The Must-Read Guide of Vail, Colorado

The Must-Read Guide of Vail, Colorado- Where to Stay, how to ski the Mountain, Where to Eat and Drink.

Vail is one of the most renown ski resorts in the world. It was one of these resorts I always wanted to visit when I was young growing up in Argentina. Luck struck me and I was able to visit several times, and also worked for Vail Resorts long time ago now. International visitors always want to visit either Vail or Aspen. Those are the famous resorts they know. This made me then put together the Must-Read Guide to Vail to help you organise your trip to this grand resort!

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Vail's 10th Mountain Division skier. Photo: Vicky Galarraga. @vickydevail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail’s 10th Mountain Division skier. Photo: Vicky Galarraga. @vickydevail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

The History of Vail

Ute Indians used to settle within this territory in the summer. They used to travel to the most arid lands on the west during winter. The Utes used to call the Gore Range that overlooked the valley the “Shinning Mountains”.
Came WWII and the United States created a training center called Camp Hale. Here the 10th Mountain Division trained for alpine combat. They went on to fight on the Mountains of Northern Italy. When they came back, they were the force to develop the ski industry in the USA.
One veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, Peter Seibert, came back to Colorado. He joined the Aspen Ski Patrol and Ski School. Then he went on to become the manager of Loveland Basin Ski Area. At that moment, Seibert and Earl Eaton start looking on developing a new ski resort in the Rockies.
Eaton was local to Colorado and started skiing when young. By 1940, he was ski racing in Aspen while working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Glenwood. In 1957, he and Seibert climbed Vail Mountain in winter and realised of its potential as a ski area.
Friends Skiing Groomed Terrain in Vail, CO.. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Friends Skiing Groomed Terrain in Vail, CO.. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail Mountain was property of the United States Forest Service, as it is the case of many ski areas in the US. What both entrepreneurs did not have was any money. But Seibert was quick to secure investors. By paying $10,000 for a condo unit, investors were getting a lifetime season pass. Like that Seibert got $1 million in the bank, which is what he needed to pay the permit of the USFS.
1962: Vail opened on December 15, 1962 with a Bell gondola that connected Vail Village to Mid Vail. There were as well two chairlifts, many condominiums and base facilities. That year the snow was not that good and construction kept in place till opening day. Marginal conditions met the skiers on opening day. Lift tickets were $5 for the first year . There was on offer one gondola, two chairs, eight ski instructors and nine ski runs.
The legendary Back Bowls of Vail. Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The legendary Back Bowls of Vail. Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.
One of the selling points of Vail was that it was half the distance from Denver than Aspen.
1960s: Vail Village grew at an incredible rate in the 1960s. In the 1968-69 ski season Bell Gondola installed the Lionshead Gondola. It was a six-cabin tramway that went up from the new Lionshead Base.
Vail Village in the 60s. Photo: Pinterest - Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail Village in the 60s. Photo: Pinterest – Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
President Ford travelled that year to Vail and became very impressed. He went yearly and finished buying property in Vail.
1970s: More construction in Vail. Vail Associates erected new trails and lifts. The Town of Vail in the meantime built a transit system, a library, an ice arena and parking structures. Denver won the Olympic bid in 1976 for the Winter Games. Vail and the area that nowadays is Beaver Creek were going to be the sites for the downhill events. The people in Denver rejected the games and that was it. The ski industry was very upset.
Pete Seibert, one of the founders of Vail Mountain. Photo: Pinterest - Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Pete Seibert, one of the founders of Vail Mountain. Photo: Pinterest – Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
1980s: In the summer of 1985, Vail hired Doppelmayr USA lift company. They were to install four high-speed quad chairs, which were the rage at the moment. We were moving away of the fixed grips. These were having three sets of cables, two that were on the upload and download of skiers and boarders. The other was one that zipped the people up fast to the mountains. This allowed guests having more time to upload and get off the lift with safety and then get more people up faster.
Skiing was about people looking good. (And it is still like that today!). Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Skiing was about people looking good. (And it is still like that today!). Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Doppelmayr installed the following. Vista Bahn, Mountain Top, Northwoods and Game Creek lifts. All this investment and the development of the Back Bowls, made the ski experience in Vail great at the time. Vail celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1988-89. The China Bowl opened that same year with a new quad chair, making Vail the largest ski area in North America.
The Lionshead base area in yesteryear. Photo: Vail Mountain- Pinterest. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The Lionshead base area in yesteryear. Photo: Vail Mountain- Pinterest. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Come 1989-90 season, Vail and what is today Beaver Creek hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships. This put Vail in the media’s spotlight all over the world.
1990s: In January 1997, Vail Associates bought Keystone and Breckenridge. Like this, Vail became the largest single operator in Colorado’s ski industry.
In the same season, work began to change the old Lionshead gondola for the Eagle Bahn Gondola. This new gondola, still today, uplifts 12 passengers in each cabin.
President Ford was resident in Vail. Here at the Vail Golf Course. Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
President Ford was resident in Vail. Here at the Vail Golf Course. Photo: Pinterest. Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.
Blue Sky Basin was the next major project. Vail Resorts obtained the permit from the USFS to install three new high-speed quads. This was in the 1999-00 season.
Many more works took place to see what is the Vail we have today. I am not going to expand on it in this guide.
An old Poster of Vail. Pinterest- Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
An old Poster of Vail. Pinterest- Vail Mountain. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

