The GoPro Mountain Games Make a High-Flying and Hard-Charging Return to Vail Village

The GoPro Mountain Games makes its 17th annual stop in Vail, marking the largest celebration of adventure sports in the country, and the official start to summer in the valley.

By Tom Winter Edited by Kirsten Dobroth June 6, 2016


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Let’s get this party started! The party, of course, is the GoPro Mountain Games that descend on the Vail Valley this year from June 7–10. Why do we – and the thousands of locals and visitors that flood Vail Village each year – love the games? Aside from the fact that the games annually mark the beginning of summer in our happy valley, the event puts a spotlight on a hodgepodge of lesser-known mountain sports with a combination of professionals, semi-professionals, and recreational athletes who come to town to compete each year. Think the Olympics, but if the Olympics were held in a mountain town, and instead of pole vaulting and curling consisted of mountain running, rafting, rock climbing, slack lining, kayaking – you get the point.

There’s a lot of ways to get involved in this event, from watching to running to swag hunting in the event village. How you approach it is up to you. And we wouldn’t presume to tell you how or what to do. But that being said, we can’t help but point out a few of the highlights (i.e. must-see athletic events, music lineups, and sweet deals on outdoor gear) that makes the GoPro Games one of the most beloved celebrations of mountain culture in the valley.

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Sure, there will be a lot of pro athletes in the Valley for this event. But, remind us, just how much do Pro Slackline athletes make each year? Since you’re not going to be breathing in that rarified air, perhaps a more accessible sport is in the cards? That’s why we’re bullish on the Superfeet Apres 5K Run. For only $20 (or $35 for an added swag bag) you – yes you! –can enter this short and fun race, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8th, or try the Rocky Dog Trail Run 5k – Thursday, June 7th at 5:30 p.m. – for a chance to stand upon the podium beside your four-legged friend. Although, if downward facing is more your speed, don't miss the daily yoga classes led by some of the valley's – and the country's – most recognizable instructors at Ford Park. The newest way to get involved in the Games, though (without the leg-work)? This year's Whole 30 Dinner (Thursday, June 7, 6 p.m., $150 per person), led by Whole30 co-creator and Certified Sports Nutritionist Melissa Hartwig and hosted by Golden Peak's Larkspur Restaurant, which will be preparing a four-course meal for health-conscious foodies to fuel up before a weekend full of events.

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If you’re like us, you’re probably going to skip the Superfeet Apres 5k run and take in the action (no harm in being a “pro” spectator, right?). You’ll have your work cut out for you given the diversity of events, athletes and competitions that happen over the four days of this event, but despite all the action, there’s one – okay two – events that everyone should try to catch that always draws crowd at the GoPro Mountain Games. What are they? The Dockdogs Outdoor Big Air and the DockDogs Speed Retrieve events, in which our furry friends challenge themselves to travel the farthest or fastest off a dock before landing in a nice cool pool of water. The action is compelling, the athletes have no egos and you’ll leave with a smile on your face. Some of the high-flying, fur-covered competitors travel the country as pros, and some are just some water-loving locals, but regardless, there's always a hefty mix of pups and their humans on hand to catch both events, which run each day June 7-10.

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You like music, we like music. And obviously the folks at GoPro like music as well because this year’s lineup is stellar, and it's also free (as in you pay no money, VIP style baby!). Local acts like Bonfire Dub and Brothers Keeper are just a few of the bands that you’ll be able to catch at this year’s GoPro Mountain Games–along with Red Rocks staples like The Wood Brothers–at Golden Peak's Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Too much too choose from, and don’t know which show to go to? Relax, neither do we, but that's all part of the fun–just kick back and enjoy the mountain vibes.

See the full schedule of events here.

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