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Vail Skiing & Snowboarding
Resort Guide

Vail is one of the top ski and snowboard destination in Colorado and the United States as a whole. Known for extreme luxury and the vast terrain of the Back Bowls, Vail certainly has a lot to offer. With three base areas and a vast network of chairlifts, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With some basic knowledge of the mountain, however, the 5,289 acre ski and snowboard area can feel like your home mountain. All of this amazing skiing and snowboarding can be found only a two hour drive from Denver.

Mountain Overview

Vail Ski and Snowboard Area

The key to having a great time skiing and snowboarding at Vail is to not spend too much time traversing the mountain trying to get from one side to another. The mountain is huge, so it’s easy to waste time on catwalks. Vail has three base areas. From skier’s left to skier’s right, they are Lionshead, Vail Village, and Golden Peak. All three are interconnected, and each have different strengths. The free in-town busses connect each base, too, so it's easy to get from one to another. The variety of the terrain makes for plenty of skiing and snowboarding for all ability levels, from beginner to expert. The legendary Back Bowls are made up of primarily advanced terrain, however there are some intermediate and beginner options. Given the large size of the ski and snowboard resort, there are lots of hidden powder stashes and less busy areas to explore.

The Lionshead Gondola is a great place to start out a day at Vail. From the top there are a handful of beginner and intermediate runs that lead to Chair 2. Chair 2 has more nice groomed runs, and also accesses Game Creek Bowl. Game Creek is fun place to head first on a powder day, it’s one of the most accessible back bowls, and therefore can get very crowded. A ride up the Game Creek Chair 7, skiers and snowboarders have the chance to experience the true heart of the Back Bowls. Sun Down Bowl has some great open pitches, and great skiing and snowboarding on a powder day, or in spring slush. Chair 5 brings skiers and snowboarders back to Buffalo’s Lodge, which is accessed by three different chairlifts. From here, there are many options, including heading to the groomed runs off of Mid-Vail’s Chair 3 and 4, heading to the fun mix of groomers and glades off of Chair 11, or heading deep into the Back Bowls.

Sun Up Bowl has more great skiing all around, from the open faces all the way to Yonder Trees, which holds fun powder stashes. The lifts of Blue Sky Basin can be accessed from here, although it is a long traverse on a mostly flat cat road, heading down to Chair 9 is a more fun way to get some awesome runs in on the way to Blue Sky Basin, which opens later anyways. Chair 21 and Chair 22 access some of the most remote skiing and snowboarding, and also some of the best powder riding at Vail. Red Square is one of the steepest runs here, and a lot of fun. Genghis Khan is a great run to get down to Chair 37, which leads to Blue Sky basin, where there are a ton of fun glades. Be wary, however, it takes a long time to get back to the base from Blue Sky Basin, so plan accordingly.

The Vail Village Gondola One, and Golden Peaks Chair 6, can also access all of Vail’s terrain. Golden Peak offers the quickest access to the Back Bowls, but also the coldest start. Vail Village, meanwhile, requires a bit of a walk through town to get to the gondola from the bus station or parking garage. It quickly accesses the great beginner and intermediate terrain off of Chairs 3 and 4, however.

Mountain Stats & Vail Trail Map

Vail Frontside Trail Map
Vail Back Bowls Trail Map
Vail Blue Sky Basin Trail Map
 Total Skiable Acres5,289 Beginner Terrain 18%
 Base Elevation 8,120' Intermeidate Terrain29%
 Summit Elevation  11,570 Advanced Terrain 28%
 Vertical Drop3,450' Expert Terrain25%
Total Lifts31Average Annual Snowfall348"

Travel Information & Directions

Vail is a two hour drive from Denver, in central Colorado, just west of Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. For skiers and snowboarders coming from farther away, there are direct flights from 12 major cities to the Eagle Airport (EGE), which is a 30 minute drive from the ski area. Colorado Mountain Express, CME, operates shuttles from both the Denver International Airport and Eagle.
Travel Resources:

Ground Transportation to Vail
Flying to Vail
Road Conditions

Lodging Information

The town of Vail surrounds each of the base areas and has a wide variety of lodging, eating and shopping opportunities. Known for luxury, Vail has some very decadent lodging options. There are more budget friendly options as well. Vail Resorts owns many of the properties in town, many of which offer lodging and lift ticket packages. The Evergreen Lodge, between Vail Village and Lionshead is one of the better budget options that’s still close to skiing.
Vail Lodging
Vail on Sale Lodging
Vail Lodging Packages
The Evergreen Lodge

Our Favorite Snowboards Vail
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Local Food Picks

Vail has tons of food options, on and off the mountain. Wildwood Lodge, located at the top of Chair 3 has some of the best food on the mountain. The barbeque sandwiches are a great way to stay fueled up for a long day of skiing or snowboarding. Belle’s Camp at the top of Blue Sky Basin has a handful of outdoor grills. Bring your own meat and have a picnic with spectacular views and a great ski back down. The town of Vail is definitely geared towards the mountain’s high-class clientele, with heated sidewalks and luxury stores, however, there are also some great restaurants and bars, too. The outdoor deck at Los Amigos goes great with their nachos and mountain views to wrap up an awesome day. La Bottega in Vail Village is a swanky Italian restaurant that's great for dinner, the sandwiches on the lunch menu are super tasty and affordable, too. Pazzo’s is a fun place to grab a slice, or order a whole pizza to share. There are tons of other restaurants in town, too.
Vail Dining:

On Mountain Dining
Los Amigos
La Bottega

Our Favorite Skis For Vail
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Where to Find Lift Tickets to Vail?

Vail has some of the most expensive lift tickets in the United States. Depending on the length of a ski and snowboard vacation, buying Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass may also help to save some money. Children and seniors receive discounted Vail lift tickets, too. There are also lift ticket packages at many area hotels and lodges.
Vail Lift Tickets
Epic Pass  

Vail Weather & Conditions Information

On average, Vail sees 348” of snowfall every season, as well as a huge network of snowmaking. This means that there are plenty of powder days to enjoy throughout the season. While the Back Bowls are the most fun on these powder days, ample Colorado sunshine and stout grooming means there always fun to be had.
Vail  Weather & Conditions Resources

Vail Ski Report
Vail Snow Forecast

Vail ski and snowboard resort certainly lives up to its reputation from the glamorous town to the massive Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. The mountain’s huge front side has plenty of terrain to keep beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders busy exploring for days, while powder hounds will love to seek out their private stashes in the Back Bowls. All of this great skiing and snowboarding comes at a pretty high price, however, so keep feeding that piggy bank until you can knock Vail off the bucket list!

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