How to get there

By Air:

DEN – Denver International Airport, located two hours away. The nearest airport for international and many of the domestic flights. Denver receives non-stop international flights from:
Cancun, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, London, Mexico City, Montreal, Munich, Reykhavik, Tokio and Toronto.\
EGE – Eagle Vail receives flights from Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami or Dallas. International flights can connect via any of these hubs.
Young and Independents enjoy the mountain in Vail, CO. Photo by Craig Orsini, Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Young and Independents enjoy the mountain in Vail, CO. Photo by Craig Orsini, Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

By Land Transfer –

Epic Mountain Express: What used to be Colorado Mountain Express offers shared transfers. They have a desk at DIA and EGE airports. https://www.epicmountainexpress.com/
Freshtracks Transportation offers also transfer to other resorts:
Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone.
Powder Skiing in Back Bowls In Vail, CO. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Powder Skiing in Back Bowls In Vail, CO. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

By Car –

From Denver, take US 6 and then go to the I-70 and it is 97 miles to the west. Take into account that there can be traffic on the weekends.
From Grand Junction – Travel east on the I-70 for 147 miles. The road across the Glenwood Springs Canyon is worth the trip! It consists of two roadways, one on top of the other one. An elevated roadway with forty bridges and viaducts! A spectacle!

Parking in town

There are a series of parking sites in town, which are not cheap.
If you can, park in your lodging and then take the free transfers around. More info on parking here: https://www.vailgov.com/parking

Ice rink in Vail. Photo: Pinterest. Enjoy Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Ice rink in Vail. Photo: Pinterest. Enjoy Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Local transfers in town.

Vail Valley offers free transfer from and to Vail Mountain and within town. There are a series of circuits of different colours and you wait for the bus and pop in when it comes. Or you can walk around. These transfers are great for those staying in condominiums on East Vail to go into the mountain.
Travel to nearby mountain resorts
Vail to Beaver Creek- 15 minutes
Vail to Breckenridge – 1 hour
Breckenridge to Keystone – 25 minutes
www.Freshtrackstransportation.com – this company also provides Denver airport transfers.

Shopping:

The heated cobbled streets in Vail Village and Lionshead allow you to walk around. It helps you to avoid skidding, even in the coldest days! What you can find there? From exclusive boutiques and all the typical outdoor gear brands, to local jewellery. (I love all the Ute Indians jewellery available!) Also, cowboy boots and hats, and many art galleries that are worth a visit.
Shopping in Vail. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Shopping in Vail. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Where to Eat in Town

Cucina in the Lodge at Vail

You need to make reservations to be sure you will be able to dine there. Call +1 (970) 754-7872 or book through OpenTable online.
Cucina in the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Cucina in the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

Up the Creek

Overlooking the Gore Creek, a simple, yet lovely menu to enjoy. Famous for its truffle fries, ruby trout and scallops. Not to miss! https://vailupthecreek.com/
Up the Creek. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Up the Creek. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Pepi’s Restaurant.

