VAIL, Colo – While Vail is known for its incredible skiing and world class outdoor recreation, it also happens to be home to the highest elevation botanical garden in North America. Situated at 8,200 feet, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens specializes in mountain and alpine plants native to Colorado and other alpine areas around the world.
“We also hold plants in this garden that are in no other places in the world, and that makes them very important plants. Particularly, if we find a plant that is going extinct in the wild, we have the opportunity here to propagate those plants from seed and do reintroduction programs,” says Nicola Ripley, the Executive Director of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.
The five-acre garden includes a children’s garden, a museum that is in the original schoolhouse for the Vail valley, and an education center that features a new exhibit each year.
“It’s a really nice place to just take a wonder through, sit on a bench, enjoy the environment,” says Ripley.
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Alpine environment is defined as an area beyond the limit of tree growth, and Colorado has a significant number of alpine areas. Unfortunately, alpine environments are facing a lot of challenges due to climate change and an increase in recreational activities in high alpine areas. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens hopes to deepen people’s appreciate and understanding of fragile mountain environments.
“I think this helps people to love and understand, but it also gives people who are not able to go up on 14,000-foot peak a really in depth understanding and a view of these plants close up,” says Ripley. “So, either they just enjoy them here, or when they go outside, they’ve seen these plants, they know the plants, and I think they appreciate them even more.”