Just the FAQs, M'am
Vail Stables is located 1 mile NE of the Vail Village in Vail, CO. We’re the closest stables to the town and the best of course!
We are off of Spraddle Creek Road, which heads east, out of the north-side roundabout, at the Main Vail Exit #176 off I-70.
Driving Directions: From the main vail Exit #176, get into the North Side Round-A-Bout and turn right onto Spraddle Creek Road. Go up the hill one mile and for Heaven’s sake DO NOT PUSH THE BUTTON AT THE GATES TO SPRADDLE CREEK ESTATES!! That is a private housing community and they are over it!
Look to the right as you enter the circle and you will see our tiny sign and dirt road. We are 50 yards up the dirt road. We promise you, that you will not drive off the edge if you simply do not turn your wheel towards the side. Your car will not spontaneously swerve to the right and run off the edge.
Park like you are in a lot with lines, even though there aren’t any, ~close together and straight.
The yellow line shows the path from the Main Vail Exit to the stables. As the crow flies.
The view if you are skiing down Vail Mountain.
The view if you are flying from Denver over the town of Vail.
The view if you are flying to Denver over the town of Vail.
Scenic, mountainous terrain that starts at 8400ft in elevation and goes up, up, up and then down, down, much like the ski slopes. Heavily treed in some areas, wide open vistas in others. Mountain meadows, forested areas, immense aspen glades.
No cliffs or drop-offs to worry about. The horses stay on the trail in all of the important areas.
Our trails are designed like a snowman laying on the mountain with each trail extending and climbing higher in elevation and deeper into the forest.
The Rocky Point Trail is the bottom ball of the snowman. Up to 9000ft in elevation, this trail is every bit as spectacular as the other additional trails. Best for parents of 5 and 6 yr olds.
The Bear Hollow trail is the Rocky Point trail, extending to the middle ball of the snowman. Up to 9200ft in elevation. 5 yrs +
The Dark Timber includes the Rocky Point Trail and the , the middle ball and the head. Up to 9400ft in elevation. 7 yrs +
We are not on flat, sagebrush, lowland areas. The stable office sits at 8400ft.
Irregular. Most days, we are ready to receive GOGA guests by 7:30 a.m. Then around 4 or 5 p.m., the horses are ready to eat.
The bar is open Noon through Happy Hour most days, which is around 6:30. As in, we are open as long as someone is ordering drinks and seems Happy, or if we have staff to run it. But if there is live music, it’s open until 7:00.
Operates seven days a week. Usually.
Absolutely. YES!!! The limit for horseback riding is 220pounds. People over 6 feet tall can weigh up to 240 pounds. People over 6’4″ can weigh 260 pounds. We do weigh you on the scale if our professional weight guesser is off for the day.
Please be aware that you would still pay, still pay, still pay for the time slot you’ve reserved should you exceed the weight limit. You bought a time slot!!!!
Yes. The age limit for adult-only horseback rides is 18+.
The limit for the all-ages horseback rides is 5+. So if your child is 5-1/2 or 6 you don’t have to call to check to see if that last sentence is true. Seriously, we are too busy getting people on an off horses to verify the answer to this question on the phone. No kidding, people call to ask, “I see on your website it says 5 yr-olds can ride. So does that mean it’s okay for my 6 year-old to ride?”. It’s difficult to say yes.
This is how it works. If your child is 5 or 6 (not 4-11/12, even with bribe money, because the insurance company said so. It’s like saying, “I am 20 years and 360 days old. Can I get a drink?”). They will sit on a larger horse in a tiny saddle. The guide will lead your child’s horse, No, the guide will not walk the entire 2-5 miles on foot leading your child’s horse. He will be riding his horse and holding a long lead line to your child’s horse. If there are multiple 5-6 yr olds, there will be multiple guides. If the number of 5 yr olds in your group exceeds 2, there will be an upcharge of $65 per guide for the 3rd, 4th, 5th… 5-6 yr old.
Note how the girl is not using the reins, the guide is holding a blue lead rope to her horse.
