One of my favorite places to shred has to be Vail. I’ve personally waited on writing this review so I could think compile my thoughts about it. I really wanted to give it justice, in light of that, I’ll probably keep updating this one. I’ve never had a bad shred day at Vail. In all fairness whenever I go on a trip to Colorado, I pick the best snow day to visit. So it’s all by design.
Vail is the only resort I can say I’ve almost died twice at. Both times I was riding in the deepest powder I have ever shredded in. I’ve written another blog post where I was a rookie and describe the first time called Mountain Snowboarding.
What Is Vail Known For?
Before my first trip to Colorado, I’d never heard of Vail. Truth be told I was pretty ignorant in my Snowboarding knowledge, and I had no clue about anything except for a few places in Montana.
The resort itself is known for its huge acreage, epic bowls, and amazing vistas. Also, if you don’t know what a bowl is, that’s okay. You probably grew up shredding in the midwest like me, and have only seen tiny runs called bowls (I’ve since stopped calling anything in Minneapolis a bowl). That’s not something to be ashamed of. However, once you drop into one, it somehow changes you and you become hooked.
Is Vail Good For Snowboarding?
To answer this question simply.
ummm, YES!!! I don’t know how it couldn’t be. From the epic snowfall to epic terrain. You’ll love it.
I’ve had powder days at the resort where I’m waist deep in powder, and probably grinning like an idiot. However I’m sure there are bad days too. It gets extremely cold in the mountains, and Vail has a high elevation. This will turn soft fresh snow into ice. Always plan your trip accordingly, and pay attention to weather conditions.
Where Is Vail Located?
You can get to the ski resort multiple ways. There’s even an airport located nearby if you want to spend some extra money and fly in..
Vail is located about 1 1/2 hours west of Denver on I70. I should warn you, I70 is a highway through the mountains and sudden storms, winds, and wildlife can cause delays. Make sure you plan ahead and are aware of mountain conditions.
Whether you’re a beginner or a deep powder rider the resort has what you need and then some. Everyone can find a challenge here. To get a feel for the area, I suggest looking at the trail map here.
I’m always one who recommends a challenge, but ride within a semblance of your skill level. For example; don’t jump off a cliff as a beginner. That isn’t cool. If you’re confident on greens do a couple blues.
Always know your skill level. This way you’ll be safe and have an awesome day of shredding.
Beginner Terrain (Green Circles)
For those of you who are beginners stick to the front side of the mountain. You’ll have plenty of acreage to ride and you can expand upon your skills when you get on skis or a snowboard. The frontside is also close to restaurants, the ski school, and a huge amount of amenities to take advantage of.
When you walk through Vail Village, eventually you’ll reach the main chalet. You’ll see the gondola at the bottom of the slope. Hop onto it and ride it all the way up. This will give you an excellent view of the terrain/area., and you can plan your route down. On the ride down, your skills will be challenged and you’ll gain some decent speed. Try your best to stay in the areas/runs marked with Green Circles.
Intermediate Terrain (Blue Squares)
Once you start to get bored of the green runs, you’ll be ready for intermediate runs. This opens up the mountain a bit more as you can hit a lot more runs. For starters, go up a chairlift past the gondola, and maybe start checking out the bowls. This will give you some extra steepness and the speed will help fine tune your skills.
During my first trip to Vail, it blew me away seeing how much area there was too shred. Even though I showed up a novice I improved a lot on my first ride through the bowls.
Advanced Terrain (Black Diamonds)
I have two favorite areas in the resort, but that’s because I never get to spend enough time riding the others (maybe this season). I love Blue Sky Basin and the China Bowl. Some of the best memories I have involve flying through trees and I’m always sad when the day ends.
It’s funny because, I never leave the ski resort until I’m kicked off the mountain by ski patrol. Or my legs can’t hold me up anymore.
Usually both issues happen around the same time of the day.
Vail Terrain Parks
There’s a few different terrain parks at the resort. They have a wide array of features for you to hit. Whether you’re a novice or advanced snowboarder. They’ve got it covered.
Remember when you shred in terrain parks to do it safely. Work your way up to the more epic features. Wear a helmet as well, and if you don’t have one, check out my guide on How To Purchase A Snowboard Helmet.
Runs And Bowls To Explore
As I stated above my favorite areas happen to be the China Bowl and Blue Sky Basin. Both of these runs have wide expanses of open area that you can play on. They are steep but that’ll improve some snowboarding skills as well as give you an epic time.
Both areas also have phenomenal tree runs, it’s some of the best shredding I’ve ever done. The wind will blow the snow into the trees and it piles up everywhere. There’s too much of it to be ridden all at once, so when you ride through, you can still find untouched powder days after a storm.
Every bowl should give you an excellent experience. If you know how to ride and you enjoy long runs. Drop into one of their bowls.
Vail Ski & Snowboard School
The Vail Ski & Snowboard School has quite a few different options for the budding skier/snowboarder.
The first 3 types of lessons are self explanatory, but the 3rd might not be. Adaptive programs give the experience of skiing and snowboarding to people who might not have the ability too otherwise. It adapts skiing and snowboarding to the person. If you have a disability of any kind, and you want to ski or snowboard. Contact them.
They’re amazing programs, and I’m hoping to get involved in one here in Minneapolis this winter.
Lift Ticket/Season Pass Cost
Vail has a variety of lift tickets and season passes. I always recommend buying your lift ticket online a few days prior to hitting up the slopes. Of course that only matters if you don’t have a season pass.
I live in Minneapolis and Vail owns Afton Alps, I wish I could ride mountain more but only get out to Colorado twice a year. So the Epic Local pass is the best option for me.
Check them all out, and see which one is best for you.
The Best Powder Day Of My Life
One of the times I alluded to above where I almost died was also the best powder day of my life. I wrote an entire blog post about it, because I made some stupid mistakes that could’ve been avoided.
If you read the post you’ll get the whole story, but here is a quick checklist of what I did wrong.
I rode under a line into an off limits area.
There was nobody with me, I was alone.
Stupidly I slowed down in deep powder.
Even dumber, I leaned forward in Deep Powder.
The most seasoned snowboarder (which I’m not) can make a stupid mistake, sometimes it’s easier at the beginning of the season or end of the day when you’re tired. Think through what you’re doing, and make the next time you shred epic.