Vail is the largest resort in the USA. The terrain is mostly intermediate (despite what the stats say), varying from heavily groomed trails on the front side to the expansive bowls over the back of the range.
Vail is also known as a hot spot for the rich and famous and while Beaver Creek and Aspen probably outshine Vail these days, the facilities and clientele (and prices) reflect it's glamourous roots.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Vail is located about 3 hours west of Denver along I-70, one of the major trans-continental highways, in the heart of the Rockies.
The 'front' of the resort facing the highway has many treelined runs typical of any resort, but over the back of the ridge are the infamous Vail bowls.
- Vail is well known for the huge back bowls that provide a large area of intermediate terrain - it has one of the largest expanse of terrain in North America.
- Vail is affiliated with Breckenridge and Keystone, so depending on which lift ticket you get, you may be able to use the tickets at the other resorts for a limited number of days.
- There is a certain sameness to the runs, particularly on the front side. Vail is a big resort with not a lot of variety.
- There is not really any discount facilities or services at Vail.
- While there are free shuttles running between the resorts closer to Frisco (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper) there was no free shuttle to Vail.
Phone: (303) 404-1800
Fax: PLEASE EDIT
Postal: PLEASE EDIT
Vail is located on I-70, one of the main east west interstate highways. You can see the Interstate from the front side of the resort (not a pristine alpine experience), and you can see the front side of the resort from the interstate (which is quite a pristine driving experience). It is just over 2 hours by road from Denver International Airport in good conditions. I-70 occasionally closes between Frisco and Vail during particularly large snowstorms.
There are many shuttles that can take you from Denver International to the resort.
There is also has a small airport at Eagle, sometimes called Vail airport or Eagle-Vail airport, with daily direct flights from major cities such as LA, New York, Houston and Dallas. The airport also has several daily connecting flights from Denver. However, given the airport is at least half an hour drive from Vail, it is only worth arriving on a direct flight, which are generally much more expensive than flights to Denver. You should also consider the risk of the airport being closed in medium to large snowstorms and your flight being diverted to Denver anyway.
Vail Resorts manages Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Heavenly, and depending on what lift tickets you buy you may be able to use the ticket at other resorts. With free shuttles it is definitely worth inquiring when making the purchase.
Instructors are full of their own self-importance as Vail instructors.
There are many places in Vail where you can rent all sorts of ski equipment of all standards.
Here are just a few of the many ski rental stores found in Vail.
- Aalta Sports
- Breeze Ski Rentals (Lionshead Vail)
- Black Tie Ski Rentals
- Christy Sports
- Gravity Jones Ski Werks
- Pepi Sports
- Ski Base Inc
- Troy's Ski Shop
- Vail Mountain Adventure Center
- Vail Sports
- Burton - Arrabelle (snowboards)
- One Track Mind (snowboards)
If you do not have a car it is probably easier to hire your gear closer to the lifts as most offer over night storage, saving you the hassle of lugging your skis back to your accommodation every day.
You can also book your Vail ski or snowboard rental online, which may save you money and less time in the rental store. Here are the main ski rental that offer online booking service;
* Black Tie - Which also offer full delivery service to your accommodation * Breeze Rentals * Christy Sports * Rentskis
To view a comparison of the above online rentals stores rates, locations and equipment Vail Ski Rentals
Generally great. But you pay for it.
Vail Resort is a little spread out, with centres at Vail Village and Lionshead. There is a free bus service that links all accomodation to the lifts and shoping.
Vail is the first resort I have seen with multilevel undercover parking for day visitors for $25 per day. Says it all really.
Shopping Snow Tubing Ski Biking Snowshoe Tours Fly Fishing Dog sledding Snowmobiling Sleigh ridges Horseback rides Balloon rides Kids Snowmobiling Trampoline (?!)
Bars & Entertainment
Not allowed. (j/k)
Degree of Difficulty
The quintessential example of the marketing department triumphing over reality. Runs in Vail are graded to make middle aged, middle American riders of middling ability on their annual week-long trip feel good about themselves. Grading can best be described as over enthusiastic.
The Front Side is groomed to within an inch of its life.
Grooming continues right through the day. You can ski freshly groomed powder, just when you thought every run had been tracked out for the day.
The bowls out the back, called the Back Bowls.
Out of Bounds
Parks & Pipes
While much of the resort is groomed there are plenty of blue and black runs never groomed, some are gromed once a week
The Back Bowls are the mecca for powder in Vail. Unfortunately, the Back Bowls face south so the snow quality deteriorates quickly once the sun comes out after a storm.
The front side has some tree runs but the best sheltered runs are at blue sky basin, to get there you have to get through the treeless runs of the back bowls. this can be tough in a whiteout.
Daytime low temperatures in the teens with averages in the 20's and 30's, below 30 degrees at night. In summer, average temperatures are 75 degrees daytime, 45 degrees nighttime Vail sees more than 300 days of sunshine per year. (All temps in Farenheit)