7 Ways to Play at This Year's GoPro Mountain Games

If you're looking to leave the sidelines during this year's GoPro Mountain Games, try one of these options to jump into the action.

By Kirsten Dobroth May 30, 2019

Canine competitors and their humans at last year's Rocky Dog Trail Run.

When the aspens are in bloom, the rivers start to roar, and thousands of svelte, mountain athletes descend on Vail Village for one long weekend in June, it typically means that the GoPro Mountain Games (June 6-9) are back. For Mountain Games newbies: the Games are an annual celebration of all things mountain sports, with everything from trail running, kayaking, slacklining, and everything in between crammed into four days that also feature sprawling pop-up villages of outdoor gear vendors connecting Vail Village and Golden Peak. As if that wasn't enough—there's also concerts each night at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, with this year's lineup featuring Rapidgrass (Thursday, June 6, 7:15 p.m.) and Melvin Seals & JGB (Thursday, June 6, 8:45 p.m.), Longhorne Slim & The Law (Friday, June 7, 7:15 p.m.) and Joan Osborne (Friday, June 7, 8:45 p.m.), and Band of Heathens (Saturday, June 8, 7:15 p.m.) and Citizen Cope (Saturday, June 8, 8:45 p.m.).

For anyone who has experienced the GoPro Mountain Games before: all that sounds about right, along with a few other notable highlights—namely dock dogs(!), when pups launch themselves off a makeshift dock at Lionshead in a fantastic display of agility and aerodynamics in events like the "Speed Retrieve" and "Extreme Vertical." Then there's Saturday night's Climbing World Cup Finals, which sees the world's premier rock climbers tackle a makeshift climbing wall erected in honor of the event under the shadow of Gondola One atop Bridge Street. And while you might not be up to the task of hanging (quite literally) with the best in the world on the climbing wall under Gondola One (and you're physically incapable of competing in Dock Dogs because ... well, no explanation needed) there are a bunch of ways you can go from spectator to competitor in any number of events.

If you're more interested in going with the flow than the finish line ...

The most approachable way to get into Games? Daily yoga classes at the Games's "Zen Zone," when teachers from across Colorado lead outdoor sessions in the park next to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Classes start at $15 per person (be sure to sign up in advance), and run for one hour. Although, if you'd like to flow for free, you can sign up for Friday and Saturday's "Slackasana" clinics (Friday, June 7, 3:15 p.m. & Saturday, June 8, 10 a.m., Solaris), which feature static yoga poses on a slackline (picture holding Warrior on a tightrope) on the Solaris green. Pro tip: be sure you can actually balance on the line before you enroll in a class.

If you're co-competitor is fur-covered ...

The first day of competition at the GoPro Mountain Games features the Rocky Dog Trail Run (June 6, 5:30 p.m.), when you and your leashed pup can tackle the 5k course on Vail Mountain together. Although, running isn't required if you'd rather use the event as an excuse to take Fido for en extra walk ($55 per pair). 

Mountain Mud Run finishers.

If playing dirty is part of the fun ...

Sign up for the Mountain Mud Run (Saturday, June 8, 2:30 p.m.)—a short jaunt on Vail Mountain that happens to lap two mud pits for competitors to slosh through as they scramble to the finish ($50 per person up to $665 for teams of 20). 

If you're pint-sized ...

Sign your little ones up for any one of the free, kid-friendly clinics running through the Games's tenure in and around Vail Village. Our picks: enlist your little angler in the Kids Cast & Catch on Friday (June 7, 9 a.m.) at the pond at Bighorn Park in East Vail, or stop by the kiddie-proof Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) pool (Friday, June 7 & Saturday, June 8, 1 p.m.) at Adventure Village in Golden Peak.

If you've always dreamed of walking the high line ...

You can head to the  International Bridge at any point during the weekend to see some fearless (and flexible!) displays on the tight rope strung over Gore Creek, or you can try it yourself over—minus the churning whitewater below—at Solaris Plaza, where a baby line over gymnastic mats will be set up for you to give it a go (Thursday, June 6, 4:30 p.m., Friday, June 7, 2:30 p.m., Saturday, June 8, 2:30 p.m., Sunday, June 9, 10 a.m.).

If "frolf-ing" is your idea of fun ...

If you've always dreamed of donning the green jacket, the GoPro Mountain Games' qualifying round for the the Mountain Masters Disc Golf Tournament (June 7, 1 to 5 p.m.) opens on Thursday at courses around the valley, and culminates at an 18-hole championship match at Maloit Park in Minturn on Sunday (June 9, 1 p.m.). What is disc golf (aka frisbee golf, aka frolf)? It's like golf—only imagine tee-ing off with frisbees and aiming for a flagged-metal basket a few hundred yards away as opposed to golf balls and drivers. 

And if you're an all around mountain athlete ...

Try the Ultimate Mountain Challenge (June 6-9), which runs all four days of the Games. Competitors vying for the top spot compete in four disciplines (Kayak, SUP or Raft, Bike, Run, and Fish) and gain points for their results in each category through the course of the mountain sports festival. The only mandatory event that competitors have to try? The Pepi's Face-Off (June 9, 11:30 a.m.), which sees hoards of spectators turn out to watch runners tear up and down Pepi's Face on Vail Mountain regardless of snow, sun, or (lots of) mud. Be warned: we wouldn't advise signing up for this one unless you're in good shape and have experience in the events (especially the water events, as high, fast-moving water in Gore Creek can be extremely dangerous—even to seasoned athletes), although the pay-offs come in the form of one hefty cash prize ($2,000 for the top man and woman competitors). Entry is $300 per participant. 

For a full schedule of events and registration info, go to mountaingames.com.

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