Vail Resort

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Average Annual Snowfall: 361" 
"Second in overall reliability in Colorado. Back bowls open by Christmas 75% of the time.  Spring conditions likely in back bowls by March, although also highest snow month."


Eagle County is the closest airport

Colorado Mountain Express provides airport shuttle service


On mountain lodging is pricing. Budget travelers should consider staying in Eagle.
Name Description Maximum Occupancy Price Range

Evergreen Lodge


Homey, unpretentious, often used for school groups. depends on room size $215 to $245

Tivoli Lodge


Luxury Vail Village Lodge depends on room size $300 to $345
Sonnenalp Resort A spa hotel depends on room size $221 to $476
Comfort inn Vail Valley Eagle County budget lodging depends on room size $84 to $149
AmericInn generic budget lodging depends on rooms size $129 to $179

Vail has over 15 on-mountain restaurants, which include the Two Elk Lodge, the Wildwood Smokehouse, and the Gore Range Grill. Blizzard's Deli serves breakfast burritos in the morning. The kids ski school uses the Mid Vail cafeteria, so it tends to get crowded around lunchtime.

Vail Resort subsidiary Mountain News Corp. buys

Vail Ski and Ride School



The Good: Slightly lower elevation makes it easier for sea level visitors to acclimate

The Better: The nearby Colorado Ski History Museum

The Best: Yes size does matter!


Vail Resort

The largest single ski area in the USA with over 4000 acres of skiable terrain, and the most high-speed detachable quads on one mountain in the world, Vail markets itself as 'America's favorite resort.' It is certainly regarded by many as one of the world's top five all-around ski resorts. Vail's ski area is legendary. Stretching for 7 miles (11km) and served by 25 lifts, eight of them express quads, it has over 120 named trails. Expert skiers and powder fanatics have plenty of challenging terrain on Vail's Frontside as well as the seven legendary 'Back Bowls.' For intermediates there's a huge variety of groomed cruising runs. There are numerous beginners slow skiing areas around the mountains and special family skiing areas. The longest run is from Flap Jack to Riva Ridge, a total of 4.5 miles (7.3km). The Frontside terrain is unusualy well balanced with almost a third of the skiing for each category of skier. The resort receives an average of 27 feet of light powder snow each year. The Vail Valley has some 32,000 guest beds in all categories, putting it among the biggest resorts in the world off-slope as well as on. With over 120 restaurants to choose from and more than 225 shops, visitors may be forgiven for not making time to try out the 884 metre long bobsleigh run, where recreational users can record speeds of up to 90 kph. Also to be found around Vail are several art galleries, museums and the opportunity to try ballooning, dog sledding, ice skating and hockey, parascending, snowmobiling, snowcat tours, snowshoeing and telemark skiing.

Snow making percent
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Magic carpet6
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Rope tow3
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Poma
Lifts-Surface Lifts-T bar
Lifts-Surface Lifts-J bar
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Single
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Double1
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Triple3
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Quad1
Lifts-Chair Lifts-High speed quad16
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Five person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Six person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Eight person
Lifts-Coggle train
Lifts-Total number of lifts31
Lifts-Total lift capacity
Trails-4-Expert only
Trails-5-Terrain park3
Trails-6-Half pipe2
Runs-Steepest run
Runs-Longest run4 miles
General-Base elevation8120'
General-Vertical drop3450'
General-OwnerVail Resorts
General-Mountain range
General-Annual skier visits
General-Back country access
General-Total area in bounds5289 acres
General-Snow making coverage
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC




Although the lift ticket is $92, I still give this place 5 star value because their slowest lift is a high speed quad I think (didn't see anything slow at all), and it just seems like you are skiing all day long.  I've skied quite a few places around the west and this is by far the best.  Best skiing, lodging, parking, best at crowd control...etc.  I say crowds, maybe? because the sheer number of people there is pretty astounding, but there is so much mountain it just doesn't matter.  For example, I showed up to Vail 45 mins after opening and it was packed.  I got on the lift and immediately tried to get as far away as possible.  Once I got to the far side of the mountain (Blue Sky Basin), my fiance and I laid first tracks 5 times before other people showed up.  I CANNOT IMAGINE A BETTER PLACE TO SKI.
SO, if you've been to Kirkwood, Brighton, Solitude, Heavenly, Park City, Bear Valley, Squaw, or Snowbird, this place beats the pants off of them.


