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Vail - General Logistics Questions

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I just booked my first trip out to CO (Vail). I have a couple questions about getting around the town. We're arriving on 3/29 and leaving 4/1. My understanding is that Vail is a pedestrian town. 

 

1. Do you park in one of the ramps, change into your ski boots and walk around the town in your boots? I hate walking any distance in my ski boots and usually avoid it at all costs. In WI, the hills usually have a locker room where you can rent a locker to store your shoes and other belongings. It doesn't appear to be the case out in CO. Is your car your locker? I hate the idea of having to walk around town in my boots to grab lunch or whatever.

 

2. We are skiing on MON and TUES. My understanding is that the hills close early during the week (4pm). Is that correct? If so, you must really have to get an early start, huh?

 

3. Are there any other general things I need to know about staying and skiing in Vail?

 

I really appreciate your help!

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 23
There a lodge at golden peak where you can boot up. We stick our bag behind a sofa but there are lockers.
post #3 of 23

march 28 - lifts spin 9-5.  some may close earlier to get people out of the back 2:30/3:00/3:30.

 

Bring your wallet

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post
 

march 28 - lifts spin 9-5.  some may close earlier to get people out of the back 2:30/3:00/3:30.

 

Bring your wallet


Thanks. We found a pretty good deal on a condo and lift tickets. What are the mega expenses I should be ready for? 

post #5 of 23
Well - you killed 2 - food and lift tickets. Soup,a beer and order of fries somehow gets to $30+ on the hill. It's fine by me since I'm not there everyday - but some are appalled.
Edited by givethepigeye - 2/28/15 at 4:32pm
post #6 of 23

None really, there's a ton of stores so if you have low willpower for impulse buys you'll spend some money.  There are reasonable places to eat.  Pazzo's Pizza is really good.  There are of course expensive places to eat as well.

 

Food on the hill is costly.  Baked potato's are a good deal, lol.  We pack sandwiches in our pockets.

 

Vail is absolutely incredible, btw.  You'll have a blast.

post #7 of 23
Quote:
 My understanding is that the hills close early during the week (4pm). Is that correct?

4 isn't early. It's the norm, or even a bit on the late side,

post #8 of 23

With a ticket costing $145 a day, I would be in line when the lifts open and not quit until they close.  Combine that with expensive on-mountain food and $25 to park and you have an expensive day.

post #9 of 23
I personaly think Vail gets a bad wrap in terms of expense. Don't get me wrong-you can spend a ton of $ on expensive lodging and restaurants, but there are many less expensive options as you've found with your lodging and tickets.

On hill food is expensive just like every resort. We buy/make subs and take them with snacks and drinks in our packs and eat at one of the many tables all over the mountain. This not only cuts the expense but keeps us out of the lunch lines to spend more time on the slopes.

Parking is expensive but there are shuttles and free buses and lockers almost everywhere. We usually go up the gondola at LionsHead, get a locker at the top and boot-up. We ski Game Creek bowl and the front side early and then get into the backside late morning to avoid the lift lines that can crop up mid-day.

Have fun-Vail's a super place to have a great time.
post #10 of 23

Just to be clear - I like Vail - have had a Colorado pass for years and get my 10 days in.  It IS expensive.  Some of the costs the OP has mitigated (lift tickets and condo - which I assume means won't be dining out).  But if you stay at a hotel, apres and eat out at more than a pizza place (we prefer Vendetta's - btw)- I have found its as, if not more, expensive than say, Aspen.

 

There are plenty of threads with tip - search function is your friend. You will have fun - it does get a bad rap for many things - but haters gonna hate.

 

8->2 will get you to Gamecreek on snow if the Gondola is jacked in Lionshead.

post #11 of 23


Grambow, where is your condo? If it's close to the lifts it's likely just easier to boot up in the condo and walk over. You'll see most people walking to the lifts in their boots. But if you don't like walking in your boots, like others said, there are lockers close to the base lifts. Regarding lunch, personally I find it's too much time to go back down to the base. I usually just eat in 2 elks or mid vail lodges.

 

I would buy your lift tickets in advance if possible so you don't have to wait in line in the mornings. You can buy them online. Epic season passes get mailed to you, but they may be able to mail you epic multi-day passes, too.