This is from the legendary late Pepi Gramshammer and his wife Sheika. In the heart of downtown at Vail Village steps away from Vail Mountain. Open for lunch and dinner. Eat some European dishes with some American options too. Have a Bratwurst, Goulash or Wiener Schnitzel for lunch. Or go to have dinner for a Jaegerschnitzel, Paprika Goulash or Sauerbraten. http://www.pepis.com/maindining.php

Games Creek Club

An on-mountain adventure! Located below Eagle’s Nest, above the Game Creek chairlift. This is a private membership club during the day but you can visit for dinner. You need to reserve in advance. To access, you ride a snowcat in winter. In summer you can hike or take a 4-wheel drive shuttle.
Game's Creek at dusk. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must- Read Guide to Vail.
Game’s Creek at dusk. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must- Read Guide to Vail.
Guests arrive at Game's Creek. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Guests arrive at Game’s Creek. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Great places for breakfast:

Cucina

Cucina is at the Lodge at Vail. A great place to have a hearty buffet breakfast. Perfect for fuelling up before going skiing
Call +1 (970) 754-7872 – or book through OpenTable.
Breakfast at Cucina's. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Breakfast at Cucina’s. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Vintage Vail

Located at the Gateway Plaza, south of the Main Vail roundabout. This Parisian-style brasserie offers Brunch from 8.30 am till 2 pm Friday through Monday. Go for the Mimosas, eggs Benedict, ‘galette du jour’ and bacon mascarpone stuffed French toast. You can superpower your morning with a “We Speak no Americano”- a double shot Espresso with Amaretto).
Vintage Vail. Looks like a French Patisserie. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vintage Vail. Looks like a French Patisserie. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Westside Café

A great place for a morning hang-over. Locals love to get the Big-Ass Bloody (as called). Pair this with Fat Tire sidecar. Why not try the “Bakon” version? A bacon-infused vodka, a glossy candied bacon and a kabob of pickled vegetables. Ask for the eggs Benedict with sweet potato waffles and fried chicken.
2211 N Frontage Rd West, West Vail; westsidecafe.net
Westside Cafe. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Westside Cafe. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Where to Eat in the Mountain

The 10th

This is a full service lunch restaurant with great views over the Gore Range. On offer there are a series of classic mountain dishes with a twist. Located on Top of Gondola 1. Opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am till 3.30pm.
Book lunch at The 10th.
The 10th Restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The 10th Restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado

 

Bistro Fourteen

Lunch with a view! From here you can see the fourteen-thousand foot Mount of the Holy Cross. Casual sit down dining with a full bar. Great for lunch, après and when you are hungry after being at the Adventure Ridge Center.
Reserve a table through Open Table.
Inside the Bistro Fourteen. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Inside the Bistro Fourteen. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

BBQs on-mountain like the locals.

If you fancy eating cheaper and being cool like the locals, here is a tip. Bring your burgers and buns up. Try Belle’s Camp or Dawg’s Haus picnic in Blue Sky Basin. Belle’s Camp is at the top of the Skyline Express Lift (#37). This is the largest of the grilling areas but is a bit more difficult tot access. Or go to Henry’s Warming Hut (called after the first ski patrol dog). You’ll find it next to Hawk’s Nest. Here kids can have a place inside to get warm while you flip burgers outside.
The only thing you have to do is bring your food as there is your food. Be sure to clean after you eat.
Blue Sky Basin BBQ. Photo: Blog.Vail.com - The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Blue Sky Basin BBQ. Photo: Blog.Vail.com – The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Henry's Hut. Must Read Guide to Vail.
Henry’s Hut. Must Read Guide to Vail.

Where to après:

Vail Mountain 10thWhiskey.com

Inspired by the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained near Vail in the 1940s. The local whiskey distillery uses local ingredients to prepare its malts. The downtown tasting room is in the middle of the mountain village. Decorated with copper, wood and exposed brick. Go and sip some fruit-infused vodkas and sazeracs.
10th Mountain Whiskey in Vail. Must-Read Guide to Vail.
10th Mountain Whiskey in Vail. Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Pepi’s Bar

When you come down on Vail Mountain, walk some steps and you’ll see the lively Pepi’s bar. Owned by late Vail’s Pepi and his wife Sheika Gramshammer, this bar oozes the ambience of après at their native Austria. You can get Paulaner beer on tap. This reminds me of the après in Telluride with the Paulaner boot! I could not understand how locals could drink so much beer in one go!
Pepi's Bar and Restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Pepi’s Bar and Restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Root & Flower Vail

