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

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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 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

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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

4.4 / 5

Nov 07, 2017
DDDerek D.
advanced skier
I have been enjoying Vail, my favorite resort in North America, for about 30 years. I first skied here while in college in 1986 and continue to make new memories with my family and friends! Vail rocks!... More
Very Good!

4 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
TSTom S.
expert snowboarder
Glad to see that some of the older chairs have been replaced with high-speed lines. Great tree riding throughout the mountain is the best part of the resort, allowing to avoid crowds at busy times. Ride midweek, or take trips off-holiday periods for best value... More

4.5 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
VVVldimir V.
expert skier
It is resolutely beautiful place like anywhere in the world. I am skiing Vail more then 24 years and will continue until I can not move anymore. Thank you Vail! ... More

4.2 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
WKWarren K.
advanced skier
I've skied Vail a number of times. Being from East Coast, I find Vail to be a treat. Always great snow and conditions. Wishing it was less crowded or maybe a few more lifts.... More

4.3 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
RBRebecca B.
expert skier
Vail is my favorite resort because I love the skiing and the apres ski as well. Every trip we take there has always been a great time. We have enjoyed every minute ... More
Very Good!

4.2 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
DZDel Z.
advanced skier
Vail mountain is the greatest skiing experience available. Vail snow grooming is fantastic. People are friendly and helpful. The only downfall is the food service on the hill could be greatly improved.... More

5 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
SRScott R.
expert skier
Just the greatest place on earth!! The amount of great terrain and great venues is unsurpassed. You’re going to love it. The best part about the resort is the amazing staff and clientele. Great people. ... More

3.1 / 5

Nov 06, 2017
expert skier
Vail needs more coffee shops. Unfortunately as well the parking charges are extremely expensive. I would highly recommend vail to someone who definitely has some money saved up. The George is the best bar at night ... More

5 / 5

Nov 05, 2017
RYRob Y.
advanced skier
Most amazing place that I have had the opportunity to ski! Wide open bowls no need for speed check just flylow all day! A day at vail is a happy day for me! I love that place. ... More
Very Good!

3.9 / 5

Nov 05, 2017
BDBrysen D.
intermediate snowboarder
Vail is a great resort to go to on a week day. Weekends are a nightmare. Lift tickets are way too expensive for the level of crowding that Vail has. Other mountains, closer to the front range, have better slopes and way less people. The luxury at Vail is amazing but not what I am looking for.... More
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