GoPro Mountain Games 6.10 - 6.13.21

Vail, CO

Words by Elliot Siff Photography

Each June the GoPro Mountain Games event brings athletes, art, music and mountains together in Vail, Colorado drawing 2,000+ pro and amateur athletes in 12+ disciplines and 30+ events such as whitewater events, dog jumping competitions, bicycling, slack lining, running and much more. During the Gopro Mountain games the town of Vail gets a chance to showcase all it has to offer with live music in the streets and venues, adventure competitions and demonstrations, gear and product demos in “Gear Town” and so much more. It's a glorious and inspiring weekend with something to offer for anyone with adventure and entertainment around each bend.

Only a few short months ago, it was unclear exactly what the 2021 GoPro Mountain Games in Vail would look and feel like.  As late as May of 2021, it wasn’t clear if the event would be able to fully welcome spectators, a difficult pill to swallow for an event that drew 83,000+ spectators to the area in 2019. By May 19, the vast majority of public health restrictions that govern the event were lifted, and in a few short weeks the event was able to grow in terms of events offered, venue footprints, spectator numbers and athlete participation. Tens of thousands of spectators came to Vail to enjoy the event over four days, and more than 2,000 unique pro and amateur athletes took part in competitions ranging from trail running, road/mountain/e bike events, white water events like kayak free style and SUP downriver sprint, a disc golf competition, fishing events, dog competitions including the jumping masters of Dock Dogs and much, much more.  

Music always plays a key role in the Gopro Mountain Games and this year was no different. On Thursday evening Yonder Mountain String Band played at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater for their first “real”, non socially distanced, sold out concert since the pandemic took hold. The energy from the band and crowd was off the charts. During the days two stages offer up great free music right by all of the events.  Unique collaborations and Colorado bands played in the hot summer sun as folks saw everything on offer. These shows felt like “only in Colorado” moments, with artists from bands like Dark Star Orchestra, Circles Around the Sun, The Motet and more casually playing amazing tunes on a beautiful afternoon.  

This year the addition of Bob Weir performing Friday and Saturday night at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater brought in an additional crowd of dedicated deadheads to the valley. During the weekend folks in tie dyes were mingling around town enjoying the festivities as well prior to some top notch, intimate 2500 person concerts with Bob Weir’s expanded Wolf Brothers/Wolf Pack outfit featuring legendary producer Don Was on upright bass, Jeff Chimenti on piano, Jay Lane on Drums and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar. In addition to the 5 man Wolf Pack, the group brought out a a three horn, violin and cello 5 piece outfit to join them for some thoughtful and expansive orchestrated takes on Grateful Dead classics.

Having now been in Vail to experience all this event/weekend has to offer, I couldn't imagine missing the unique and fun variety of events and entertainment that overtakes Vail each year for the GoPro Mountain Games presented b the Vail Valley Foundation. It's a special, truly Colorado experience.


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