This is where you go and get your Génépy des Alpes and different cabernets, paired with cheeses and charcuterie. rootandflowervail.com
The Root & Flower Wine Bar in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The Root & Flower Wine Bar in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

Garfinkel’s

Located off the Eagle Bahn in Lionshead. Go to this slopeside deck bar to drink pitchers of Lagunitas. If you are brave enough, go inside and turn the wheel of misfortune. You will have to see which shot you have to drink! (That is the only rule of playing that game!)
People partying at the après-ski in Garfinkel's. Photo: Tripadvisor. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
People partying at the après-ski in Garfinkel’s. Photo: Tripadvisor. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Express Lift Bar

This used to be an old coffee shop turned into a full-service après bar- the nearest to the Vail Village slopes. The streaming Block Rockin’ Chocolate is the favourite drink here. It consists of a cream-topped cocoa spiked with vodka and raspberry liqueur. Go there if you don’t want to navigate the Bridge street bars. Located by the Gondola One ski yard, behind the lift ticket window.
Express Lift Bar. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Express Lift Bar. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Tavern on the Square

Your option for going with your furry friend. The outdoor patio at the Arrabelle caters to our pooches with a dedicated Doggie Menu. Get some doggie biscuits or scrambled duck eggs. You can sip in the meantime crème brûlèe Martinis paired with the Tavern Black Forest Fondue.
675 Lionshead Pl (the Arrabelle), Lionshead; arabelle.rockresorts.com
Tavern on the Square at the Arrabelle.Photo: Pinterest. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Tavern on the Square at the Arrabelle.Photo: Pinterest. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Other places to consider for a bite or a drink:

For Mexican food go to “Los Amigos” in Vail Village.
Try the pizzas at “Vendetta’s” and “Pazzo’s”, for many the best pizza in town.
Italian food at La Bottega- they do a Philly sandwich per inch that is amazing!
Best fondue in town (if not a bit expensive) at the Swiss Chalet in the hotel Sonnenalp.
The fondue at the Sonnenalp, not to be missed! The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The fondue at the Sonnenalp, not to be missed! The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.
The best drinks are the Mudslides at the Bully Ranch, also at the Sonnenalp.

The Mountain

You can divide Vail Mountain into three sections: The Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin and the Back Bowls. It’s base elevation is 8.120 feet (2,454 m) and its top is of 11,570 feet (3,527m). It’s skiable area is of 5,317 acres (2,141 hectares). The Front Side has 1,655 acres, the Back Bowls 3,017 acres. Blue Sky Basin has 645 acres.
Ladies Skiing on Mountain in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Ladies Skiing on Mountain in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail’s vertical rise is of 3,450 feet (1,052m).
Beginner Terrain: 18%
Intermediate Terrain: 29%
Advanced/Expert terrain: 53%
Trails: 195
Lifts: 31
Longest Run: Riva Ridge of 4 miles (6.4 km)
Average Annual Snowfall: 354 inches (899 cm)

How to ski the mountain as a beginner

Stay on the front of the mountain. There is 18% of the mountain’s 5,317 acres of beginner trails. Start of Lionshead Village and take the Eagle Bahn Gondola up to Eagle’s Nest. You have panoramic views from the top and can see the expanse of Vail’s mountain. From the top go towards Little Eagle Chair (#15). Do some laps and then take the Practice Parkway away from Chair 15. There are lovely trails such as Lion’s Way, Gitalong Road and Trans Montaine. You can see the famous Back Bowls when you get off the Sourdough Lift.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

How to ski the mountain as an intermediate

Vail is great for intermediates. With a network of blue and green runs and some easy blacks, intermediates can enjoy a great day out. Start warming up on the blue groomers on the front to move later to the Back Bowls. Great runs on the front are Ramshorn, Avanti or Mid-Vail Express. Try to ski the bumps on Powerline, o test the not so steep Northwoods or Avanti.
When you move to the Back Bowls, not everything is for experts. Try Lost Boy and Dealer’s Choice in Game Creek Bowl. China Bowl has easy accessed terrain like Poppyfields West and Chostix. Blue Sky Basin has some adventurous runs like Cloud 9, Big Rock Park and Grand Review.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