 

Also, Vail starts loading the base lifts at 8:30am.

 

Do you have a plan for where you're going to ski on the mountain? If it's your first time at Vail, the sheer size of the place can be overwhelming. You should probably have a plan. What level skiers are your group? What kind of terrain would you like to ski?

post #12 of 23

According to this page on the Vail website :

 

http://www.vail.com/mountain/explore-mountain/mountain-information.aspx#/LockersandStoragetab

 

There are lockers and ski storage available at the Vail Sports locations. I'm not sure about other lodges or lockers.

 

I was just there in February for the first time, and since we were renting, we just stored things at the rental shop in Lionshead and walked to the lifts ready to go.

 

Blue Sky Basin closes a half hour earlier than the back bowls which close a half hour earlier than the frontside, so they can move folks back to the villages. 

 

Since we were staying a little away from the villages, we drove in each day and paid for parking, though if it's not busy there is street parking just behind the Lionshead garage on Frontage Road (as we discovered too late). 

 

We ate lunch on the mountain each day. Depending on where you are, it could take you a half hour to an hour to get back to the right village. 

 

For more info on my trip, I did file a relatively complete trip report you might want to read : http://www.epicski.com/t/132581/vail-2-4-2-8-first-time-out-west

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kauffee View Post
 


Grambow, where is your condo? If it's close to the lifts it's likely just easier to boot up in the condo and walk over. You'll see most people walking to the lifts in their boots. But if you don't like walking in your boots, like others said, there are lockers close to the base lifts. Regarding lunch, personally I find it's too much time to go back down to the base. I usually just eat in 2 elks or mid vail lodges.

 

I would buy your lift tickets in advance if possible so you don't have to wait in line in the mornings. You can buy them online. Epic season passes get mailed to you, but they may be able to mail you epic multi-day passes, too.

 

Also, Vail starts loading the base lifts at 8:30am.

 

Do you have a plan for where you're going to ski on the mountain? If it's your first time at Vail, the sheer size of the place can be overwhelming. You should probably have a plan. What level skiers are your group? What kind of terrain would you like to ski?


Thanks for the great advice! We are from WI, so I get that my skiing ability here is not going to translate out there. I am perfectly comfortable asking the groomed blacks in WI. I've only skied non-groomed a couple times. My travel partner is a bit more tentative. He makes it down he groomed blacks here just fine, but is quite nervous about it. Any advise you can offer about where to start/plan on the mountain would be great!

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Your trip diary was a great read! Thanks for taking the time to share.

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by grambow View Post
 


Thanks for the great advice! We are from WI, so I get that my skiing ability here is not going to translate out there. I am perfectly comfortable asking the groomed blacks in WI. I've only skied non-groomed a couple times. My travel partner is a bit more tentative. He makes it down he groomed blacks here just fine, but is quite nervous about it. Any advise you can offer about where to start/plan on the mountain would be great!


Vail has more than enough for all levels, so no worries there. Sounds like you'll want to warm up a bit and get a sense of what western runs are like before you dive in.

 

Here's my advice for you, in a nutshell.

 

Get to the top where Buffalo's is (Chairs 4, 11, and 5 meet). If you're taking Gondola One, that means G One to Chair 4. If you're taking Riva Bahn, then Riva to Chair 11. (If you're starting from Lionshead, ignore this advice.) From that point, take Timberline Catwalk to Sourdough Express. Underneath Sourdough you can make a few warm up runs on groomed or ungroomed greens.

 

If you're feeling pretty good, from the top of Sourdough you can drop into China Bowl via the cat track that runs past 2 Elks Lodge. China Bowl will give you the option to try ungroomed that's not too steep. If that doesn't work out, you can just traverse back to the groomer that runs down the middle of the bowl. That will take you to Orient Express lift where you can lap China Bowl. If you take the cat track off the lift towards Siberia Bowl you can do the Shangri-La tree run that's pretty low angle and widely spaced. Very fun. 

 

If, after skiing the greens under Sourdough, you don't think you're ready for China Bowl, then just ski past Sourdough back to Northwoods Express (Chair 11) and do some of the Blue groomers there and towards Mid-Vail. Word of caution is that if it's a busy day, the line for Chair 4 at Mid-Vail can get long. 

