"If you are lucky enough to be in the mountains, then you’re lucky enough” reads the plaque hanging on the door of a rambling vacation home that sits just off of Cresta in Arrowhead, the gentle ribbon of skiable terrain on the westernmost perimeter of Beaver Creek in Edwards. And while luck may not have anything to do with the real estate market’s current tenuous but hardy renaissance in the Vail Valley, there’s a certain amount of truth to the simple aphorism that graces this doorway.

Luck had it that Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton skinned up a powder-blessed mountain with no name on a March day in 1957—and five years later launched one of the world’s most famous and successful ski resorts. And luck had it that in 1970 a ski enthusiast and member of Congress named Gerald Ford borrowed $50,000 from his children’s insurance policy and bought a condominium at the Lodge at Vail, then seven years later as 38th president presided over the groundbreaking of Beaver Creek, where he built a 11,200-square-foot ski chalet just off of the Strawberry Park run that now bears his name.

That chalet sold in June 2015 for a cool $6.65 million. In fact, there were 1,235 residential transactions in the valley in 2015, totaling $1.3 billion—eclipsing, for perspective, the gross domestic product of Antigua, an island nation and vacation destination with a population of 90,000 (compared to Eagle County’s 52,460). As for new inventory, 121 homes were built and sold last year, and 128 plots of vacant land changed hands. That’s the best the area market has been since the dawn of the Great Recession. And in case you were wondering, the median price of the 801 active listings from East Vail to Gypsum is ... wait for it ... $1.65 million.

Yes, there may be some sticker shock. But with the world-class ski resorts (including new summer amusements like Vail Mountain’s Forest Flyer alpine coaster and Game Creek Bowl zip-line canopy tour), a thriving arts scene (witness Joshua Bell leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields at Bravo! Vail this summer), the 2.3 million-acre forest in Vail’s backyard with amazing hike and bike-to attractions and quick access to Denver via the Interstate, who wouldn’t want to put down roots here? As Vail Board of Realtors chair Kyle Denton puts it, “The Vail Valley offers the best of everything.”

Whether you’re navigating the market for a vacation home, thinking about relocating from the Front Range or the Texas panhandle, living here already, or wishing you did, we asked real estate agents, locals, and absentee homeowners to help guide us through today’s market and pinpoint what makes each of the valley’s (by our count) 25 mountain towns and neighborhoods the special places they are. Follow their lead, and with any luck you’ll find your place here to call home—and maybe a four-leaf clover, too.

In This Feature:

Alpine Living in one of Vail's Best Neighborhoods

Winter comes early to East Vail but that's just how those who live here like it.

06/13/2016

Vail Village/Lionshead

Life in the center of everything.

06/13/2016

West Vail

From funky chalets to high end design, a place for everyone.

06/13/2016

Minturn/Red Cliff

Old school but not old fashioned.

06/13/2016

Avon and Eagle Vail

Family friendly.

06/13/2016

Beaver Creek

Ski racing meets golf meets tranquility.

06/13/2016

Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Wildridge and Mountain Star

From views to golf to mountain biking, these communities have it all.

06/13/2016

Great Neighborhoods for Families

Community, kids, and culture make Edwards, Miller Ranch, Homestead and Singletree prime locations for locals who no longer want to play the rental game.

06/13/2016

Lake Creek and Cordillera

The hidden gems of the valley.

06/13/2016

Wolcott, Red Sky and Bellyache Ridge

Views that go on forever.

06/13/2016

Real Estate Spotlight on the Affordable Down-Valley Communities of Eagle, Eagle Ranch and Gypsum

Peaceful down-valley lifestyle and prices that remain in reach make these communities a good choice for locals and families looking to purchase their first home.

06/13/2016