How to ski the mountain as an expert

Start in the Back Bowls. Go Sun Down Bowl, from Ptarmigan Ridge to O.S. Lots of snow accumulate below the ridge. The terrain changes from open steep runs to tight aspens to open glades. There is even a small cliff band.
Then go to the Siberia Bowl, more if a powder day. Rasputin is the highlight in big snow years.
China Bowl has Genghis that is long and steep. Shangri-la Glade can be fun.
Sun Up Bowl. It is a bit off the beaten path but worth the journey.
In the front side choose Mud Slide, Lindsey’s to Pepi’s Face, Northwoods, Highline and Riva Ridge.
Then move to Blue Sky Basin. There is lots of variety there but try Steep and Deep. The name says it all!
The famous Back Bowls in Vail. Photo: Jack Affleck. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The famous Back Bowls in Vail. Photo: Jack Affleck. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Some interesting facts of Vail’s ski trails

Lost Boy ski run got its name thanks to a boy of 12 or 13 years old that got lots from his cousins and slept under a pine tree. He was boy scout and was ok.
Bear Tree run acquired its name due to being a bear under a tree that should have been chopped. When the operatives seen the bear sleeping, they left the tree intact. And that gave the name to the trail.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Kids Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

The Epic Pass

You don’t go to the ticket window in Vail and buy a daily pass. Last year it cost $209. The company’s model changed, from selling real estate to sell advanced season passes. If you buy your lift in advance, you will go to the resort at some time, and it will not matter if it snows or not. It is a pretty intelligent idea. The amalgamation of ski resorts in North America changed the landscape forever. Vail Resorts was the first one in the market creating the Epic pass, now with more than ten years. It offers you a collection of ski areas to choose from in North America and all over the world. There are lots of different options that for me are too difficult to explain, but check before you buy. If going only for four days, you can buy a local pass or a 4 days pass. Now due to the curtailment of the ski season due to Covid-19, the Epic pass is coming with free Epic coverage.
Tour operators selling Epic Pass can help you. If not check the Epic Pass website for rules and restrictions.
Family Ski School Instruction in Vail, CO. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Family Ski School Instruction in Vail, CO. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Ski School

Vail Resorts owns the ski and snowboard school in Vail. Americans ski resorts tend to own their ski schools. They differ from their European counterparts. In Europe, there are tons of ski or snowboard schools to choose from.
They offer private and group lessons for all abilities. If you prefer, you can take a lesson as a family. The ski and snowboard instructors at Vail’s ski school are from all over the world. They speak all languages. Many of them work year round, double seasons, from Vail to Argentina, Chile, NZ or Australia.
Adult Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Tom Cohen. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Adult Ski School at Vail, CO. Photo: Tom Cohen. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
I like how instructors and lift operators in North America treat the safety of little ones. You see how there are always lifties helping kids to get on the chairlift. Many times another one comes from the back, to make sure the kid is well seat before the chairlift bar comes down. I have not seen anything like that in European or South American resorts. As a fearful mother, this is great for me to trust my little ones getting on the lift. Now my kids are older and they can sit alone with no help (even if I don’t want to admit it!)
Kids Snowboard School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Kids Snowboard School at Vail, CO. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
(*) If booking for your kids, I cannot more than recommend my friend of childhood from Buenos Aires. Ask for Vicky Galarraga, when you book from the Vail Ski School desk. You will love her!

Mountain Tours

Vail offers this free service for everyone wanting to see what the mountain has to offer. Tours leave at 10.30 am from the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola (Sun-Fri). You need to be at least intermediate skier or boarder for these tours.
Usually they start on December 16th, weather permitting.

Back Bowls Tours

For intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. You meet at 10.15am. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday (depending on weather), at the top of Chair 4, 5 and 11 at Mountain Safety Center.
Starting December 17th, terrain permitting.
Family enjoys a day skiing on the mountain in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Family enjoys a day skiing on the mountain in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Women’s Winter Adventures

For intermediate skiers/riders or above- women only. They meet at t he Express Lift Café in Vail Village (Base of Gondola One), every Monday and Friday at 10.15am. They are to explore the Back Bowls. Starting on December 9th.
Young and Independents walk in the outdoor nightlife in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Young and Independents walk in the outdoor nightlife in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Legacy Historical Tour

If interested in the history of Vail, there is an afternoon guided complimentary tour. You will learn lots of facts of Vail’s past. Tours meet on Tuesdays at 12.30pm on the top of Chair 4- Mountain Top Express in the Safety Center Building.

