Vail, Colorado, is synonymous with superior skiing. But when snowfall is a few months away, a visit to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, a short trek along the Gore Greek near Vail's well-known Covered Bridge, is a 'must see.'
The walk along the Gore Creek is its own reward, but wandering through the lush gardens exploding with brilliantly colored blooms is electrifying. The higher altitude in the Colorado mountains apparently accounts for the vivid colors seen here. The purples are deeper. The blues are richer. And the reds radiant.
Originally founded in 1985 by the Vail Alpine Garden Foundation, the gardens were renamed in 1988 to honor the former first lady's enormous dedication to the local community.
With over 3,000 species of 'high altitude plants' from the Rocky Mountains, to regions around the world, the gardens introduce visitors to four distinct sections within the grounds. These areas developed over the course of several years.
The Mountain Perennial Garden in 1989 led to the Mountain Meditation Garden in 1991, followed by the Alpine Rock Garden in 1999, to the fanciful Children's Garden in 2002.
A waterfall rushes down through the boulders artfully placed towards the top of the garden, linking the stone steps with the various walking paths meandering along the flowering beds.
Perhaps the greatest treat is watching the magical antics of the numerous hummingbirds zipping from flower to flower, occasionally resting briefly on a nearby branch, or landing on a wrought iron garden ornament near the gift shop.
At 8,250 square feet above sea level, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are reportedly the highest botanical gardens in the U.S.
Mrs. Ford perhaps best described the garden experience when she was quoted saying, in 1991, "...these winding paths...bring an introspection and sense of calm too often missing in our lives."
Those words remain true today.
Your comments are always welcome . Please consider subscribing to my articles to automatcally get them in your email whenever I post a new story by clicking the Subscribe button near my name . You can always unsubscribe at any time.