Vail Travel Guide

Vail is the second-biggest ski area in the United States—and among the ritziest, too. So it's no surprise that jet-setters from every corner of the g... Read More

Vail is the second-biggest ski area in the United States—and among the ritziest, too. So it's no surprise that jet-setters from every corner of the globe make it their winter playground. Whether it's snow bunnies from Mexico, Australia, Argentina, or New York, everyone is here for one reason: some of the greatest skiing and snowboarding anywhere on earth. Where else can you swoosh down powdery back bowls to slopeside restaurants where you're presented with fleece-lined slippers to replace your ski boots? Or terrain so varied and expansive, you can still discover new ways down the mountain after decades of return visits?

No trip to Vail would be complete without spending time in the Swiss-inspired town, where nearly every building has been built to resemble a traditional European chalet. It's split into two halves: Lionshead on the west and Vail Village on the east. The former has a more intimate feel, with family-friendly restaurants at each end of the price spectrum and one of the prettiest little ice-skating rinks we've ever seen. For the real scene, however, it's all about Vail Village, where town-wide events and concerts regularly take place and white-tablecloth spots with serious culinary muscle sit side by side with lively après-ski bars. Go in the early evening and you'll get to watch as the sun sets over the mountain, leaving a rosy alpenglow in its wake.

With more than 5,500 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain in the winter and rigorous mountain biking and hiking trails in the summer, Vail is the scenic playground for the outdoorsman. Nestled in the foothills of the Gore Valley in the Colorado Rockies, Vail Valley is consistently ranked one of North America’s premier skiing destinations. Sure, Vail has traditionally been a wintertime spot, but starting summer 2016, it will truly become a year-round destination. Thanks to new permitting from the National Forest Services, Vail’s summer attractions will include incredible ziplining, canopy tours, and ropes courses—in addition to dozens of scenic hiking trails—stretching across verdant Rocky peaks. In other words, go any time: no matter which season you opt for, you won't regret your choice.

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Visit Vail

Best Time To Go

Now that Vail offers summer and winter pastimes, there's no bad time of year to visit. The town itself is quite small, so plan on spa days or excursions to nearby hot springs for days you'd rather not spend outside. The best time for winter sports junkies to visit Vail is from late November to March, when the snow is plentiful. Summer sports-and-nature enthusiasts can enjoy the mountain from May to August. Prices peak during the holidays, so avoid that time of year if you’re traveling on a budget.

Transportation

Many regulars fly into Eagle County Regional Airport; it's by far the closest point of entry, but it only serves commercial flights from 11 U.S. cities. (The airport's private landing strip expands its reach considerably—this is Vail after all.) For better prices and a greater range of itineraries, fly into Denver. It's a beautiful, two-hour drive whether you choose to rent a car or take the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle, which costs up to $100 per person and runs on the hour. Once you’re in town, you won’t need a car. Instead, take advantage of the free buses that run between Vail Village and Lionshead.

Weather

January and February offer the best chances for fresh powder, but temperatures can be quite cold on the mountain—average lows are in the single digits, and that's before you hit the lifts. Weather is dry and comfortable all summer long, with high temperatures topping out at 76°F (24°C) in July.

Know Before You Go

Vail's EpicMix app is a must-download for visitors. It will help you plan a day on the slopes according to your athletic ability and how much of the day you want to spend on skis, then track your vertical feet and other stats as you zip around the mountain. Bonus: you can use the interactive trail maps to keep tabs on other members of your group, so it's easy to split up for a few runs and meet up in time for lunch or cocktails.

Language

English

Electric

Type A (two-prong plug) or Type B (three-prong plug)

Currency

United States Dollar ($)

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