60+ Ski with Us.

This is for skiers 60 or older, very advanced intermediates or more. This is an all-day tour on Mondays through the National Ski Patrol Mountain Host program. People meet at 9.15 am at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola at Gondoly’s Pizza on the first level of Eagle’s Nest. The group departs at 9.30 am. Stop for lunch along the way at one of the mountain restaurants. Tours limited to the first 30 people signing up each Monday morning.
*Groups of 8 or more, please call the Mountain Information Center at 970.SKI.VAIL (754.8245).
Some friends enjoy après after skiing in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Some friends enjoy après after skiing in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Childcare

At the Golden Peak Daycare & Nursery. Open daily in the winter season from 8 am till 4 pm. They take babies from 2 months old onwards till six years old.

Nordic Skiing:

Cross-Country lessons and tours are available at the Golden Peak Nordic Desk. Reservations are not required.
Ladies Shop in Village in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Ladies Shop in Village in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Snowshoe:

Snowshoe Wilderness Tours offered daily from 10 till 12.30pm for a fee of $120 (rates for 2019/20 ski season). Equipment included (snowshoes, boots, poles and water).
Other types of tours available. For more information visit the Vail Nordic School at Golden Peak. Phone 970-754-3200 or 970-754-3210 (between 8.30 & 9.45 am)

Mountain Guides

Contact Apex Mountain Tours. They give you training in avalanche awareness and take you to the backcountry. This amongst many other things.
Vail's iconic village with the Gore Range Mountains capturing the sunset in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail’s iconic village with the Gore Range Mountains capturing the sunset in Vail, CO. Photo: Craig Orsini. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

Rentals

Vail Sports is the company from Vail Resorts. They allow you to store the skis/boards on their shops overnight. Many locations in town: https://www.vailsports.com/winter-rentals/
Christy Sports another main chain that is in many ski resorts.
Vista Bahn Ski Rentalsby Gondola One. They also have lockers and allow you to leave your equipment overnight. https://www.vistabahnskirentals.com/

Lockers

Vail Resorts offered lockers at these locations:
  • Vail Sports at Golden Peak
  • Vail Sports at Mountain Plaza next to the Vista Bahn
  • Vail Sports at the Arrabelle
  • Vail Sports at Vail 21 building: Lionshead
On-mountain Daytime Lockers $4 (token operated) or $6-8 (electric lockers) Eagle’s Nest (2nd Floor) Mid-Vail (Restroom level)
Ladies Shop in Village in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Ladies Shop in Village in Vail, CO. Photo: Emily Polar. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Other winter activities

Go to the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Adventure Ridge. This is a hub of mountain activities for kids and adults. It offers ski biking, snow tubing, snowshoeing and a place where to have a bite. Kids can also ride snowmobiles on a track designed especially for them. I remember going there to the press room, many moons ago when taking a press fam.
The Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster, something opened in winter and summer. Good for kids 3 years and over (with an adult), on top of the Gondola 19 (Lionshead).

Dog Sledding:

Mountain Mushers take you dog sledding in private, scenic trails amongst Aspen trees. More information: Mountain Mushers.

Snowmobiling:

It is a great adventure if you can afford it. Go with friends or family and a guide to pristine places. Lots of companies in Vail offering this.
Snowmobiling in Vail. Photo: Novaguides. Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Snowmobiling in Vail. Photo: Novaguides. Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Minturn

Minturn is a small quirky historical town that is West on I-70 and then turning on US-24 E.
Minturn was a railroad town in the late 1800s. It was an important point along the Rio Grande railroad line which covered all Colorado.
Minturn was home of the old railroad Turntable. There they could turn the locomotive to go either towards Leadville or Denver. Leadville is on the Continental Divide, through the Tennesee pass. This made the locomotive needing more power. At the Turntable they could add some motor power to the locomotive.
Main Street in Minturn. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Main Street in Minturn. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Vail in Summer