 

Couple random thoughts for you...

-If you find the bumps and ungroomed stuff in China Bowl too tough, don't waste time going to Blue Sky Basin. The groomers there are basically just cat tracks that drop off and pick up from off trail stuff. That said, if you're doing well off trail, then BSB is awesome.

-Some people love Game Greek Bowl. I don't care for it. I've gotten trapped in long lift lines at Game Greek Express and I don't think the runs are worth it.

-At the end of the day, if you're skiing down to Golden Peak or Vail Village, use Riva Ridge from the top of Northwoods Express. It's black but most of it is groomed and it's a good solid run. Much better than taking the cat tracks home.

 

If you only have 2 days at Vail, you won't even scratch the surface and you won't really know your way around. Make use of the mountain guides and fellow skiers to get where you want to go.

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by kauffee View Post
 

-If you find the bumps and ungroomed stuff in China Bowl too tough, don't waste time going to Blue Sky Basin. The groomers there are basically just cat tracks that drop off and pick up from off trail stuff. 

 

That's not what I found for Blue Sky Basin earlier this year. Grand Review, Big Rock Park, and Cloud 9 were groomed and very cool and lots of fun (intermediate skier here). Nothing at all like cat tracks. And I think In The Wuides was groomed a couple of days earlier though we didn't hit it. 

 

I suggest checking the grooming report in the mornings to see what's been groomed overnight. And depending on how busy it is and conditions when you're there, stuff groomed in the last couple of days can be pretty tame too.

post #17 of 23

Good stuff Kaufee.  

 

I like starting with the Golden Peak lodge and the chair from there.  That allows a warmup or two on Northwoods and Northstar, then the cat track to Sourdough, but you're right that Sourdough is easier.  

 

Instead of the runs to Mid Vail some of the frontside runs that end at the Avanti lift are great cruisers too.  Lodgepole, Columbine are excellent blues to get a feel for Western skiing.

 

Finally don't forget to go to Blue Sky Basin.  It's heaven on earth.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbostedo View Post
 

That's not what I found for Blue Sky Basin earlier this year. Grand Review, Big Rock Park, and Cloud 9 were groomed and very cool and lots of fun (intermediate skier here). Nothing at all like cat tracks. And I think In The Wuides was groomed a couple of days earlier though we didn't hit it. 

 

I suggest checking the grooming report in the mornings to see what's been groomed overnight. And depending on how busy it is and conditions when you're there, stuff groomed in the last couple of days can be pretty tame too.

 

Totally agree with dbostedo here.  Big Rock Park, Grand Review and Cloud 9 are an intermediates dream.

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

Totally agree with dbostedo here.  Big Rock Park, Grand Review and Cloud 9 are an intermediates dream.

Ok I guess I'm wrong on BSB after all. I stand corrected.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

Totally agree with dbostedo here.  Big Rock Park, Grand Review and Cloud 9 are an intermediates dream.

My experience as well
post #21 of 23

So a little off subject, but I've been going to Vail every March for the last 8 years and absolutely love it. I've been staying in Lionshead which is only important because I spend pretty much my entire day on the steeps in the Back Bowls but you have to plan because it is quite a haul to get back if you're way out in Outer Mongolia. My question is, does anyone have a suggestion how to find which mountains have the most fresh powder on any given day? I'm going to be out there next week and would be willing to drive a bit to hunt for the powder.

post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lub10is View Post
 

So a little off subject, but I've been going to Vail every March for the last 8 years and absolutely love it. I've been staying in Lionshead which is only important because I spend pretty much my entire day on the steeps in the Back Bowls but you have to plan because it is quite a haul to get back if you're way out in Outer Mongolia. My question is, does anyone have a suggestion how to find which mountains have the most fresh powder on any given day? I'm going to be out there next week and would be willing to drive a bit to hunt for the powder.

 

I'd suggest checking out this thread : http://www.epicski.com/t/128588/2014-15-colorado-weather-discussion  which is an on-going discussion of weather and conditions.

 

I'd also do a little searching on the site - there are probably tip threads for looking for pow days; But mainly it's going to be just looking at the snow totals at various places. The OnTheSnow app will show snow reports and can alert you as well.

post #23 of 23

Thanks for the help!

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