Vail Ski Resort: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide
01/03/2012 12:01 pm ET
Jan 05, 2012
The Huffington Post
Vail Ski Resort in Colorado is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Vail Ski Resort, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
Vail Ski Resort is located roughly in the center of Colorado, about two hours west of Denver. Vail is the largest single-mountain ski resort in America and is second only to Whistler, a popular ski destination near Vancouver, as the largest ski resort in North America. Vail/Eagle Airport is only a 30-minute drive to the resort and offers nonstop service from 11 cities, including Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The town of Vail itself was built after the development of the ski resort, unlike many mountain towns, where ski resorts are typically added to existing cities.
Based high in the Rocky Mountains, Vail Ski Resort boasts fluffy powder during most ski seasons. Vail Mountain offers 5,289 acres of skiing and features three terrain parks, seven Legendary Black Bowls, nine kids' adventure skiing zones and seven miles of front-side groomers. The season runs from November to April, during which time Vail typically receives 348 inches of snow. In the event of a light snow season, Vail can produce up to 461 acres of its own snow. Vail's summit at 11,570 feet lies 3,450 vertical feet above the base of the mountain, with its longest run at three miles, or 15,840 feet.
Trails And Lifts
Due to the great size of the mountain, Vail is able to offer 31 separate lifts to deliver skiers to its 193 available trails. The lifts are primarily high-speed quads, but the mountain also offers a gondola, a fixed-grip quad, triple chairs, double chairs, surface lifts and conveyors. The ski resort is divided into three areas: the Front Side, Blue Sky Basin and the Back Bowls. The Front Side and Blue Sky Basin offer more traditional runs of varying difficulty, while the Back Bowls incorporate chutes, glades and moguls. Just 18 percent of Vail's runs are devoted to beginning skiers, with 29 percent of runs classified as intermediate and a large 53 percent available only for expert or advanced skiers.
In The News
For better or worse, Vail has a reputation as a place to "see and be seen" and attracts its share of celebrities. Famous names known to reside in or near Vail or who frequent the mountain include Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, John Glenn and Cameron Diaz. Vail is the site of numerous annual events, including the Taste of Vail, the Vail Film Festival, Thursday Night Street Beat Concerts and Vail Holidaze, which offers family-friendly music and ice shows. Vail also hopes to host some events in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Lift tickets at Vail vary in price but typically run about $105 for adults, $95 for seniors and $73 for children ages 5 to 12. Small savings kick in beginning with the third day of skiing, and discounts are sometimes available for advance online purchases. Equipment rentals are also available at varying rates, with basic one-day packages, including boots and poles, running about $34 and advanced, full-week rentals for advanced skiers commanding about $347. Snowboard rentals are available and are similarly priced. Most major equipment manufacturers are represented, including Salomon, K2 and Ride. Ski and snowboard lessons of all kinds are available on the mountain, ranging from $160 one-day lessons for children to $745 private lessons for adults.
The town of Vail offers a wide variety of post-skiing activities -- from spas and shopping to dining and nightlife. Food options range from standard pub grub to the American steakhouse Game Creek Restaurant, which includes a gondola ride and delivery to the chalet via a snow cat. The deck at Garfinkel's, right across from the Vail Gondola, is famous for people-watching, while the Red Lion is a popular music joint. The shops at Vail offer everything from outdoor gear to art galleries, all in the pedestrian-friendly setting of a Bavarian village.
WATCH: Vail Ski Resort
A lot can happen in a season at Vail Ski Resort, the largest single-mountain ski resort in America.