Vail in summer has lots to do. The last years they started marketing it more to international visitors. Lots of hiking trails to go by foot from the village or by taking up the gondola.
The scenic gondola allows you up to 10,000 feet. Kids 12 and under ride free when an adult buys a Scenic Ride ticket.
The Forest Flying Mountain Coaster opens during the summer.
Mountain bikes being transported up Gondola One at Vail, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Mountain bikes being transported up Gondola One at Vail, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Fishing and biking are very popular in the summer.
One thing to go and see is the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest botanical garden in the US at 8.250 feet.
Enjoying the summer in vail. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Enjoying the summer in vail. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
The parks have lots of activities for the little ones. There is one with a pirate ship that kids adore!
A father and son enjoy 4th of July in Vail Village, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
A father and son enjoy 4th of July in Vail Village, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Vail has lots of summer events:

Bravo:

The Philharmonics of New York, Philadelphia and Dallas give concerts at the Ford Amphitheatre.
The Dance Festival is also held at the same amphitheatre. Summer concerts are on some tuesdays in summer.
Epic Discovery activities in Vail, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Epic Discovery activities in Vail, Colorado. Photo: Jack Affleck. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Where to Stay in Vail

Lots of options as you can imagine, with a town of this size. Here are some of my picks:

The Arrabelle

Steps from the lifts, in the heart of the Lionshead Village. This is a sumptous hotel capturing Vail’s alpine legacy. The hotel has 81 spacious and elegant guestrooms and private residences. Their RockResorts Spa features a roof-top lap pool and hot tubs. It also offers an on-site bar and restaurant.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square A Rock Resort Property in Vail, CO. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Arrabelle here.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square A Rock Resort Property in Vail, CO. Photo: Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Arrabelle here.
Rooftop pool during sunset at The Arrabelle in Vail, CO. Photo: Charles Toownsend. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Rooftop pool during sunset at The Arrabelle in Vail, CO. Photo: Charles Townsend. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Arrabelle here.
A private residence of the Arrabelle with slopeside views. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
A private residence of the Arrabelle with slopeside views.
The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Arrabelle here.
A room at the Arrabelle in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
A room at the Arrabelle in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Arrabelle here. 

Sonnenalp

One of the top picks in Vail, this European hotel is five minutes away from the Gondola One ski lift in Vail. The Sonnenalp has three restaurants and a bar. Also a spa with two pools. Pilates and yoga lessons are available for guests. Swiss chalet offers European cuisine and Bully Ranch typical American food.
If going in summer, the Sonnenalp has a private 18-hole golf course.
The Sonnenalp in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
The Sonnenalp in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Restaurant at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Restaurant at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Sitting area at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Sitting area at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
A room at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
A room at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Dining al fresco at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.
Dining al fresco at the Sonnenalp. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sonnenalp here.

The Sebastian

Located ski in/out with access to Vail Mountain Gondola One. Lovely décor and lots of open spaces to lounge. It offers an outdoor pool open year-round and four hot tubs. Go and check Frost, the modern bar, it is pretty cool!
Exterior of the Sebastian at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Exterior of the Sebastian at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Sitting area at the Sebastian in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Sitting area at the Sebastian in Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
A room at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
A room at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Outside pools at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Outside pools at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
The bar at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book at your stay at the Sebastian here.
The bar at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book at your stay at the Sebastian here.
The lobby at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
The lobby at the Sebastian. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Sebastian here.
Located in the base of Vail Mountain in Vail Village, 200 yards from Gondola One. The Lodge at Vail includes a full service spa. Cucina offers mountain comfort cuisine. Elway’s does cut prime steaks, Colorado lamb and fresh fish.
Exterior of the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
Exterior of the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
A room at the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort here.
A room at the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort here.
Outside firepit at the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
Outside firepit at the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The pool at the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The pool at the Lodge at Vail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The Lodge at Vail, a RockResort. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The Lodge at Vail - restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.
The Lodge at Vail – restaurant. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Lodge at Vail here.

