Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander
  • Biggest ski area in Colorado covering 5,289 ac
  • Pristinely groomed and long wide runs
  • Charming European-style pedestrian-friendly ski town
  • Plenty of off-slope activities to keep skiers and non-skiers entertained
  • Iconic Colorado ski destination
  • Crowds can be a real pain
  • Vail is an expensive place to ski
  • Lacks an abundance of steep terrain
  • Quite corporate so lacks the local charm of other resorts
  • I-70 can be closed during snowstorms, with Vail Pass being one of the main closures, meaning you can't get in or out of town

Vail Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Lion Square Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
13% off $2,200
Grand Hyatt Vail
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
10% off $1,805
Tivoli Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
24% off $1,920

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Vail is one of the biggest and the baddest. It’s the model destination ski resort, the resort so many others try to imitate. It’s the golden child from a family of the most iconic destinations in North American skiing. For years, it was the largest ski resort in the US. Even though recent combinations in Montana (Big Sky/Moonlight Basin) and Utah (Park City/Canyons) have since eclipsed Vail’s acreage, it remains one of the legendary names amongst international snow sports destinations and still the biggest resort in Colorado. With something for just about everyone, from a wide variety of terrain to an array of off-slope activities and more dining options than you can shake a fork at, Vail has set the standard.

16/17 Historical Snowfall

Best month to go

February and March



Vail’s season begins the Friday before Thanksgiving and runs till mid-April. During the early season (anything before mid-December), only a few parts of the mountain are open unless there’s been an unusual amount of early snow. The extensive snowmaking on the front side of Vail means you can count on most of it to be open. However, the Golden Peak area often hosts race training camps so some areas, especially the Golden Peak Race run, may be off-limits. Colorado winters can be fickle and the weather can change in a heartbeat, so consider skiing Vail in February and March. January is still in the coldest part of the high country winter, while February and March are generally the best months for snow. By the time April comes, longer days and warmer temperatures start taking their toll on the snow at Vail, making it slushy and sticky in the afternoon and icy in the morning after it’s had a chance to refreeze. Vail will start closing areas off, usually starting with the Back Bowls… and you want to make sure you get a chance to ski those!


Denver International Airport


Vail (2.5-3 hours)

Base of Vail (Walk)

  • Made up of three base villages (Vail Village, Lionshead, Golden Peak)
  • Most popular place to stay
  • Plenty of dining, shopping and nightlife options

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Cascade Village (Walk)

  • West of Lionshead
  • Quieter area, away from main villages
  • Served by its own lift

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East Vail (3-5 mi)

  • 25 minutes away from Vail resort by bus
  • Hotels and condos
  • Quiet area

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West Vail (3-5 mi)

  • 25 minutes away from Vail resort by bus
  • Hotels and condos
  • Fast food chains and two supermarkets

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For beginners

Vail is home to wide range of terrain to suit all abilities and that includes beginners. There are two main beginner ski areas at Vail; the base of Golden Peak and next to Eagle's Nest above Lionshead. For more experienced beginners there are also a whole bunch of green runs to explore around the mountain and beginners can even get a taste of their first bowl skiing experience at Vail on the Game Creek Bowl!

More beginners tips

For intermediates

Intermediates will have endless options at Colorado's largest ski resort though Vail tends to slightly overstate difficulty, so don't be afraid to try skiing the easier-looking blacks! Intermediate and above skiers and riders can take advantage of the free tours provided by Vail's Guest Services. For some gladed tree skiing check out Big Rock Park and Cloud 9 in the Blue Sky Basin! The Miniturn Mile is a backcountry skiing experience strong intermediates don't want to miss out on when at Vail. It's unmarked and unpatrolled so it's best to find a local guide.

More intermediates tips

For experts

Vail might not have as much steep terrain as other Colorado ski resorts but there's still plenty to keep advanced skiers entertained. Forever is our favorite run. It has just the right steepness for the perfect ride and you can enjoy some stunning scenery as you zush down the mountain! Vail's famous Back Bowls as well as Blue Sky Basin are also musts for any advanced/expert skier visiting Vail.

More experts tips

Find freshies

Fresh pow gets quickly tracked out in the easier-to-access bowls at Vail, so venture out east to Siberia Bowl (in particular the Rasputin's Revenge run) and Mongolia Bowls to ski the fresh stuff. You'll also find some good stuff between Vail's trees.

