Mountain Guide

Vail Ski Guides

Ski Kid


While Vail’s size may seem intimidating when starting out and just less than 20% of the mountain is designated Beginner, it is a great mountain to get started.  Vail’s Front Side offers long, wide and open terrain with stunning views to enjoy while  cruising comfortably. Vail also provides plenty to challenge those newer to the sport and within a few days, even the novice will likely be ready for some of the gentle Intermediate runs. 

At the Top


Nearly 30% of Vail’s terrain is designated Intermediate. Gentle cruisers abound on the Front Side, mixed with a few steeper runs to test your skills. New as of the 2017 season, Vail’s back bowls are more Intermediate friendly than ever with daily grooming offered on moderately pitched trails such as Poppy Fields in the China Bowl. 


More than half of Vail’s terrain is designated Advanced (though the terrain is not as steep as that of other platinum resorts such as Aspen Highlands and Whistler). The majority of the terrain in the back bowls is for Advanced skiers – with a mix of deep powder, open terrain and glades. The best snow and a true backcountry experience are found in Blue Sky Basin, the north facing wildlife preserve area. However, don’t underestimate the Front Side as it has plenty of long, steep runs and big bumps.

Intermediates and advanced skiers can mostly stick together at Vail as the majority of lifts offer access to intermediate and advanced terrain. Intermediates can even test their skills with some of the gentler advanced runs. 

Top Trail Picks

Our team of experts has skied them all. Here are some of our favorites in each category.  
Trail Name
Area / Getting There

Just Learning

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Scenic views, wide open

By Two Elk, Access from Chair 14 (Sourdough Express)


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Riva Ridge

4 miles; starting just below Patrol HQ going to Vail Village; striking views, mostly gentle but beware of Tourist Trap (short section of steep bumps)

Front Side Center, Chair 5, Chair 4 or Chair 11 and follow Swingsville 


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Poppyfields East

Introduction to the back bowls on groomed terrain

China Bowl, Chair 4 from mid-Vail, Timberline Catwalk to Chair 14



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Wild Card, Baccarat
Kangaroo Cornice

Medium sized bumps on gentle terrain. Wide and bumps are only on one side so you can bail

Access from Top of Game Creek
Access from Chair 3 (Wildwood)



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Long, steep, endless bumps; a real burner (we like it after lunch at Two Elk)

Front Side Far East, Two Elk peak or Chair 10 (Highline Express)


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Champagne Glade

Seemingly endless glades with soft snow, make your own path

Blue Sky, Chair 37 (Skyline Express) or Chair 38 (Earl’s Express)


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Headwall, Yonder

Steeper terrain, trees and powder stashes, softens up later in the day

Sun Up Bowl, Chair 7 (from Front) or Chair 9 (from Back)


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North Rim

Steep and narrow, quick turns required

Front Side East, Chair 11 (Northwoods)

Steep & Deep

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Steep & Deep 

Exactly as named, steep terrain with tight trees and usually maintains deep powder

Blue Sky, Chair 37 (Skyline Express) or Chair 38 (Earl’s Express)

Showing Off

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South Rim

Steep with plenty of jumps; perform and be seen here

Front Side East, Directly under Chair 11 (Northwoods)

Fresh Powder

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Inner Mongolia Bowl

Hard to access and huge, powder stays for awhile

Siberia Bowl, Orient Express (Chair 22); take Silk road to Poma Lift

On Mountain Dining Recommendations

Vail has 8 different places to eat lunch on the mountain. For fine dining, head to Bistro Fourteen (top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola) or The 10th (top of Gondola 1). If you want a snack on the go, grab something at Waffle Way (base of Avanti Express, Chair 2) or a hot dog at Dawg house in the middle of Blue Sky (base of Pete's Express, Chair 39). Our suggestions for a short break and tasty meal are here:

Wildwood Smokehouse

Even though you are not in Texas, this BBQ spot stacks up. Ski hard in the morning and earn yourself some awesome brisket or smoked chicken with a trio of homemade sauces. Get there early because it can get crowded and may sell out of some options. On a nice day, sit outside and enjoy the spectacular view overlooking the backside of the mountain – perfect to build excitement for your afternoon adventures to work off that meat coma.

Hamburgers in Grill

Belle's Camp

Location, Location, Location. Made it all the way to Blue Sky and want to enjoy a mid-day lunch? The menu is limited but there are plenty of pre-made sandwiches and snacks. The real pro-tip is to bring some food to cook yourselves on the public grill for a truly unique experience.

Two Elk

You can't beat the location, at the top and a gateway to the back bowls, and there may be as many lunch options as skiing options. Select from made to order sandwiches, a gigantic salad bar, grill, pizza and selection of soups. The cookies and brownies are good too. The lodge is huge, but a crowd favorite, so try to get there on the later side (unlikely to run out of food) and after all, it is the perfect place to enjoy lunch after an extended morning of skiing in Blue Sky Basin.

Green Salad


Convenient meeting spot, at the top of Gondola 1. Ideal if you are staying lower on the Front Side or want to eat with those not spending the day on the slopes. Enormous selection of sandwiches, Mexican, soups, salad bar, Ramen. On nice days, consider the outdoor grill and outdoor seating with views of the mountains in the background. 

Size / Elevation
  • Peak: 11,570ft | 3,527m

  • Vertical Drop: 3,000m

  • Base: 8,120ft | 2,475m 

  • Total Area: 5,289 acres |

      21.4 sq km

Terrain Overview

​Mountain Range: Gore

  • 193  Trails

  •     8  Bowls             

  •     2  Terrain Parks

  •     1  Super Pipe

  • Two Elk Lodge ​

  • Patrol HQ     

  • Wildwood  

  • Belle’s Camp / Blue Sky

  • Golden Peak       

  • Vail Village      

  • Lions Head

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Lift Stats

Uphill Capacity: 54,963 ppl / hr

31 Total Lifts

  • 2   Gondolas

  • 3   High speed six packs

  • 14 High speed quads

  • 9   Surface lifts

  • 2   Minimum lifts to access           peak from base

Terrain Mix

Vail Stats