VAIL SKI RESORT GUIDE
Vail Ski Resort Overview
Vail Ski Resort. and Vail Valley offer a wide variety of terrain and fun for families, extreme skiers, snowboarders, newcomers, and everyone in between. All of this is conveniently located ~2 hours west of Denver International Airport. With more than 190 trails, a Front-side alone that has more ski area than most major resorts and 7 back bowls (8 including Game Creek), plan to spend several days.
The Vail ski area has an average annual snowfall of 30 feet of snow (370 inches), an average base depth of more than 45 inches, and plenty of powder all season long (all that while enjoying ~300 days of sunshine). The Epic Pass provides unlimited access (5 days for an adult to break even), and the Epic Local provides up to 10 days per season (only 4 days for an adult to break even). Vail’s leading teaching program offers group and private lessons with global instructors for all levels. Vail has three main base villages; all are pedestrian-friendly and offer ski-in and ski-out access.
Vail Village offers a vibrant après ski season, fine dining and regularly hosts events. Getting around is easy. As one of the top ski resorts in the world, Vail Resorts has made everything incredibly easy for their signature resort. Everything from ski rentals to a Vail pass for the day is easily available and navigable from within Vail resort.
Size and scale are hard to match.
Excellent variety of terrain for differing ability levels with convenient access to meet between runs.
Expansive back bowls preserve powder.
Charming, European-style pedestrian base villages with plenty of luxury shopping, colorful après ski scene, and fine dining.
Relative ease of travel (2 hours from Denver Airport or fly directly to Eagle-Vail from 10 American cities).
It can be crowded and lifts bottleneck during peak times (weekends, holidays, and after a big storm).
Budget travelers beware, while there are budget-friendly accommodations near by, the resort is a relatively more expensive resort for lessons, on-mountain dining, and other amenities.
Super steeps are lacking.
Vail Ski Resort is massive; pick an area for a day (see our full-day itineraries) and avoid spending your time traversing.
Avoid "11 at 11" - meaning being at the top of Chair 11 at 11 am. The softest snow is on the east side of every back bowl ridge. Be patient; the sooner you drop into the back bowls after exiting the lift, the worse the snow will be.
On powder days, head to Blue Sky Basin; enjoy the more open glades on Champagne Glade and barbeque at Belle’s Camp for lunch.
Ski school is in multiple locations. Make sure you coordinate with your accommodations and members of your party to maximize convenience.
For an in-depth breakdown of Vail's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
Vail can be an easy drive from Denver. Go straight West on 1-70. Cars are not essential if planning to stay within Vail Village. The Village is mostly walkable, and Vail runs shuttles throughout the surrounding area. Avoid driving on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons as the traffic can be bad. Further, make sure your vehicle is equipped for the weather.
Closest Major City: Denver, CO
Distance: ~120 miles west
Travel Time: ~2 hours, 10 mins driving (without traffic)
Travel by Plane
Closest major commercial airport:
DEN - (Denver International Airport)
~100 miles West, ~2 hrs, 10 mins
Closest regional airport:
EGE (Eagle County Regional Airport)
~35 miles East, ~35 minutes
Private planes can also come into/out of Eagle Aiport
Travel By Bus
The Town of Vail runs free shuttles to and from Vail and throughout the town (one of the largest free transportation systems in the U.S.)
Airport shuttle services is available to / from DEN and EGE
Epic Mountain Express owned by Vail; $85 / person to / from DEN
Peak 1 ($64 adult door to door from DEN)
Summit Express is family friendly, though a little pricer
Travel by Car
Cars are not essential if staying in Vail or the sourrounding area
Pros: Conveniece, useful for getting groceries, greater optionality for dining and off mountain activities
Cons: Parking is limited and Vail charges for space in its structures at the base. You can find free parking offsite, but be ready for a walk or even a bus ride