Soon you'll be able to ski powder in the winter and ride an alpine coaster in the summer, all without leaving Vail, Colorado. Vail Resorts just announced that plans for an Epic Discovery adventure center got the major and final green light from the U.S. Forest Service. First announced in July 2012, the project is made possible by the 2011 Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act that allows ski areas to add summer amenities to existing ski resorts operating on federal land. King of making its resorts four-season destinations, Vail's plans for Epic Discovery are the largest and first of its kind following the law's passage. Sure, there are loads of activities at the base of most mountains these days, and there are even a few alpine slides. But Vail Resorts doesn't do anything small and believe us, this $25 million, Disneyland-esque project is huge.
According to a press release from Vail, the plans include:
· Micro-Interpretive Centers for Education: Integrated with trails and activities around the mountain, these interpretive experiential centers will provide guests with hands-on information and activities about forest health, wildlife and the mountain geography of the White River National Forest.
· Game Creek and Front Side Zip Line Tours: The ultimate outdoor experiences, these guided tours will immerse guests in the forest habitat with an array of zip lines and aerial bridges. Expect the half-day Game Creek tour to debut in 2016, with the Front Side Tour following.
· More Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails: Between 55 to 65 miles of new trails will be added. For biking, expect more family friendly options similar to Radio Flyer and an extension of the Grand Traverse into other Back Bowls. Look for more short, intermediate hiking trails similar to Fireweed.
· Family Forest Adventure Park: A playground of rope challenges and bridges to introduce young children to the wonders of the forest.
· Forest Flyer™: An alpine coaster that runs on raised rails, the Forest Flyer™ winds its way down the mountain, following the natural contours of the landscape through the forest.
· Wildwood Observation Deck: A panoramic viewing balcony nestled within awe-inspiring scenery of alpine forests, meadows of wildflowers and wildlife.
The details of the project are still subject to design review, but this latest round of approvals from the U.S. Forest Service was a major step. Vail Resorts hopes to begin construction in summer 2015, with most activities up and running in summer 2016. The company has similar plans in the works for Breckenridge and Heavenly. On the one hand, zip lines, alpine coasters, and more trails will bring much-needed tourist dollars and family-friendly activities to the summertime ski hill. On the other, some will likely bemoan the commercialization of the mountains. What's your take, Curbediverse?
· Epic Discovery summer plans receive green light [Vail Daily]
· Epic Discovery [Official Site]
· What It Means To Ski in a Vail-Dominated World [Curbed Ski]
· What Vail's Purchase of Park City Means for Skiers This Year [Curbed Ski]
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