Vail

Closed
Vail
Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Crowds can be a real pain
  • Prepare to dig deep into your pockets, it's 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

Overall

4.8

It’s 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. It’s the one for everyone. It is, as they say, like “nothing on Earth”: It’s Vail! 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.

17/18 Historical Snowfall

Best month to go

February and March

Avoid

April

Vail’s season begins the Friday before Thanksgiving and runs till mid-April. This season, Opening Day is slated for November 17th. 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 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.While Colorado winters can be fickle and the weather can change in a heartbeat, consider visiting 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, making it slushy and sticky in the afternoon and icy in the morning after it’s had a chance to refreeze. The resort will start closing areas off, usually starting with the Back Bowls… and you want to make sure you get a chance to ski those!
Airplane

FLY TO

Denver International Airport

Car

DRIVE / SHUTTLE TO

Vail (2.5-3 hours)

Base of Vail (Walk)

  • Made up of three base villages
  • Most popular place to stay
  • Plenty of dining, shopping and nightlife options

Find accommodations around here

Cascade Village (Walk)

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

Find accommodations around here

East Vail (3-5 mi)

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

Find accommodations around here

West Vail (3-5 mi)

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

Find accommodations around here

For beginners

There are two main beginner areas (at the base of Golden Peak and next to Eagle's Nest above Lionshead), and a bunch of beginner runs around but for a taste of beginner bowl skiing head to Game Creek Bowl!

More beginners tips

For intermediates

Intermediates will have endless options at Vail though the resort tends to slightly overstate difficulty, so don't be afaid to try out easier-looking blacks! For some gladed tree skiing check out Big Rock Park and Cloud 9 in the Blue Sky Basin!

More intermediates tips

For experts

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! The Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin is also a must.

More experts tips

Find freshies

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

Ditch the crowds

To escape the crowds at Mid Vail, head west to the long runs above Lionshead such as Bwana, Born Free and Simba.  

Non skiers

Non-skiers definitely won't get bored here. Vail's endless activities, world-class dining, shopping and vibrant nightlife is sure to keep non-skiers entertained.

Families

From desginated 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 vs
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
uncrowded
snow
back country
value for money
average total snowfall192″ 179″

Vail Reviews

Fabulous

4.5 / 5

based on 164 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders

Beginners

How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?

Intermediates

How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders

Advanced

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

Accessibility

Quality of the off-piste terrain

Side/Backcountry

Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

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

Lifts

Quantity and quality of the snow

Snow

How uncrowded is the resort

Uncrowded

Après ski and dining options

Town

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

Facilities

How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Have your say on Vail
Superb!

5 / 5

Jan 19, 2012
TTzvi
I have been to Vail, and I haven't even skiied or snowboarded all the terrain they have to offer. Until I finish skiing the rest of the mountain, I am not going to change mountains!
Superb!

5 / 5

Dec 09, 2011
CColleen
I am very impressed with their kids skiing program. Vail has ski areas just for kids such as tunnels, forts, mini moguls etc.
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 12, 2011
DDave
The massiveness of vail provides extensive variety in terrain. In my eyes it is the creme de la creme.
Very Good!

4 / 5

Aug 28, 2011
TTom
Everything at the mountain appears to have been engineered to be 'smart'. Lifts work together to move lots of people in many different combinations of directions; trails blend easily; incredible varieties of skiing--cruising, trees, steeps, bowls, bumps. Crowds of people, yet always somewhere to escape to. On-mountain food choices offer more... More
Superb!

5 / 5

Aug 23, 2011
CCarol
It is also beautiful, but i don't like it being on the main highway.
Very Good!

4 / 5

Aug 15, 2011
DDoug
The back bowls including Blue Sky Basin rock. Not crowded, lots of snow for fresh tracks.
Superb!

5 / 5

Jul 24, 2011
GGreg
I have gone to Vail every year (sometimes twice/year) for the past 8 yrs. I have never been bored by the mountain...always finding some new areas, new challenges
Superb!

5 / 5

Jul 23, 2011
LLori
We loved everyting about vail. In addition to great skiing, dining, shopping and nightlife was fantastic. The shuttle service was so convenient, it picked us up with our skis at our resport and took us right to the bottom of the gondola, we could take it to the village for great dining and shopping. We rented a car while we were there and did not... More
Very Good!

4 / 5

Jun 21, 2011
WWillie
The nightlife is great here at Vail but I notice this is a destination resort. They need to work on I-70 to bring in more weekend worriers.
Superb!

5 / 5

Apr 24, 2011
BBill
I like the variety of lodging, the variety of dining, and the array of services available (although it is a very expensive place; I don't like that part very much). Oh, yeah...the skiing's not bad either.
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