Edit after skiing here quite a bit more:  If you don't know how to navigate this place, you can easily spend 3 hours on cat tracks during the day.  A fresh wax is pretty necessary.  The best deal on the mountain is at the top of mountain top express, off to the right, they serve a ham, egg, cheese bagel for under $5 with the pass.  That's $6 less than a cup of chili, and they pile it pretty high most of the time. 

I still really like this place, and the more I get to know it, the more I like it, but claims of this place being "flat" are kinda true.  I always feel like I'm traversing as I go down hill, not going down a fall line because of how everything runs out.  If you don't know where to go, the pow gets tracked out pretty quick.  Red Square is a great trail, and there are some others.


Pros: Sunny, Vail village is really cool, ski to your room. Bright and Sunny epic

Cons: I cant think of anything to write here

I spent a lot of ski days at Vail. Everyday was a great experience there. The woods were great, the snow was great, and Two Elk Lodge is amazing- located in the huge backcountry in the bowls. Ski patrols are pretty cool there and nightlife is great. If i didnt know anything about skiing i would check it out, its so famous and the price of skiing is amazing. 


Pros: tons of terrain, lots of options, dissipates crowds

Cons: lift lines can be long(ish), food is expensive

Spent 2 days skiing Vail last week– had a ton of fun. The place really has something for everyone– from my cousins, aunt and uncle who have been skiing 25+ years, to those just starting out like myself and my brother– Vail offers something for everyone, so long as you know where to find it. If you're a beginner to intermediate, it's worth it just to stick to the front side of the mountain... you'll have a lot of fun even without the back bowls. Another pro tip: if you're a snowboarder especially, try to navigate the mountain by going down runs as opposed to catwalks, as Vail has a lot of them. This is another reason beginner to intermediate snowboarders especially should stick to the front side of the mountain, as to access the blue terrain in China Bowl and Blue Sky requires a lengthy traverse along a catwalk.


All in all, some run recommendations from me and ones that my family (who spend 25+ days skiing out there every year) recommend for each level:


Beginners can't go wrong off lift 14. Lots of terrain variety, and Flapjack is the ultimate green run. Off lift 4 and 11, Swingsville is recommended as a step between greens and blues. 


Intermediates have a lot more of the mountain to explore– I recommend Christmas, Avanti (go around if you want to avoid the black section in the middle) and Bear Tree, as well as Whiskey Jack (off lift 14) and anything you want to ski near Swingsville (Christmas, Expresso, Cappucino, etc.). There's terrain to be had in China Bowl and Blue Sky, but skip it if you're a snowboarder– it's not worth the trek (which can take a looooong time if you get off the wrong lift).


Advanced skiiers tend to stick to the back bowls. Tons of fun terrain, and as my cousin said, it avoids Vail's "tourist-y" crowd. Some fun stuff on the front though too– 38, Head, Giant Steps, Pepi's Face, and Look Ma all stick out as ones my family rave about. 


Experts won't find quite as much terrain to satisfy their desires, but it's to be had– the back bowls, of course, but also Highline (a relentless mogul run), Prima/Prima Cornice, Frontside Chutes, The Narrows, The Pumphouse, etc. etc. In addition, there are several unmarked lines you can access– the most striking one that I remember being the Chair 5 line in the back bowls, which was an unrelenting and steep mogul run. 


All in all, a couple steps I recommend: 


1. Buy. Tickets. Online. Tickets at the gate are $159 for adults, but drop a decent amount when bought online and in advance.


2. If Gondola One is swamped, try heading over to Golden Peak– the Riva Bahn lift is a good alternative, and you can take Northwoods or Highline lifts to get to where you want to go. 


3. I said it before, but it's worth re-iterating: everyone, but especially snowboarders, should attempt to cross the mountain using runs as opposed to catwalks. If you try to take catwalks everywhere as a snowboarder, you're gonna have a bad time. 


Otherwise, have fun– there's really something for everyone!


Pros: Vast terrain, the "gentle giant". Something for everyone.

Cons: A bit pricey

I learned to ski at Vail 30 some years ago and have skied there 1,000+ times since.  The great thing about Vail is there is something for everyone.  The beginners can ski Swingsville while the advanced skiers bump down Zot and they can meet at the bottom of the same chair lift.  No matter your ability or the varied abilities in your group, this mountain can handle everything.


