The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is the world’s highest botanical garden, situated at the foot of Vail Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, in gorgeous Vail Valley. The Garden rests at an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,500 m) and is named in honor of former First Lady Betty, the wife of President Gerald Ford. The Fords had a home in Vail as the President was an avid skier, and both were very active in the Vail community. Ford Park consists of this alpine garden, a fairly large amphitheater complex, a children’s play area and a large grass field for soccer and such. As you’d expect, these attractions are very popular in the warm Rocky Mountain summers.
While it’s currently likely under a blanket of snow, the Alpine Gardens provide brilliant summertime displays of high elevation (alpine and subalpine) mountain flowers. They were founded in 1985, with subsequent expansion to include an Alpine Garden, Meditation Garden, Mountain Perennial Garden and a Rock Garden (which features a 120 ft waterfall). To understand the layout of the garden, please refer to a map of the garden found at this link. The Garden is free to all when it is open from the Memorial to Labor Day holidays.
The Ford Alpine Gardens offers numerous summertime educational programs, especially for children but also adults. There are tours of the garden, mountain hikes, morning bird walks, classes (including painting, drawing, photography, yoga, fly-fishing and gardening lessons) and exhibits. Cooking demonstrations from Vail’s excellent chefs are popular. The gift shop is a charming old one room schoolhouse, with some historic displays, and is worth visiting.
These photos were taken in early September, before the garden had been touched by frost. My wife and I had a very nice 2 hour visit in the garden.
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