Encompassing 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, Vail ski resort is touted as Colorado’s largest ski resort and the second largest in the nation.
Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the United States at 5,289 skiable acres, which see more than 360 inches of snow a year. Combine this terrain and snow consistency with legendary après-ski activities and easy access to Denver International Airport, and it’s clear why Vail Ski Resort has such a draw for advanced skiers and first-timers alike. Whether shredding it on one of the seven epic back bowls, or bar hopping after dark in the three base villages – Vail Village, Lionshead and Golden Peak – guests will find that Vail lives up to its promise as the ultimate Colorado ski resort.
The onsite ski and snowboard school has private classes, and group workshops for all skill levels, as well as an adaptive ski program. Equipment rentals are available, with some providers even offering delivery to you your hotel. There is no night skiing offered at Vail, but there are a number of other activities, including tubing, ice skating, ski biking and snowmobiling. The resort also encompasses several dining and lodging venues. Vail is an Epic Pass destination.
The season here begins before Thanksgiving and typically runs to mid-April. Snowmaking covers about 460 acres of the resort. Some say March is the best time to ski Vail, as the snow is still excellent, the hotel prices are slightly lower, and crowds are less dense. In general, the holidays are going to be the time when the resort is the busiest and rates are highest – though some also say that the New Year’s Eve fireworks are not to be missed.
For the 2022/2023 season the holiday window rate is $275 for 13+ age group and $190 for ages 5 to 12. The non-holiday window rate $245 for 13+ age group and $160 for ages 5 to 12. Purchasing online, and ahead of time, can save around 10% – 15% on lift tickets.
You can get the best lift ticket prices at Vail if you book them early online and get a multi-day ticket. When you get a multi-day ticket you do have to select the days when you want to use them. There will be up to 3 days of buffer, depending on how many days your multi-day ticket is, so that you can take a rest day and not have to ski without a break.
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There are 193 trails at Vail, only 18 percent of which are designed for beginners. Twenty-nine percent of Vail’s runs are categorized as intermediate, while a whopping 53 percent are classified as expert. Here are the best trails at Vail for each skill level, according to resort staff:
Chair 2 is often overlooked as just a method of transportation to other areas of the mountain, but it also has legendary terrain of its own. With kid’s adventure zones like Chaos Canyon and Porcupine Alley, this is a kid-approved area. Practice Parkway and Ledges also offer beautiful views for beginner skiers on a gentle grade.
One of the most popular areas of Vail Mountain, Northeast Bowl offers easy access to some of the best terrain, which can be ridden all day. The lift ride is quick, is the first to open, and is the last to close. If you like secluded vibes, yet easily accessible terrain, powder stashes and intermediate groomed trails, head to Northwoods.
If you like awesome views, working for your turns, hidden gems and advanced to expert terrain, you’ll love Siberia and Mongolia Bowl. This area is only recommended for advanced skiers, as the terrain is ungroomed, highly variable and can provide some of the best powder stashes on the mountain – especially on busy weekend days. Experts can also head to Outer Mongolia, the furthest east on the entire mountain, accessible only by Poma Lift 22. For what may seem like a lot of effort to get out there, the snow is often untracked and the outlook is incredible.
If you are looking to be pampered after a day of skiing, you’re at the right resort. The Lodge at Vail , in the heart of Vail Village, features a 7,725-square-foot RockResorts Spa, a pool and an exercise room, as well as two restaurants and a piano bar. The Golden Peak Penthouse , located in Golden Peak Village, is a five-bedroom residence with large decks that look out to the Gore Range. Designed by architect Kyle Webb, the penthouse is a ski-in/ski-out accommodation option with all rooms featuring a private outdoor hot tub looking out to the mountains.
In Cascade Village, Grand Hyatt Vail has 285 guestrooms, including 29 suites, with an award-winning spa, a ski concierge service, children’s activity program and onsite dining, shopping and boutiques.
Vail’s restaurant and bar scene is extensive with restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. For more than 40 years, Sweet Basil has been setting the bar in high-end Colorado cuisine, offering dishes like saffron linguine and octopus à la plancha in Vail Village. For new-style Japanese, Matsuhisa Vail dishes up salmon fillets with wasabi pepper and white fish tiradito alongside views of Vail Mountain from floor-to-ceiling windows. For breakfast, try The Little Diner for locally sourced ingredients in dishes like the taxi driver special (pork, green chillies and cheese over hash browns) or the Funky Monkey for crepes.
Vail has a vibrant array of entertainment options – rom a quiet nightcap by an outdoor fire pit to live music or dancing – for those coming off the slopes at the end of the day. Just steps from the Eagle Bahn gondola in Lionshead, Tavern on the Square offers peak views from the patio where you can warm up with a hot toddy, while the Frost Bar allows guests to sample a smoky dram from the sleek bar’s signature Scotch collection in the heart of Vail. For live entertainment and heated decks where cocktails and European fare is served, try Pepis, also in Vail Village.
Travelers have the option of flying into the Vail/Eagle County Regional Airport – a 40-minute drive or shuttle ride from Vail. Denver International Airport is a two-hour drive away and there are several shuttle companies offering regular service.
By car, Vail is about 100 miles from Denver, usually accessed by Interstate 70. From Colorado Springs, Vail is less than three hours by car, while those driving from Salt Lake City, Utah, can expect to reach the resort in around six and a half hours. While renting a car is an option – there are rental counters at the Vail/Eagle County Regional Airport – Vail is very pedestrian-friendly, with heated walkways connecting the base villages. The the town of Vail also operates an extensive (and free) transportation system that links the east and west sides – the ECO Transit town buses from Vail to Beaver Creek, Avon, Edwards and Eagle. Hotels here are close to the slopes, though some offer shuttle services that take guests directly to the lifts, no walking necessary.
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