Vail, Colo., has long been one of the country's hottest vacation spots. There, skiers can enjoy a day on the slopes, taking the lifts and skiing into any one of the city's six villages. Historically, visitors have had little help in determining exactly which village they were in, but that changed last summer, when the city installed a new wayfinding system.

For years, Vail's wayfinding system consisted of vehicular and pedestrian signs and a few pedestrian maps. However, the signs did not clearly distinguish between the villages, and they did not identify all of the villages. Adding to the confusion, recent development in the area resulted in several new destinations that were not indicated on the existing signs.

In 1999, town leaders hired Traverse City, Mich.-based Corbin to design a new wayfinding system. The company created Fiberglas signs that incorporate different colors to help distinguish between the six villages: East Vail, Golden Peak, Vail Village, LionsHead Village, Cascade Village and West Vail.

The vehicular signs direct visitors to the two main parking garages in Vail, and visitors are encouraged to park first, then ride the town's free transit system between villages. The pedestrian signs describe distances to destinations within the villages and to bus stops by walking time rather than by U.S. customary measurements, such as miles and feet.

The wayfinding system was installed late last summer in time for the 2001 ski season. This spring, the town installed recreation trail signage. Vail Information Officer Suzanne Silverthorn says she has been extremely pleased with the results. “It's especially rewarding to observe the ease with which our guests are using the pedestrian maps,” she says.