Austria Haus Hotel

Austria House resembles one of those family-run ski chalets in the Austrian Alps. This boutique hotel offer 25 exquisite rooms, not two alike. Located on the banks of the Gore Creek, a stroll from the heart of Vail Village. Chic rooms and suites with luxurious amenities.
The hotel is 650 yards from the Riva Bahn, and 0.7 miles away from Adventure Ridge.
Austria Haus in winter. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.
Austria Haus in winter. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.
A room at the Austria Haus. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.
A room at the Austria Haus. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.
The rooftop pool at the Austria Haus. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.
The rooftop pool at the Austria Haus. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Austria Haus here.

Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer

Located in the middle of Vail, this is the hotel of the late Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer and has operated since 1964. You have the bar and restaurants I’ve talked before in the where to eat section. Rooms make you think you are in Austria more than in America, but then Vail seems a bit Austrian. At least that is what you feel when you walk on the pebbled streets in town. A very good continental breakfast is available. Ski rental services are on-site.
The Gasthof Granshammer in summer. The Must-Read Guide in Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
The Gasthof Granshammer in summer. The Must-Read Guide in Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
A room at the Gasthof Gramshammer. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
A room at the Gasthof Gramshammer. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
The restaurant at the Gasthof Gramshammer. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
The restaurant at the Gasthof Gramshammer. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Gasthof Gramshammer here.
Apartments located in Lionshead. As the apartments have different owners, each one has a different décor. There is an outdoor swimming pool available on site. Each unit comes with a a well-fitted kitchen and private bathroom with hot tub and shower.
The Landmark in Lionshead. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
The Landmark in Lionshead. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
A room of one condominium at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
A room of one condominium at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
An interior of one of the condos at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
An interior of one of the condos at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
Another living area of one condo of the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
Another living area of one condo of the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
Another apartment at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.
Another apartment at the Landmark. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Landmark here.

Vail Mountain Lodge by Gravity Haus

 

Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa accommodations include twenty hotel rooms and seven condos. A spa, gym and restaurant are onsite. Located along the Gore Creek only a short walk to Gondola One. Also near shopping and nightlife on Vail’s Bridge Street.
Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
A room at the Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
A room at the Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Bar at the Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Bar at the Vail Mountain Lodge. The Must-Read Guide to Vail. Book your stay at the Vail Mountain Lodge here.
Special thanks to Vicky Galarraga, a local kids’ ski instructor and a local gardening company owner for her help with this guide. If you want to hire Vicky for your kid’s as a ski instructor, contact her through her Instagram account: @vickydevail. She is a great teacher and kids love her, having lots of repeat clientele year after year.
If you like this guide, check the other guides we have, such as Must Read Guide to Chamonix, Summer in South Tyrol, Zermatt, Courmayeur, Lech, Crans-Montana and Val di Fiemme.

You can search for your own accommodation in the snow for your next ski holiday through our Accommodation Search tabOr if looking to stay in the heart of the Mont Blanc Valley in the Aosta Valley, check Il Coure della Valdigne review here. This is our own family home in the mountains, that I am renting out when not using, you can always write me a private message if interested to info@the-ski-guru.com

Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

You can book directly through Airbnb  through this link

If you have some questions, contact us at info@the-ski-guru.com for more information.

If you want to take your family skiing and you don’t know where to start, read here. And search for your ski transfers from all airports to the Mountains here. And for those that are like me, that are lazy to cook, you can get your food, even gourmet mountain food delivered to your home with Huski.

If renting equipment (skis or snowboards)  check our agreement with Skiset– you can get up to 50% off ski or snowboard rental rates. I have been using them for years every year when I go to America  and Europe and they are great!

You can start thinking about your trip, by reading the articles on the Planning your Ski Trip tab.  Or how to pack for your family ski trip.  If taking your furry friend abroad to the continent, read about the new Pet Travel Scheme update from DEFRA. Self-drive skiers also need to plan for Brexit. Check out our tips for driving to the mountains.  If flying and renting a car in Europe, beware of the extra charges they will pass to you if you want winter tyres, snow chains or ski racks. If driving, check the winter tyres news for Europe and North America. You can see how our last family ski holiday was not as expected, even though one plans it to be a success, but how we could do the most of it. If you want to get better before getting to your next ski holiday, here is a quick guide to indoor skiing and dry slopes in the UK. You can also read our week in the mountains during our summer holidays in Courmayeur.

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