf courses that could be experienced at a fraction of the winter price tag.