Ditch the crowds

Vail is a iconic Colorado ski destination drawing skiers from far and wide. To escape the crowds at Mid Vail, head west and ski the long runs above Lionshead such as Bwana, Born Free and Simba.  

Non skiers

Vail might have some of Colorado's finest skiing but non-skiers definitely won't get bored here either. Vail's endless activities, world-class dining, shopping and vibrant nightlife is sure to keep non-skiers entertained.


From designated adventure trails and play zones to a variety of accommodation, dining and activities for the whole gang, Vail is perfect for families. Just be prepared to dig a bit deeper into your pockets here, Vail is known for being quite expensive. If you have little ones, consider staying at Golden Peak on the east end of Vail. It's generally quieter than Vail Village and is home to the nursery, one of the ski schools and has a large learning area making it ideal for those skiing for the first time.


VailArapahoe Basin
beginner18 %10 %
intermediate29 %30 %
advanced28 %37 %
expert25 %23 %
total runs195 109
ski area5,289ac 960ac
summit elevation11,570ft 13,050ft
total lifts31 8
child lift ticket$117 Free
adult lift ticket$169 $100
back country
value for money
average total snowfall192″ 180″

Save up to 31% when you book a Vail package!

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Vail Reviews

Fabulous 4.5 / 5
based on 187 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders


How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?


How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders


How accessible and convenient it is to get to this resort from a major destination


Quality of the off-piste terrain


Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

Quality of lifts, lift speed and lift layout in the resort


Quantity and quality of the snow


How uncrowded is the resort


Après ski and dining options


Services and facilities e.g. child care, tubing, health care, equipment hire


How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Superb!4.7 / 5Mar 22, 2019
Vail ReviewsKihoon K.
advanced skier
This is best ski resort ever. Did not believe that this resort is better than others. Now I figured out that my friends recommended vail resort. I appreciate for everything.... More
Very Good!4 / 5Mar 22, 2019
Vail ReviewsJason L.
expert snowboarder
Probably one of the best mountains in the world as far as variability of terrain and the sheer quantity. It can get crowded on the weekends and holidays. it is difficult to learn the mountain because it is so large.... More
Fabulous!4.5 / 5Mar 22, 2019
Vail ReviewsJake S.
expert skier
Massive mountain with great options for beginner to expert level riders. Some of the best snow in Colorado. Very excessible from Denver and manageable for people of all budgets. Definitely a family friendly mountain. Best feature of all is the lovely town and the extremely fun apres ski scene!... More
Superb!4.8 / 5Mar 22, 2019
Vail ReviewsKonrad B.
expert snowboarder
I love Vail, it’s my favorite mountain. It has the terrain that I like and want. It’s a huge mountain, so it’s easy to get away from the crowds. The town is fun too.... More
Average!3.3 / 5Mar 22, 2019
Vail ReviewsEric S.
expert skier
It's a great mountain with good bowls but with a terrible amount of rich people trying to pretend they are in Aspen. The food os wY over priced. Pack a lunch.... More
Average!3.3 / 5Feb 18, 2019
Vail ReviewsJoe B.
advanced snowboarder
Very beautiful mountain that comes at a cost! Be prepared to spend nearly $30-$50 on parking alone. Slopes are thin, so be cautious if you are a beginner, but if you know what you're doing, Vail is an absolute blast.... More
Fabulous!4.3 / 5Jan 14, 2019
Vail ReviewsMatt M.
expert skier
DO not go to Vail on a weekend when there is fresh snow. You will spend half of oyur day waiting in lift lines... The mountain is fun but much better places around which just as good skiing and way smaller crowds.... More
Superb!4.7 / 5Dec 27, 2018
Vail ReviewsJon B.
intermediate skier
Vail is one of the best ski resorts in the world, along with having an amazing ski school. We typically fly into Denver and drive to Vail but sometimes we fly into Eagle. The Four Seasons is second to none. Great family resort with a keen attention to every detail to make it an experience of a lifetime.... More
Superb!4.8 / 5Nov 20, 2018
PMPeter M.
advanced skier
Regardless of how crowded it may seem at times, there's always plenty of space on the back side to get away from it all. Will continue to come back. Absolutely love this mountain!... More
Superb!4.7 / 5Nov 08, 2018
Vail ReviewsCarrie P.
beginner skier
Vail is such a cute town and the slopes were fun! I feel it is family friendly and for all ages. There is a cool bowling alley in the town too!... More

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