Pros: Size/Terrain Variety, Express Lifts

Cons: Size, Prices Like Nothing On Earth

Finally made it to the biggest of them all.  It's sheer size and variety of terrain is as impressive as advertised.  Everyone should be able to find a favorite lift and/or area here.  Visiting on 2/13/2013, we headed over to Blue Sky first thing in the morning via China Bowl, worked Game Creek Bowl before lunch, then after lunch finished up on the Avanti and Born Free lifts.  Other than a little crud and ice in China Bowl, and near the Lionshead village at the end of the day, the snow quality was good and it was a great day of skiing.  One area where Vail really does excel in is traffic management - there are so many express lifts and so much terrain to explore, that lift lines were almost never a problem, except for that first gondola ride of the day out of Lionshead.  This was mid-week however, so I have no idea what the weekends might be like.


The resort size is a blessing, but it's also a curse in some aspects.  It seemed like there were a lot of flat spots with required skating/double-polling if you're trying to work your way across the front of the mountain to the back bowls and Blue Sky.  Also, plan on paying $20 for parking if you want to be within walking distance of the lifts, even mid-week.  Resort staff did their jobs but were pretty impersonal and stiff, which I'm guessing is a byproduct of dealing with your average, wealthy Vail condo owner.  Finally, the non-skier in our group found the shopping at Vail Village to be grossly overrated, saying it was mainly ski-related shops, so keep that in mind if you have any non-skiers tagging along for the day.


Pros: tons of expert area-esp. the back bowls

Cons: lack of speed control on regular runs-safety

Just returned from Vail- never saw so many collisions and almost collisions.One friend was hit twice in 1 day and blown out of her skiis both times!  She was standing in a "safe area." Neither time did the skier, then rider, stop. Another friend was being photographed by the Sharpshooter on Poppyfields- the first frame showed her great form- the next frame showed her almost being hit by the skier coming up behind her, his arms thrown up in alarm. This woman skis fast and in a predictable corridor. The guy was bombing the run. I ski at an average speed in a predictable fashion and had numerous almosts from behind.

When reported, the Ski Patrol voiced frustration at these all too often occurances. Vail needs more official monitoring of speed/ skiing in control, and fewer people passing out Kleenex at Two Elk Restaurant!


Pros: Best bowl skiing in the US

Cons: Nothing super steep, expensive parking

I usually spend the whole day skiing the back bowls.  There is a wide expanse of advanced single black terrain serviced by many lifts, serving a number of bowls above treeline.  It is relatively uncrowded with barely any lift lines back there.  The best tree skiing powder we found was in the farthest north-facing bowl.  The huge lodge at the top of the main ridge is a great place to have lunch.

The front side has plenty of interesting terrain for intermediates and is like another resort on its own.  The town has great restaurants and character.  Lift tickets are not cheap, and the parking garage was $30 for the day.  Still worth it.


Pros: Huge, all types of terrain, great town, good snow

Cons: expensive, crowded

Vail is a great resort for anyone. For all those people who say there is no expert terrain, your wrong. I wouldn't call it a very difficult mountain, but being such a large resort, there has to be expert terrain. And there is, although the quantity of expert terrain is limited, there are several "extreme" runs and large cliff bands. The mountain has a great deal of beginner, intermediate and advance terrain. The glade skiing is great, but only if you go off trail. Almost all the blacks have moguls, and there are plenty of long groomed trails. It can be difficult to find powder, but if you know were to find it then its no problem. The terrain is overall top notch, as long as you know were to find the best terrain. Most of the restaurants at vail are excellent, but certain restaurants are disapointing. Overall, I think vail is one of the best resorts for all level skiers and snowboarders( Besides experts, there is plenty of expert terrain, but it's hard to find and requires a lot of traversing.)


Pros: vast amount of terrain

Cons: nothing too exciting.

Vail is a mega-resort with 5146 acres and a vertical of3360' from 8120' to 11480'.  There are 13 Express Quads, 9 fixed grip chairs, 9 surface lifts and 1 Gondola, for a total of 32 lifts. The area is divided into 3 distinct areas, the Front Side, the Back Bowls, and the new Blue Sky Basin. There are no super steeps here and the trees are extremely tight. There are lots of long groomed runs and moguls on the front, with wide open bowls on the backside. I ..spend most of my time in the Back Bowls.