Strict. Really Strict. We are genuinely sorry that we must have a strict cancellation policy. We realize that this policy may come as a real disappointment and a shock to the system. We hope that you will understand that the policy reflects an extraordinary range of determining factors. It is painful that we must upset any of our superb guests. If you must pay the full cancellation fee, it is our hope that your overall vacation delight will soon erase any disappointment regarding our cancellation policy, and that you will go on to create a beautiful vacation slideshow.
Please do not book a ride on your travel day. Travel dilemmas are not an exception to the cancellation policy.
You must be fit enough to ride a horse both mentally and physically. If you book a time slot and chicken-out, panic, or are too stiff to mount the horse, well, you might feel stiffed ~because you are paying for the time slot, not the ride up the mountain.
A full 48 hours and 5 minutes notice is required to cancel, change, alter, subtract people, change your mind, get sick, stub your toe, eat too much, develop bad gas, find something better to do, have a brooding teenager, a family emergency, a new injury, wreck your car, double-book yourself, your plane is delayed, or ANY other reason to avoid a cancellation fee equaling the entire ride price. Calling with an exceptional story will not an exception make.
You are guaranteeing your arrival and usage of the time slot or yoga mat blocked out of the schedule with your credit card. Calling to bluster and spout will not change this strict policy, ~and you wouldn’t want to miss out on the greatest adventure in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
For those that enjoy disputing charges because you can’t abide by cancellation policies, please book with our competition.
That would be a bad idea up here. If you are a VIP at a local resort and accustomed to a certain treatment, this is NOT the place for you. The cancellation policy still applies. You still have to arrive on time. You still have to pay full price. You must treat the staff with respect and have gratitude for their service and the horses’ muscular exertion.
We have Frog Togs and yellow slickers, Colorado style. Yes, we do ride in the rain! Many guests have returned from a ride beaming with satisfaction, claiming the ride was the best of their life. The forest sparkles and sings in the rain.
Your ride may be delayed as long as 60 minutes to allow major storms to pass. Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening me, (Galilelo)… It passes by quickly.
Rides in progress may be cut short due to major lightning and will not be refunded nor issued rain checks. No exceptions. We sit in the banana belt of Vail and normally do not have any problems with the weather.
The summer 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 weather forecast was wrong EVERY DAY!!!
The forecast has ruined many more vacations than the actual weather.
Don’t ask Kade. The answer is always “clothes.”
Folks, we have seen everything from mini skirts and high heels to parkas and leather pants, and the horses didn’t seem to mind!
We recommend a fleece jacket, long pants (jeans leggings, khakis, capris, etc. — because chapped thighs are worse than chapped lips), t-shirt, sturdy shoes (tennis shoes, hiking boots, Keens, etc.), and a hat.
We do provide slickers and helmets free of charge. And we recommend that everyone wear a helmet. They don’t call them the Rocky Mountains because they are giant sand hills. If you opt out, we have many loaner hats.
We do not recommend flip flops or Crocs.
Wear sunscreen too!
(This picture isn’t sideways on the editor.) Any WordPress experts out there?
It depends on what you want us to find on the trail next year.
Lost keys, phones, and wallets are swallowed up by the forest floor. There are horn bags on the front of the saddles for your belongings. We’ll hold your keys if you trust us enough.
Small water bottles are recommended. It’s a struggle to fit a 40 oz water bottle into the horn bags! Bring your camera, a selfie stick, and a big smile!
Don’t for get to bring a jacket too!
Voted the BEST OUTHOUSE IN VAIL!! There is a sexy, unisex, vault-style, concrete facility with a lockable door located in the parking area. Don’t forget to flush! It’s cleaned every day. If you find it unacceptable, please don’t use the bushes. Someone will take your picture.
There are no restrooms located on the trail, so we suggest you visit the facility prior to checking in at the office. It’s a small brown building in the parking lot with a large restroom sign hanging on it.
Can we talk about parking? OM!!. There will be about 25 cars, besides yours, in our tiny lot. Please park close together so we don’t have to ask you to move in our game of Tetris Parking.
