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

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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
Superb!

4.8 / 5

Nov 13, 2017
GKGustav K.
advanced skier
Vail was incredible. We went there for the 2016 season. While we were there the mountain just got dumped on the entire time we were there. They must have received upwards of 14" of snow. We had an amazing time being powder hogs, although the visibility was sometimes not as good...no complaints as fresh snow made up for it! ... More
Fabulous!

4.3 / 5

Nov 12, 2017
JKJung K.
intermediate skier
A little hard to get to and resort itself is pricey, but it truly is a ski paradise that can't be beat. The resort itself offers top of the line amenities including tissues handed to you at the door for those with sniffling noses. The lifts are top notch, never too crowded. You will pay for it however.... More
Fabulous!

4.3 / 5

Nov 12, 2017
SPShannon P.
intermediate snowboarder
I went here the first time I've been out to CO. it was amazing compared to anything I've ever ridden on the east coast. ruined east coast riding for me tbh. the bowls were amazing! would love to be able to afford to go back soon. ... More
Superb!

4.7 / 5

Nov 12, 2017
MSMichael S.
expert snowboarder
Vail is such an unreal experience. The first real mountain I got to ride, and it still stacks up with Jackson Hole, Snowbird and all of the other amazing resorts. The back bowls are what keep me coming back for more. Love Vail’s terrain. There’s something for everyone!... More
Fabulous!

4.4 / 5

Nov 12, 2017
CACole A.
advanced snowboarder
Love it. Had family and friends affected in the Houston hurricane that affected my ski budget. Have had an epic pass the last 5 years. Would mean the world to me if I was fortunate enough to win won so I could ride this season too! ... More
Fabulous!

4.3 / 5

Nov 12, 2017
NBNicholas B.
beginner skier
I like skiing in vail because it is very large and perfect for a beginner skierlike myself. I can ski blues all day and save the legs for some face deep back in the chutes!... More
Good!

3.9 / 5

Nov 11, 2017
GWGrant W.
expert snowboarder
Vail is one of the best resorts in the world. Probably not the best for a single guy. More of a couple or group of friends destination. Also not the best bang for buck. ... More
Superb!

4.7 / 5

Nov 10, 2017
PPatrick
intermediate snowboarder
The great thing about Vail is that no matter how crowded it is, there are always wide open runs somewhere. On the weekends you just park for free on frontage and ride for daylight.... More
Very Good!

4.1 / 5

Nov 10, 2017
JJim
advanced skier
Easy access from Denver. I can't say enough great things about Vail. The staff works very hard to make sure you have a great vacation. Highly recommend you arrange a trip this year. ... More
Fabulous!

4.4 / 5

Nov 10, 2017
SKScott K.
advanced snowboarder
Vail offers some of the best skiing/riding in Colorado. The facilities are great and they foster an awesome family atmosphere. It has great restaurants and the the snow is pristine! I would highly recommend this resort!... More
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