Vail, Colorado

In 1967, the Ford Family started going annually to the newly incorporated town of Vail, Colorado, for ski trips.  By 1970, the family had purchased a condominium, making them part-time residents of the municipality – a status they held until President and Mrs. Ford’s deaths in 2006 and 2011.

In “An Ordinary Man,” Richard Norton Smith wrote: 

Wooden sidewalks hedged unpaved streets when, late in 1967, Gerald Ford paid his first visit to the faux-Bavarian village, with its half-timbered houses and white plaster clock tower; where snow bunnies and downhill racers routinely crossed paths with part-time residents Henry Fonda, Lowell Thomas and Leonard Bernstein.  …[Upon becoming President in 1974] Ford’s presence raised Vail’s profile as a year-round destination and future home of the Jerry Ford Invitational Golf Tournament, the Ford Cup skiing competition, and the Ford-hosted World Forum of global leaders sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.

In 1988, the Vail Alpine Gardens were renamed in honor of Betty Ford, and in 1989, Vail opened the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, with Willie Nelson as its first major performer!  We think it’s safe to say that the Fords and the Vail community had a mutual love and respect for each other.  Here are some fun photos of the Fords enjoying their time in Vail with outdoor activities and friends.

Former First Lady Betty Ford sits in the garden created in honor of her strong support of and contributions to the Vail Valley community in August 1989.  
Courtesy Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
First Lady Betty Ford and Members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team on the Ski Slopes in Vail, Colorado, on December 27, 1975.
A8706-09A / NAID: 12007120
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

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Author: Brooke Clement