We do sell frosty, cold bottled water and have a large supply of sunscreen on hand. It is recommended you apply it 30 minutes prior to ride time.
We also have that germ-killing gel that helps you combat germs to make you healthier (cough — or sick, more often). According to Aunt Pat, you have to eat a bushel of dirt a year to be healthy.
Book: Eat Dirt!
YES, the guides pay for college, or their children‘s lunches and jeans with their tips. If you do enjoy your ride, hug your horse and tip your guide.
We do charge an auto-gratuity of 18% on groups of 6 or more. (Big groups are usually a cluster of chaos, indecision and random runs back to the car.). We should charge double for big groups but they make us laugh too much.
Nope. Wild as all get out.
Seriously, gentle is all we allow at the ranch.
If you are looking for a spirited, fast horse with whom you can gallop with the wind in your hair, this may not be the place for you.
Here’s a cute sign…
For fast riders, we have fast horses.
For slow riders, we have slow horses.
For people that have never ridden before, we have horses that have never ridden before.
We are not sure how it could be anything but nose-to-tail. The trail is only 12 inches wide! The USFS would frown upon our treading on the area to the side of the trails. The fact that we climb 600 feet in elevation in the first 20 minutes keeps most riders very occupied. After that, the aspen trees are so close together, one could conceivably clunk their knee pretty hard if they went off trail.
There are the various horse personalities that are involved. Some do not like others to pass or invade their space. There is a hierarchy within every herd. The horses are lined up according to their friendships.
Having said that, we do allow trotting for a little excitement! The guides will show you the safest spots to kick it into second gear.
Advanced riders that are super experienced and want the horse to gallop up the mountain for your enjoyment- you first!
We have various beverages and snacks available for sale at the bar. After the ride, you can belly up to the bar at the Crooked Cow Saloon for an adult beverage and snacks. For the kids we have Capri Sun, juice, soda or seltzer.
We also have T-shirts in various styles and all sizes, and old tack used by the horses at Vail Stables over the last 30 years too. Pick anything off of the wall with a price tag, and it can be yours!
Have the parents sign the waiver, and you can deliver it when you visit. Download the waiver here.Outlaw-Ranch-Release
No coupons in any of the guide books, nor specials. If you bring cookies or brownies, Pedro will pay you $5
Don’t walk. Don’t ride a bike, unless you are really fit! Call Uber or a Taxi. Or drive your own car. Or select Big Buck’s Upgrade and receive a free shuttle ride to and from the stables.
Most of the hotels in Vail will run you up in one of their shuttles and retrieve you after the ride. Otherwise, taxis can be reasonable if you work the sticker price before entering the cab.
Buses do not come our way.
Don’t let anyone (wink, wink, concierges) tell you we are close to town, and that you can just walk up the hill. A one-mile, uphill walk doesn’t seem like a problem, until you are in the middle of the mile. Unless you are in the actual town of Vail, everything is up a hill.
Complaints happen. We know. But if you have a serious complaint, please submit in the following format:
These are actual complaints received by Thomas Cook Vacations from dissatisfied customers:
1. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
2. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
19. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”
Here’s one we received recently.
“We booked a one hour and were offered the opportunity to upgrade to a two hour so that we wouldn’t ride with noisy children. Then we were charged for the upgrade and we don’t appreciate that.”
You cannot go wrong. They’re all great! Great views, amazing forest, maybe some deer!
The one hour has an amazing view point and skims the edge of the thickest Aspen Glade. 5 yrs +
The 1.5 hour trails up along the creek and enters the Enchanted Forest and pauses on a wide open viewpoint for pictures. 5 yrs +
The two hour has two amazing view points, and enters the Enchanted Forest but does not go along the creek. 7 yrs +
Yes! 1 hour ride = 1 hour on the horse 1.5 hour ride = 1.5 hours on the horse 2 hour ride = 2 hours on the horse
No stops for snacks. That sounds like a weird statement on its own, but it’s a frequently asked question.