The ruins of Camp Hale, a World War II training ground for elite mountain troopers.

Ten minutes up the road from the Town of Red Cliff, the walled landscape opens to reveal a panorama of perpetually snow-covered alpine ridgelines running high above a rusted-out railroad bed that cuts through the valley floor. During World War II, that track would ferry fresh Army recruits to Camp Hale, the training grounds for 10th Mountain Division soldiers who would go on to win hard-fought battles in the Italian Alps upon Riva Ridge and Mt Belvedere. Vail founder Pete Seibert was a 10th Mountain Division soldier who trained at Camp Hale (his likeness is memorialized by the ski soldier statue near Vail Village’s covered bridge), and the remnants of garrisons from the old encampment are still visible from the road as you pass by on Highway 24, with a pull-off and plaque commemorating the site. Nowadays, the only buzz of activity is from Nova Guides, which operates a lodge near the site and runs guided ATV tours three times a day through the historic area (from $240 per driver, $65 per passenger; 7088 US 24, Red Cliff, 719-486-2656, novaguides.com).

 

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