Have you noticed the sign on Colossal Cave Road, just north of I-10 that proudly states Vail is an Arizona Trail Gateway Community? Have you ever wondered what that meant or why it mattered?

Turns out, it’s a pretty darn big deal.

To become a gateway community, a town must lie on or near the Arizona Trail. With Colossal Cave Mountain Park and the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead, Vail meets that requirement.

The Arizona Trail is one of the most unique trails in the world. People from all over the world travel to hike, bike and ride on it every day. More impressive are the hundreds of enthusiasts that make the 800-mile trek from border to border exclusively along the Arizona Trail, each year. Along the way, these people make a stop in Vail.

How the Arizona Trail Gateway Communities Are Used

The gateway communities are advertised, searched for, and used by the people who make treks along the trail for food, shelter, supplies, and wi-fi (because we are in the 21st century after all).

As a resident, that means you get to mingle with people from all over the globe right here in your backyard. You have the opportunity to hear their stories over a pint of beer at Montgomery’s, chat up fellow hikers while enjoying one of our town’s best amenities, or learn about their journeys while in the checkout line at Quik Mart. It’s a rare opportunity and one that only exists in a gateway community like ours.

Businesses benefit too.

Trekkers, hikers, and riders need to stop to fill up on supplies and take advantage of our local amenities. They need a place to stay, a spot to fill their bellies, and a store to stock up on supplies. As a gateway community, Vail has the resources Arizona Trail users are looking for, which offers an economic boost to our otherwise small part of the world.

Vail is only a small dot on the map among dozens of other gateway communities, but we play an important role in the development and use of the Arizona Trail. It’s something that we can take pride in. Just as much as we give back to the Arizona Trail, the people who use this famous pathway give back to our community.

To learn more about the other gateway communities, visit AZTrail.org.

About author View all posts

Lucretia Free