Do you want to soar like an eagle? Travel through the forest canopy like a squirrel? Find out if you’re as strong as a bear? See the world through the eyes of a trout? This summer, Vail Resorts will embark on a new adventure as Epic Discovery debuts at Vail Mountain in Colorado and Heavenly Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe. Epic Discovery provides a unique, connected, on-mountain summer experience, immersing guests in activities which provide big-time thrills, allow them to challenge themselves physically, guide them to explore and better understand their natural surroundings, and ultimately create lifelong memories.
“Epic Discovery will provide an avenue for our summer guests to experience our alpine settings in a new, immersed way, similar to what our ski and snowboard guests experience in the winter,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “Vail Resorts, along with our partners at the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy, envisions Epic Discovery as a catalyst for helping to foster a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors among a diverse audience of summer visitors to the mountains.”
This first-of-its-kind comprehensive on-mountain summer adventure will feature components such as zip lines, canopy tours, alpine coasters, wildlife trail exploration, and interactive, “learn-through-play” activities, which will debut at Vail and Heavenly in June and at Breckenridge in 2017.
“Epic Discovery offers families the opportunity to learn through play together in the national forest,” Jarnot continued. “For kids, it will be the ultimate playground in an alpine setting.”
Vail Mountain’s Epic Discovery proposal received final approval from the U.S. Forest Service in October 2014, and the resort began construction the following summer. Vail’s existing Adventure Ridge has already undergone enhancements with the addition of two rope challenge courses, summer tubing, a four-line Zip Flyer, as well as a kids’ challenge course and kids’ zip line.
In June, Vail Mountain, located on the White River National Forest, will debut the following Epic Discovery experiences:
- Game Creek Canopy Tour: The ultimate outdoor experience, this guided tour will immerse guests in the forest habitat with an array of zip lines and aerial bridges as high as 300 feet above the valley floor. Guests will learn about the mountain environment from interpretive guides while working their way through the course.
- Forest Flyer™: This gravity-based alpine coaster allows guests on individual sleds to descend on a raised track through the forest while giving riders full control of their speed.
- Expanded Trail System: A wildlife exploration trail, featuring mountain flora and fauna and a series of installations that each resembles a different animal ability, such as vision, stride, agility and strength. Vail has partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the USFS and Walking Mountains Science Center to bring interpretive elements to the Epic Discovery experiences and will be contributing one percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue to The Nature Conservancy for forest restoration projects.
Heavenly’s Epic Discovery project, which received final approval on May 14, 2015, has already seen the implementation of several new on-mountain adventures, including a permanent rock climbing wall and kids ropes course and zip line, all located at Adventure Peak at the top of the Heavenly Gondola.
Opening in June, Heavenly’s Epic Discovery will feature:
- Canopy Tour: Set amongst the pines surrounding the mid-station observation deck of Heavenly’s Gondola, this guided tour will immerse guests in the forest habitat with an array of zip lines and aerial bridges featuring an unfiltered view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.
- Alpine Coaster: This gravity-based alpine coaster allows guests on individual sleds to descend on a raised track through the forest and natural rock formations, with incredible scenic views of Lake Tahoe. Located near the existing summer tubing hill, the alpine coaster will utilize gravity for the descent while giving riders full control of their speed.
- Guided 4x4 Mountain Tours: Guests will enjoy Heavenly’s stunning view from the cab of an off-roading SUV. These 4x4 tours offer the best of an alpine summer with views of Lake Tahoe, the Carson Valley and Desolation Wilderness.
- Interpretive Learning: Heavenly’s project integrates a robust interpretive learning component with curriculum created in collaboration with the Forest Service, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and The Nature Conservancy.
Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Epic Discovery proposal to the USFS received its final record of decision on Nov. 16, 2015, and includes adventure hiking zones, plus additional activities including zip lines, canopy tours and ropes courses, all with extensive environmental and interpretive programming. Construction is expected to begin during summer 2016 and will include the following primary activities and enhancements: