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Vail

You’ll be hard pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Vail. Rivalling Aspen as the resort of choice for the uber rich and super famous, it’s the 2nd largest ski area in the USA, has a vibrant cosmopolitan town and offers an outstanding visitor experience - one of the best in the world.

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

At a glance: • World class resort • 2nd largest ski area in the US • Diverse non-skiing options

Great for: • Late season • Groups • Foodies

You’ll be hard pushed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Vail. Rivalling Aspen as the resort of choice for the uber rich and super famous, it’s the 2nd largest ski area in the USA, has a vibrant cosmopolitan town and offers an outstanding visitor experience - one of the best in the world.

Vail Resort

Once you visit Vail, it’s very easy to see why this one of the most famous ski resorts in the world. It may not have the rich, mining history of other resorts in Colorado like Breck and Aspen, but still manages to wow guests who stay and is quickly catching up with Aspen as the choice ski destination of the rich and famous.

Named after Charlie Vail who built the highway through the valley, it features three village centres at the base of the mountain. The first and main base is Vail village. This pedestrianized village has become the epitome of luxury, with architecture copied from classic Austrian design. The heated streets keep snow clear and make getting around quick and easy, showing the measures taken to provide visitors with the best possible experience. These efforts are also apparent in the new One Gondola, which features heated seats and Wi-Fi.

The village of Golden Peak allows for a more peaceful experience, keeping you out of the central hub of Vail village but within easy walking distance to its numerous bars, restaurants and amenities. This isn’t to say Golden Peak hasn’t got its share of inviting offerings; the Golden Peak Grill has a great lunchtime menu and is close to the halfpipe for a great lunchtime view, and the Lord Gore provides a sophisticated spot for fine dining, again with fantastic views. Wheelchair friendly and also including shops for your essentials, the village has in past years been at the base of runs used for international team race training, providing a great spectator experience.

Many people think that if you head to Lionshead village you can get a more affordable stay. Located a little further from Vail village than Golden Peak, its reasonably priced restaurants and shops attract a number of visitors, without detracting from its easy-on-the-eye architecture. Featuring a beautiful ice rink in its centre surrounded by a range of shops, the Born Free Express lift and Eagle Bahn Gondola are within a few minutes walking distance, which provide easy access to the resort’s huge ski area.

Stats & FAQ

Location: US, Rocky Mountains

Established: 1962

Open: November – April

Downhill: 5269 acres, 193 runs

View our detailed Vail snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Vail snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Eagle County Airport36 miles, 45 mins
Denver International Airport120 km, 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 35runs 18%

  • 56runs 29%

  • 102runs 53%

Top Altitude:3,527m
Bottom Altitude:2,476m
Resort Altitude:2,476m
Longest run:Riva Ridge, 6.4km
Slope Orientation:N/S/E
Vertical Drop:1,052m
Skiable Vertical:1,052m
Night Skiing:No
Glacier:No

Snow Report

  • Top
  • 3cm
  • Base
  • 46cm
  • Forecast
  • 46cm

Web Cam

Vail web cams
Downhill Runs:5269 acres, 193 runs
Beginner slopes:18%
Intermediate:29%
Advanced slopes:53%
Lift Pass Price: $432 (adult 7 day) Can ski Vail plus 9 other resorts, including Breck, Keystone & Beaver Creek
Nearby resorts: Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Aspen

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Vail

There’s almost too much to say in relation to skiing and boarding here. As the second biggest ski area in the USA, at 5,289 acres, there’s terrain to cater for literally every skill level, and lots of it. Three areas connected by lifts make up this massive expanse – the Frontside, Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. With 31 lifts uploading 59,000 people an hour, you should experience quick access with few lift queues outside of peak times.

For beginners, the ski school is world class - priding themselves on not just being an instructor, but also a guide, friend and “cultural ambassador”. If you fancy a bit of skiing outside ski school, look towards the slow zone area around Gopher Hill lift, or up at the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola (a real gem as learning areas aren’t usually found up the mountain).

Intermediates will find heaven here; stick to the Frontside and head over to Bwana or Born Free at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola for long, wide cruisers. For a challenge, head over to Riva Ridge, which is a blue with black diamond sections thrown in, one comically called “tourist trap”, or learn to ski powder in Blue Sky Basin or the Back Bowls.

Whilst not the steepest around, Vail’s terrain offers experts the chance to hone their skills and before heading to the more challenging slopes of other resorts. The place to be seen is Vail’s extensive Back Bowls. With over 3,000 acres to explore, you’re able to go almost anywhere, and escape the crowds on the unpisted slopes - the possibilities are seemingly endless. More can be said of this in the Blue Sky Basin, with its gladed runs allowing you to pick through the trees. Frontside is famous for its bumps; check out Highline for a double diamond with some beautiful moguls.

If you fancy working on your freestyle, Vail has 3 separate parks: the Pride and Bwana parks have features of varying degrees of difficulty and Golden Peaks houses a huge 22 foot Superpipe, and trickier jumps, boxes and rails.

Vail Apres Ski

Après can be one of the most important factors when deciding on a ski resort – Vail has a variety of options to keep you partying for the whole holiday. If it’s great weather, check out Garfinkel’s for a vast patio on which you can soak in the rays, along with their extensive drinks menu. Los Amigos also plays host to great views, and has in the past had some great happy hour deals to keep patrons returning for more. If you’re over in Lionshead, the well-established Bart and Yeti’s is perfectly situated for people watching as others get off the slopes.

If you’re absolutely famished and fancy a filling meal in a classy establishment, head over to Elway’s, close to the bottom of the slopes in Vail Village, and try the colossal 22oz steak. For a lighter eat, try Bully Ranch for lighter bites and a famous range of burgers. If you just want a night in but still need to do something about that appetite, try Local Joe’s Pizza. Perfect for sharing or if you want to challenge yourself, their 18 inch pizza is a force to be reckoned with.

If you’re looking for a later evening, Shakedown Bar offers live music in an intimate venue with a 190 person capacity and Samana Lounge is a perfect place to head if you feel like hitting the dance floor, usually with a number of good drinks deals. George’s is a hidden gem with great food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere if you fancy a quieter night.

Vail can offer an assortment of other activities to keep you and your party happy. The best place to head if you are looking at entertaining the family is Adventure Ridge, a fun filled park at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, featuring tubing, kids snowmobiling and bungee trampolining. The tubing hill now also has its very own enclosed magic carpet lift, transporting tubers to the top with ease. If you’re looking for a more adult suitable activity, allowing you to relax away from the energetic younger ones, head over to one of the spas, we especially like the Aria Athletic Club and Spa in the Cascade Hotel.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Vail

When is the best time to ski Vail?

Vail’s huge ski area will more than likely allow you to ski it at any period in the season and have enough space for you to still be exploring by the end of the week.

461 acres of artificial snow making equipment is usually only used early on in the season, ensuring there is a deep enough base layer to begin the season with. However, this resort really comes into its own later in the season. With a whopping average 9 metres of snowfall per year, and averaging over 300 sunny days per year, you’re likely to have a combination of fantastic snow and good weather if you fancy a spot of spring skiing. Its altitude also helps; from between 2,476m and 3,527m, this elevation is likely to stay cooler and bless you with better snow conditions than many of its lower equivalents. The Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin usually open later in the season, and with the Blue Sky Basin and Frontside north facing, the sun stays off the snow for longer providing generally better snow conditions, so head to these areas for the best skiing.

Peak Dates

Christmas in Vail is a magical experience for people of all ages. With lights around town and the festive vibe of the central ice rink, the feeling of being in a fairy tale as the excitement mounts is captivating. The outstanding dining, organised events for all the family and, of course, superb skiing make Vail the best place to celebrate this special day. Browse Vail Christmas ski holidays ‣

The classy banquets, jaw dropping fireworks and wild parties are what make people return year on year to see in the New Year’s in Vail. The resort’s popularity has caused a diversification in its entertainment, meaning there’s something for those with the youngest children, those looking for a wild night on the town and even anyone who fancies a quiet night in to make the most of the outstanding skiing on New Year’s Day. Browse Vail New Year ski holidays ‣

Typically around the time Vail experiences its highest average snow depth, and due to the fact that the American schooling system doesn’t have a half-term, this is a brilliant time to experience the wonders of this resort. With numerous kids’ activities, along with a fantastic and diverse ski school, spending half-term in Vail will be a pleasure whatever your age. Browse Vail Half Term ski holidays ‣

This resort’s altitude and typical snow conditions make Easter in Vail a dream. Whether you’re skiing the north facing slopes of the Frontside or Blue Sky Basin, hitting up the park, or just sunning yourself on one of the patios in the numerous après ski bard, you’d be unlucky not to find something suited to you in this world-renowned resort. Browse Vail Easter ski holidays ‣

Vail Ratings & Customer Feedback
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Average Rating 5 out of 5
The second largest ski area in the US deserves a mention for its beautifully approachable powder terrain. You won’t find the kind of jaw-dropping steeps as you might on Verbier’s Bec Des Rosses, but instead pristine pillow-cloud fields of champagne powder. For me best place to start is over at the ever-popula... + more
Rory,
5 out of 5
This Colorado ski town is big on ski terrain as well as luxury – in fact it packs in the second largest ski area in the U.S. My pick of the toughest pistes are the double black Prima for its sheer speeds or the secluded Blue Ox, where you can tackle high-level corduroy away from the crowds. Better than both of... + more
Harry,
5 out of 5
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Families in Vail

Being one of the most famous resorts in the world, Vail has to provide something for every visitor, making it a fantastic place for family getaways.

With 5,289 acres available to explore, and just under 50% of runs catering to beginners and intermediates, there will be something suitable for the whole clan on the mountain. For true beginners, the ski school’s 160 instructors are qualified to coach you the proper technique in a fun and informative way. Not only for beginners, the ski school is able to cater to most skill levels, with group or private lessons available. If you want to ski with your children outside of ski school, there’s a great selection of greens available from the Avanti Express lift, and safe zones coming into each of the base villages, ensuring the safest possible skiing experience. If your child has a little more experience, why not take them to the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, and head down the blue runs of Bwana or Simba for runs right back to Lionshead. Alternatively, many kids want to try their skills in the terrain park; if this is the case, head to the Bwana or Pride Park for beginner to intermediate features.

If you all fancy a day off from skiing, the Adventure Ridge is the child friendly adventure land that kids dream of. A new magic carpet services the epic tubing hill, or kids’ snowmobiles allow little ones to shred around the snow. For the older kids, there’s ski biking, an adrenaline pumping cross between skis and a bike for guests aged 10 and over. A little closer to home is the ice rink, a favourite of any ski holiday, allowing skaters to glide over the ice with the beautiful town as a backdrop. If you’re looking at heading to Vail during one of the Peak times, there are usually events and activities put on by the resort for the whole family’s entertainment that are definitely not to be missed.

If your hotel does not have a childcare option, Vail Resorts provides childcare in Golden Peak for children from 2 months to 6 years, allowing you to lose yourself in the ski area, relax in one of the spas or just explore the town without looking after the little darlings.

GroupsGroup Holidays Vail

What with Vail being the second largest ski area in the USA, and comprising a diverse and exciting town, it’s easy to see why groups would head here. The skiing and riding itself is enough to entice a group of any size. With runs suitable for all – from beginners who have never even seen snow before, to the hardened experts, you’ll be able to find something to suit your ability and that of the rest of the group.

For those just beginning their skiing experience, the ski school is top quality, and their knowledgeable staff should allow you to progress quickly. If you’re feeling confident enough to head off the nursery slopes, the Avanti Express offers a number of easy green runs for you to wind your way slowly down the mountain. Intermediates will revel in the options from the top of Northwoods Express lift and the Eagle Bahn Gondola, with a variety of blues and easy blacks. Check out Riva Ridge if you’re looking for a challenge – as the longest run on the mountain, it has an aptly named portion of black diamond called the Tourist Trap, so make sure you’re up to the test. Experts will find heaven in the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin, with the myriad of bowls, trees and steeps managing to test even the best skiers.

Whilst some mountains fail to offer a range of options away from the slopes to attract a variety of clientele, the off the mountain activities available at Vail mean that almost every group is catered for. For the young ones or the adults who want to relive their youth, head to the Adventure Ridge for action-filled, childish fun like tubing, snow mobiling and ski biking. If you want a more leisurely past time, get your group to check out one of the many wellness centres in resort; the Cascade Resort houses a huge spa.

All of these activities can greatly increase your appetite, and the luxurious sense you get from the resort is continued throughout their dining scene. If you’re looking for a fancy sit down meal, head to Sweet Basil, one of Vail’s favourite restaurants. A slightly less pricey option would be Bully Ranch, whose fame for their sublime burgers has spread far and wide. For those who want to head out and make a night of it, there’s a range of options that can make almost every night different. Try the Red Lion Pub for an après favourite. Garfinkels has a drinks menu almost as extensive as its huge sundeck, perfect for enjoying a well-earned libation whilst soaking in the rays. If you’re looking to carry the party on later into the evening, check out the Samana Lounge for some late night dancing.


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"Backcountry skiing in Vail"

Rory
5/ out of 5
The second largest ski area in the US deserves a mention for its beautifully approachable powder terrain. You won’t find the kind of jaw-dropping steeps as you might on Verbier’s Bec Des Rosses, but instead pristine pillow-cloud fields of champagne powder. For me best place to start is over at the ever-popular Back Bowls – after a big fall you’ll need to be quick on your feet to snag those first ribbon tracks, but it’s well worth the early wake up call. Avalanche protected and lacking any huge cliff drops or jutting rocks, these sections can be easily lapped all day thanks to their connecting pistes and accompanying lifts. To up the ante, make your way to Vail’s newest area, the Blue Sky Basin. Opened in 2000, this zone expands on the backcountry bowls within the resorts boundaries. Terrain here’s varied – you’ll find more cliff drops for those who like to blend freestyle in to their powder skiing, as well as trees for tight turns and the same rolling deeps.

"My guide to expert skiing in Vail"

Harry
5/ out of 5
This Colorado ski town is big on ski terrain as well as luxury – in fact it packs in the second largest ski area in the U.S. My pick of the toughest pistes are the double black Prima for its sheer speeds or the secluded Blue Ox, where you can tackle high-level corduroy away from the crowds. Better than both of these, though, are the backbowls. These beauties are accessed by pistes above and below, meaning zero hiking, and are devoid of rocks, crevasses, avalanche risk and all usual manner of backcountry concerns. The only thing left to do is lap them over and over again for the most hassle free powder day you’re likely to find anywhere. Nearly every single piste is forest-lined, so you’ll end up finding untouched routes under the canopy for days after a snowfall. I'd highly recommend the area skier’s right from the Eagles Nest for tree-ski aficionados. While Vail might not have the freestyle rep of Breckenridge, there’s no shortage of parks here – The Golden Peak is the largest, featuring both a 22ft high superpipe as well as a 13footer for skiers making their first pipe runs.
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Rory
Harry