At 8,250 feet above sea level, the spectacular Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, Colorado is the highest and one of the most visited botanical gardens in North America. Providing free access to over 100,000 visitors annually, the Gardens delight and educate with each changing season. The Gardens are open year round, offering visitors beautiful streams and waterfalls, emerging bulb blossoms during spring, a dazzling array of wildflower colors in the summer, golden aspens during the change of the season, and peaceful hibernation while snow covers the ground. The Gardens seek to cultivate the joy and an appreciation of gardening as well as provide a tranquil reprise from the hectic day-to-day. This outdoor science laboratory also makes unique and scientifically important plant collections accessible to the public. Vail’s premier public gardens also offer a number of community programs, such as:
- Guided Docent Tours
- Children’s Educational Workshops
- Yoga in the Park
- Chef in the Garden
While most visitors will have no problems with the elevation, the following precautions will ensure your comfort:
- Wide brimmed hat
- Water (available in the gift shop during business hours)
- Comfortable walking shoes
Directions & Parking
In summer the closest parking to the gardens is adjacent to the softball fields in Ford Park. If you plan to park in the Vail Village Parking structure, it is about a 10 minute walk to the gardens from the eastern end of the parking structure and by taking the Gore Creek Streamwalk you are guaranteed a lovely walk.The intown bus to Gold Peak is also available from anywhere in the village. From Gold Peak the gardens are a short walk through Manor Vail Lodge. From mid June to the end of September the in town bus will continue to the Nature Center, providing ADA access to the park over the Nature Center Bridge. In addition during special events, a frequent shuttle service is available from the top of the Vail Transportation Center directly to Ford Park.
During the ski season the Village Parking Structure is the closest parking to the Education Center. Park closest to the east end of the structure and walk east along the south frontage road to the west park entrance and down Betty Ford Way to the Education Center. About 10 mins. Alternatively the free intown bus can be taken to Gold Peak and then walk through Manor Vail Lodge to access the Park. Short term parking is available at the Ford Park bus stop.
Public Transportation Eagle County ECO Transit to Vail runs regularly year round. Please check schedules and bus stops Here
Driving Directions From east or west on I-70, take the main Vail exit (#176).After exiting I-70 you will navigate through two roundabouts. Follow the first roundabout until it takes you under I-70. Enter another roundabout, make a left, and continue driving east on to the South Frontage Road. Pass the Vail Parking Structure. Along the South Frontage Road you will come to a stop sign (note: traffic from the right does not stop). Shortly after the stop sign on your right you’ll see the softball fields and tennis courts at Ford Park. Park in the parking lot next to the softball fields or tennis courts and follow the asphalt path to the gardens.
Hours & Cost
Hours Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year (snowshoes available in winter.) The Education Center hours change seasonally, see the homepage for current times. Cost There is no admission fee, but donations are greatly appreciated. Donation boxes are located throughout the gardens and in the Education center.