Vail is among America’s most popular and largest single-mountain ski resorts. Its wide appeal includes well-groomed and varied terrain, an energetic après-ski scene, diverse shopping and excellent hiking and biking. Hit the slopes on the resort’s legendary naturally sculpted back bowls or explore the pretty Tirolean-style village.
The resort’s main draw is Vail Mountain, which features 5,290 acres (2,140 hectares) of terrain. The front side of the mountain offers several long cruises and beginner runs while the north-facing Blue Sky Basin is home to almost endless backcountry trails and glade skiing. Head to the back bowls for more than 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares) of challenging terrain.
Learn about the development of skiing at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame. The museum examines the world history of the sport, with a focus on Colorado’s involvement. One room is dedicated to the 10th Mountain Division, a decorated World War II alpine unit that trained in the surrounding mountains. See centuries-old skis and amusing early ski fashions.
Take the kids to Vail Adventure Ridge, located near Eagle’s Nest, to enjoy a variety of activities for all ages. Accessible via the Eagle Bahn gondola, the center offers snow biking, snowshoe tours, mini snowmobile rides and other family-friendly attractions.
Don’t miss the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, at an elevation of 8,250 feet (2,514 meters). They are touted as North America’s highest public botanical gardens and have more than 2,000 types of plants, showcasing the wide range of vegetation that can be grown at high altitudes. Wander down scenic paths lined with wild roses and alpine plants. Notice the rock garden with its gorgeous 120-foot (37-meter) waterfall.
Vail is located in Eagle County Colorado, 97 miles (156 kilometers) west of Denver. Fly into Eagle County or Denver International airports and catch one of the regular shuttle services running to Vail. The town offers one of the country’s largest free shuttle bus services, so it’s easy to get around without a car.