VAIL SKI RESORT Expert Guide
Day 1 ITINERARY - GAME CREEK, BACK BOWLS and NORTHWOODS
Trails: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert
Overview – From Vail Village or Lion's Head – Game Creek – Sun Down Bowl – Sun Up Bowl – Lunch @ Wildwood – Sun Down Bowl – China Bowl – Northwoods – Return to Base
1. 8:30AM – Heading up the Mountain
From Vail Village: Take Gondola 1 and exit right (past the Mid-Mountain restaurant) to Chair 3 (Wildwood Express). This will take you to the peak of Game Creek Bowl and the Wildwood Smokehouse.
From Lion’s Head: Take the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Eagle's Nest. Then take the short traverse to Chair 7 (Game Creek Express) to the top of Game Creek Bowl.
2. 9:30AM – Front Side Warm-Up
Take a warm-up run cruiser down Hunky Dory. If you are feeling warm and ready for something steeper, stay closer to Chair 3 and take Kangaroo Cornice. Return to the bottom of Chair 3, ready to carve turns in your first bowl of the day.
3. 9:30–10:30AM – Game Creek Bowl
Game Creek is the only terrain on Vail's Front Side considered a bowl and is easy to access. Most of its terrain is gentle and will help you continue to loosen those legs. Follow the trail back under Chair 3 and take Ouzo or continue down to the right and take the gladed option in Ouzo Glade – both tend to hold on to softer stuff. Take a few runs up and down Chair 7.
4. 10:30AM–12:30PM – Sun Down and Sun Up Bowls
From the Wildwood Smokehouse and top of Game Creek Bowl, you are well positioned to access the Sun Down Bowl (which otherwise requires taking a
minimum of two lifts to access). While it takes dedication to access this bowl, you will be rewarded as the powder tends to last longer and there's ample opportunity to make fresh tracks.
On sunny days, the SunDown Bowl basks in the morning sunlight and softens as the day goes on. Head down Straight Shot or explore the area by staying to your skier’s right along Ptarmigan Ridge and cut down any of the trails. You are bound to find fresh tracks – O.S. is the farthest right. Enjoy some steep and deep terrain before reaching the Sun Down Catwalk that leaves you at the bottom of Chair 5 (High Noon Express). This takes you to the top of Sun Up Bowl and Patrol Headquarters. (The Sun Up Bowl can also be accessed from the Front Side taking Chair 4 if coming from mid-Vail and Chair 11 from the east side of the mountain).
Chair 5 cuts up the middle of the Sun Up Bowl ridge and enables you to access terrain on both sides. Try Wow or Forever first and return to Chair 5, then work your way to your skier’s left. The Slot and Milt’s Face (generally with large bumps) give you the option to take Chair 9 (Sun Up Express). If you're getting hungry, head down the Front Side – check out Power Line Glades and then take Chair 3 directly to Wildwood Smokehouse.
5. 12:30PM – Lunch at Wildwood Smokehouse (see more on lunch options)
Wildwood Smokehouse is one of our favorites for on-mountain dining. Authentic BBQ is well-deserved after a morning of bowl skiing.
6. 1:30–3:00PM – Re-visit Sun Down and Sun Up Bowls and head to the China Bowl
Given that it's harder to get to the Sun Down Bowl, take advantage of your position and repeat your favorite run or pick a new one as you make your way left (when facing downhill). Take the High Noon Express up again and then head down The Slot to access the top of China Bowl. From there, check out out Emperor’s Choice or Ghengis Khan. The latter starts with a steep cornice that bridges into a steep pitch and powder tends to pile up. Or continue to work your way left and visit the glades of moderately-pitched Shangri-La.
7. 3:00–4:00PM – Cruisers on Northwoods and Return to the Base
Lifts in the back bowls tend to close around 3PM so start to make your way back to the Front Side. Take a couple of runs off of Chair 11 (Northwoods Express) to end the day. First Step offers some bumps before linking into Northstar which has a nice pitch and is usually groomed. End the day with Riva Ridge from the top of Chair 11 all the way to the base (just beware of Tourist Trap, which is short but has big bumps). To avoid these bumps at the end of the day, take Skip Road and then re-connect to the bottom of Riva Ridge, which runs directly into Vail Village/Golden Peak. To return to Lion’s Head, you can also take Riva Ridge – just make sure to stay left at the bottom and build enough speed for the connecting catwalk.
Congratulations – you’ve explored Vail's Back Bowls - Time for Après Ski!