Hear that? It’s the sweet sound of the skate park. Not just for skateboarders (bikers and scooters utilize it, too), skate parks are the alternate heart of a community. Riders of all ages congregate here to learn, hone their craft or simply hang out with friends and spectate. In the Vail Valley, there are now three skate parks: one in Gypsum, one in Edwards and now in Vail. Each park is unique, just like the community that it serves, accommodating a variety of abilities.
“When I moved to Vail, in October of 1999, there were only two skate parks in the Vail Valley, one in Vail, and one in Gypsum,” says C.J. Poulin, a skateboard instructor and longtime Vail resident who recently moved to Durango. “Since then, the valley has seen several skate parks come and go and some that have been changed or updated since their first installment.”
The first skate park in Vail was a temporary structure, an outdoor obstacle course complete with half-pipes, banks, spines, hips and rails, that the town and recreation district created in 1997 for a six-week trial. It continued as a seasonal structure for almost two decades as the need for a permanent structure was discussed and debated. There were indoor ramps in Avon and Eagle for many years, as well as another outdoor sectional ramp in EagleVail that stayed up year-round. The outdoor park in Gypsum opened in 2001 and the Freedom Park skate park in Edwards opened in 2005. Vail finally got its permanent skate park last summer.
The oldest park in the valley, located in Gypsum, is the smallest park in the valley. “The concrete bowl is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head,” Poulin says. “The best features of this park are the ‘top’ of Mickey’s head, where you can air into/out of the ‘ears’ and the long low ledge.” This park is great for “never-evers,” beginners, and intermediate skaters. The bonus for beginners is that it’s rarely overcrowded; it’s a great place to learn.
In all parks, helmets are required; knee pads and wrist guards are recommended. Skateboarding is an activity that you can enjoy as a youngster, as a mature adult and every age in between. Whether you’re just getting into skateboarding or are a seasoned pro, there is sure to be a park that will get you pumping through the bowls. Chuck on your Vans, grab your board and head to the park; it’s the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.
The newest skate park in the Vail Valley, the Vail skate park is located in the Lionshead parking structure, utilizing a space between the parking areas that was previously vacant. Built by California Skate Parks with input from local skaters, the park is named for Zeke M. Pierce, an avid local skateboarder who lost his life in 2013 due to a mountain bike accident when he was just 15 years old. It’s a beautiful space, full of graceful lines and generous curves, rails to slide and gaps to fly. Artist Valerie Theberge created four colorful mosaic murals that brighten the $1.7 million facility, which is managed by the Vail Recreation District. Lights allow skaters to enjoy the park until at least 11 p.m.
“The Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark in Vail has a unique personality among skateparks,” says Chad Young, community programming director at the Vail Recreation District. “It is long and narrow and we optimized this layout to build a no-push street course. Skaters enjoy skating linking the street features with flow and skating some tranny.”
It’s also an interesting space: 25 feet wide, but more than 230 feet long, it was a challenge for the designers that resulted in some unique features, like the “vert” feature. The park has a half-pipe, street course and mini-bowl feature, with a couple signature features such as the pole-jam rail and tranny to wall-ride, Young explains. “I love the design of this park and think that the use of this until recently over-looked space is absolutely brilliant,” Poulin says. “I think this is a great destination park. This is definitely one of the parks you want to visit if you’re on a skate trip through Colorado.”
Geared more towards intermediate to advanced skaters, the new Vail park is perfect for those with a bit more practice under their wheels; expert and pro skaters will also love this park. In the summer, there are clinics from 10 a.m. – noon for skaters ages seven to 14; private lessons are also available.
Located in Edwards, this park has a decidedly different feel than the Vail space. Near both the high school and CMC campus, this park is accessible by the bike path with grass surrounding it and consists of two big bowls and a “street” course. While Poulin says that there are some features that don’t really make sense, like a “strange ripple in the seven-foot pool coped section” and a raised planter where there could be features or seating or shade, he also says that it’s a good all-around park.
“Lessons are taught at this park frequently throughout the summer because this park has features that are good for ‘never-evers,’ beginners, intermediate and expert skaters,” Poulin explains. “Pros would love the newer of the two bowls, but it might get boring quickly as that bowl is limited compared to other concrete bowls in Colorado.”