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
  • 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



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



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!


Denver International Airport



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.


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
back country
value for money
average total snowfall192″ 179″

Vail Reviews


4.5 / 5

based on 164 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

3.7 / 5

Nov 21, 2017
MMMarco M.
advanced snowboarder
I really love this resort it was a lot of fun. It was overcrowded but if you go far enough away then it was too bad. It was very hard to get to the resort unless you are from the valley. Parking lot prices are extremely expensive. It is a long walk to get to the main gondola but once you are in the mountain, it was paradise. I would consider going... More

3.9 / 5

Nov 20, 2017
CMChase M.
expert skier
Vail has a ton of wonderful terrain. I am super excited for this upcoming Winter to ski and enjoy the snow. Vails best event in my opinion is the Burton US Open. ... More

4.6 / 5

Nov 20, 2017
KSKimberly S.
intermediate skier
It was awesome. I would definitely recomend it to others. I'm actually going back there in December and a few more times this winter because I just had such a great experience. Staff was very friendly... More

4.7 / 5

Nov 20, 2017
BKBruce K.
advanced skier
best assortment of terrain and best bowls... More

4.3 / 5

Nov 19, 2017
CHChristopher H.
advanced skier
Busy during most of the season. The resort is pricey but a great time. Definitely worth a visit. Love the bowls and the variety of trails. Lots of restaurants and hotels around. It is a great ski town and easily walked.... More

4.3 / 5

Nov 19, 2017
CKCreig K.
expert skier
Have been skiing at vail since I was 5! I can't wait to get out there and crush some pow! Please please please let me win the new pass!! It just snowed!... More

4.8 / 5

Nov 19, 2017
advanced snowboarder
Vail, is the best, the town is so family oriented, lots of things to do. but I want to win the package for mammoth mountain because is closer to home.... More
Very Good!

4 / 5

Nov 17, 2017
KDKyle D.
intermediate snowboarder
Was way to big of a mountain to enjoy in a few days. Too many mountains and too many people. Probably my least favorite resort I have ever been to.... More

4.8 / 5

Nov 17, 2017
GCGrant C.
advanced skier
Best place to ski. Great for families. Great program for people and kids with disabilities. Like nothing on Earth is so true. Usually gets plenty of snow for waist deep powder in the back bowls... More

4.5 / 5

Nov 13, 2017
expert skier
Vail is really a one stop shop for a great family ski experience. I grew up skiing in VT and was blown away by my first trip to Vail back in the 5th grade. Since then I moved to Colorado after college and would often ski Vail with friends. Although it is a bit pricey and the traffic from Denver can be tough, overall the resort and skiing... More
Other ski resorts in


Arapahoe Basin
10% 30% 60%
Aspen Highlands
0% 23% 77%
Aspen Mountain
0% 48% 52%
Beaver Creek
19% 42% 39%
11% 31% 58%
35% 39% 26%
Copper Mountain
21% 25% 54%
Crested Butte
26% 57% 17%
Echo Mountain
10% 75% 15%
18% 43% 39%
14% 29% 57%
13% 41% 46%
Monarch Mountain
23% 28% 49%
20% 50% 30%
20% 45% 35%
5% 48% 47%
14% 42% 44%
23% 36% 41%
18% 29% 53%
Winter Park Resort
24% 37% 39%
Wolf Creek
20% 35% 45%