Posted by: Tom Boyd
Ever sky-dived off a cliff in a wingsuit? How about dropping over a 60-foot waterfall in your kayak? Anyone up for a free-solo first ascent of that granite peak off in the distance … or maybe you’re more the endurance type, and are looking to go for a 100-mile jog through the mountains?
Truth is, most of us aren’t adrenaline junkies on the scale that wins big internet points when you post the video. But a lot of the athletes who we’ve seen in those amazing GoPro videos online are coming to town in person June 7-10 for the annual GoPro Mountain Games, which organizers say is the best all-around mountain experience available anywhere in the world.
It’s not just the amazing feats of mountain athleticism that make the Mountain Games so popular (more than 70,000 spectators enjoyed the event last year, cheering on more than 3,300 athletes). A big part of this event’s success is that everyday joes/josephenes can get out there and compete right alongside the world’s best.
But another, maybe even bigger, part of the Mountain Games fun are the seemingly endless FREE activities available to everyone who takes part.
Spectating is top of that list. Spectating, of course, is free – and there’s a lot to watch. The legendary Steep Creek Championship at Homestake Creek just outside Red Cliff is where it all kicks off Thursday morning June 7. From there, the action doesn’t stop until the traditional 8-ball Kayak Sprint on Sunday afternoon, June 10, on Gore Creek. In between are more than 13 different disciplines and 25+ events, including a Bike-centric Friday in Eagle with the GoPro Mtn Enduro as well as two new BMX events, and the immensely popular Mountain Masters Disc Golf which will take place in multiple locations throughout the valley this year.
All weekend in Vail Village and Lionshead, the town will be alive with DockDogs, trail running, mountain biking, slackline, kayak, SUP, rafting, yoga, fly fishing, and probably the most popular spectator event of the weekend, the TIAA Bank IFSC World Cup climbing finals at Mountain Plaza beginning Saturday at 3 p.m.
Then there’s the TIAA Bank Kids’ FREE bike race, Outdoor Reels,the Silent Disco … and that’s all before you even get to L.L.Bean Gear Town, a compilation of more than 140 sponsor booths and tents that amounts to a “farmer’s market” of outdoor gear and lifestyle brands.
It’s a lot to take in, so we put together a few highlights of all the FREE events going on during the GoPro Mountain Games so that everyone from newbies to seasoned veterans can get out there and make the most of one of the largest celebrations of athletes, art, music, and mountains anywhere in the world – and probably score a lot of cool swag in the meantime.
What: GoPro Mountains of Music
Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater & Check Point Charlie (see MAP for more)
When: Headliner concerts @ GRFA on Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Live music @ Checkpoint Charlie each day (check schedule)
Description: Come experience the magic of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, the pristine & intimate venue nestled on Gore Creek just a short stroll East from Vail Village. All concerts remain free and the venue offers multiple bars, covered seating, lawn seating and world class food. This year, catch one of eight free concerts including the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Wood Brothers, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, & the Playing for Change Band. Full schedule HERE.
What: GoPro Daily Give-a-way
Where: The GoPro Experience at Solaris Plaza (see MAP for more)
When: Daily at 3 p.m., Thursday – Sunday
Description: Sign up to win a free GoPro camera
What: GMC Choose Your Own Adventure
Where: The GMC Kayak Cabin just South of the International Bridge (see MAP for more)
When: Throughout the event
Description: Start at the GMC Kayak Cabin and get a Professional Grade backpack and passport. Then visit other GMC Outposts to get your passport stamped to earn cool gear.
What: Catch Athlete Interviews and Live Event Commentary @ The Go RVing Studio
Where: At the Kayak Hole at the I-Bridge (see MAP for more)
When: Throughout the Event
Description: OutsideTV will be broadcasting from their homebase all weekend long; the Go RVing Studio. Bring your homemade signs and lots of energy and maybe you’ll end up with a cameo on the GoPro Mountain Games TV show, airing this autumn on OutsideTV.
What: Lorissa’s Kitchen bloody Mary’s
Where: Lorissa’s Kitchen booth on Meadow Drive just across the street from Solaris (see MAP for more)
When: Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11 a.m.
Description: Cool off and pep up with Lorissa’s Kitchen bloody Mary’s for the first 100 people to arrive. Must be 21+ and have ID
What: TIAA Bank Zip Line
Where: Covered Bridge in Vail Village (see MAP for more)
When: Friday – Sunday during L.L.Bean Gear Town hours
Description: The immensely popular zip line across Gore Creek is a hit with the little ones (and some full-sized people too!).
What: L.L.Bean Daily Giveaways
Where: L.L.Bean tent on Willow Bridge Road near I-Bridge (see MAP for more)
When: 4 p.m daily Thursday – Sunday
Description: Come check out the L.L.Bean booth and win all kinds of cool gear, including SUPs, camping gear, gift cards, etc.
What: Pacifico Food & Beer Garden
Where: Check Point Charlie (see MAP for more)
When: Daily all day
Description: Kick back and relax at the center of it all at the Pacifico Food & Beer garden located at CheckPoint Charlie. With green “grass” carpeting, seats, shade, and live music performances, this is perhaps the chilliest vibe in the whole event. Although the food and beverages will still cost money, hanging out, enjoying the scene, and listening to tunes is free.
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