My family has gone to the GoPro Mountain Games for the last four years. This will mark our fifth year. As a veteran competitor, spectator, and family wrangler at the games I think I have some decent advice to share and can help field some questions if it will help. The games are in Vail June 8-11 this year.
The games are absolutely so family-friendly I was in the Mountain Click Comp with a 2-month old four years ago. They have only worked to make them even more inclusive since then.
First off it will be 90 degrees in Denver this weekend… um, you do know that the temps in Vail will be much more forgiving? Get yourself up to the games. They are FREE. The parking is FREE. And there is a ton of stuff to do that is FREE, low-cost, or at any budget you want to get involved with.
If staying overnight there are still some lodging deals you can snag through the Mountain Games site, you can AirBnb, or there is even the bunkhouse. For the family I LOVE the Vail Westwind because it is far enough away from the main village to be quiet, has an amazing playground behind it, and there is a free shuttle nearby to get to main action of the games. If I am not going with kids I love GoPro central at Sonnelalp or right around there. I also know folks who like to camp but I have not done that option yet. Last year we had a large group with out-of-town friends/family competing so did a large AirBnB that was far away but right by the shuttle loop. If going up on a day trip or multiple day trips from Denver go early so you can park nearby in one of the free parking garages. Denver is so close you can do that option and still go multiple days.
The SCHEDULE!! What to do?? This is where I can make this post so super long but I will try to truncate as much as I can do. I am not going to mention stuff for competitors because if you are scheduled to compete I really hope you got your beta down. I am putting asteriks down by some of the crowd favorites:
BIKE: Great event to watch for the action shots. Set up near jumps and look at timing with sun position in sky. Bring your bike to play on courses when competition is not going on. There is a free kids XC mountain bike event. For the road events you will see start and finish but these riders have a heck of a course at elevation so cheer loud!
CLIMB: Want to see some American Ninja Warriors on the wall? I am not even kidding. Some of our local TV heroes do this comp. Bring a chair, get comfy. The citizen comp is a lot of fun too. We had two condo guests compete and do well in this last year.
DISC: There are night time glow in the dark events as well as the main comp.
DOGS: So much cuteness in the Dock Dog comps*** and just walking around the village. As much as this event loves families, they love dogs just as much if not more. Do visit the vendor tents if you have a pooch because you can often find great deals on gear.
FISH: If you are a novice see if anyone is having any clinics to show you the ropes with the gear. The location for the comps are not obvious and not general knowledge before the comps begin so you have to try a little harder to spectate.
KAYAK, RAFT, SUP***: You want a spot near the International Bridge where the announcers are working because these events turn into demolition derby at the turns if they are competing against each other or are great spots to watch flips if they are in the rodeo for the kayak. As a spectator kids can kayak at the Adventure Village in a pool and there is SUP yoga at the SUP pool but you need to get there early to participate.
RUN: This is possibly the most accessible event to compete in with the mud run having a kid division and there being a trail event to do with your dog. There are various courses so this is all over including in the main village during happy hour time. Basically if you see runners going, cheer for them!
YOGA: The games have stepped this up from free yoga in previous years to one internet celebrity last year that drew a HUGE crowd to multiple paying opportunities this year to practice with big names. Check the yoga schedule and see if anyone really resonates with you. To be honest I was not thrilled with the crowd the mega celeb drew last year and that is why I am not staying overnight this time. It was some epic douchebaggery that was not necessarily something to attribute to the yogini celeb but her following. There is no yoga competition (they have not gone there yet), and there is free kid/teen yoga from 3-4 on Thursday this year.
SLACK***: If you have never seen a high-end slackline competition this is a MUST SEE! It is an international event and these athletes are not just trying to balance on a line, they are doing acrobatics. Last year there were even some Cirque du Soleil performers competing. As a note if you want swag this is an event for the kids to sit around the landing pads and scream their little heads off. The sponsors are especially kind in using this event to recruit the next generation of athletes. Teens are ruling this competition so tots are even encouraged to use the practice lines nearby set up for spectators.
ULTIMATE MOUNTAIN CHALLENGE: This is the king/queen of the mountain event for the athlete of all trades.
PHOTOGRAPHY: You and your DSLR will get laughed at, trust… I know this from experience. It really is all about GoPro. There will be daily giveaways and the chant is GoPro three times. In the last two years they even held FREE GoPro clinics to work with their pros on how to use the camera, how to edit with the camera, then experiences in the field with the camera. This year the clinic will feature using the Karma drone. This is a high-end value that they make available to participants but you need to pre-register.
MUSIC***: Music this year is in The Amp. They get some crazy good acts that have clogged up the village so this year they are in the amphitheater. If you are bringing little ones please get them hearing protection. You can find Baby Banz at Real Baby and Right Start before your trip up.
ART: Nature is pretty rockin’ and these games highlight being active in stupid, gorgeous scenery. With a GoPro you can capture this really easy, thus their title sponsorship. Join Mountain Click to get better access to action, look at film school, join in film screenings. Besides the nature and action shots, people in nature are generally happy and beautiful to look at in their own right for that fact.
FAMILY: Like I mentioned, the games highly encourage family involvement. They try to make experiences available in the disciplines there are competitions for. Go to the Adventure Village, Alpine Garden, or even the pirate ship playground in between the climbing and dock dogs. Last year I took my five-year-old on the Kleen Kanteen sponsored clean up. We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain and wound our way down picking up trash and enjoying the hike.
EVERYONE: Have a blast! A lot of information comes out at the games for contests and updates via social media. Follow the games on your platforms and check in every so often. If you are looking to gear up know that the vendors/sponsors have great deals for attendees. There are plenty of restaurants and booths to fuel during the day. Make it easy with traveling with kids in a congested event. Babywear instead of using a stroller, use backpacks instead of wagons, be as mobile and comfortable as possible. It is at altitude so if you are not used to drinking, take it easy. Drink plenty of water. Wear your sun protection. You know… all the standard mountain rules apply. And once again… have fun!!!
As for me this year I am planning to go with the family on at least one day and by myself or just with my husband on at least one day. I have to take the kids. At this point this is one of their rites of passage to start the summer and they are both adept at using the GoPro on our adventures. This old GoPro 3 even belongs to this little guy at this point but I am thinking of upgrading him… Please ask questions if you have them. FB is probably easiest if I can help.