Vail Mountain And Terrain

Vail Ski Resort has 195 trails, 30+ lift, and 3,450 feet (1,052 m) of seemingly endless vertical that span across several distinct areas that can be loosely grouped into the Front Side (1,625 acres of skiable terrain), Back Bowls (3,017 acres), and Blue Sky Basin (645 acres) areas. The overall terrain mix is beginner terrain 18%, intermediate terrain 29%, and advanced/expert terrain 53% so there really is something for everybody, which is one of the driving reasons why Vail is so popular each season. There is so much to experience and scale to the mountain, let’s take a closer look.

Vail Mountain Front Side – Golden Peak Aera

Beginner Skiers and Riders

Golden Peak is a great place and base for beginners and green skiers to have some fun at Vail Ski Resort. You can warm up on the Gopher Hill Lift and run and when ready you ride the Riva Bahn Express Lift (# 6) to the mid-station where you get off and head skiers left to Highline Express Lift (#10). From the top of 10, you head across skiers left to Flap Jack and ride the Sourdough Express Lift (#14) which gives you access to the green runs. To get back to Golden Peak, you head down Flap Jack and take the North Face Catwalk below chair 11 to Skid Road, Briskwalk, Riva Catwalk, and Windish Way which will drop you back at the top of Gopher Hill.

Intermediate Skiers and Riders

Warm-up on chair 6 to the mid-station and lap Ruder’s Run or any of the groomer’s skiers left and then head up chair 6 and this time jump off the mid and grab chair 10 over to Whiskey Jack for first tracks and across to Northwoods Express (#11) and lap Northwoods. From the top chair 11 you can head skiers left and explore the rest of what Vail has to offer.

Expert Skiers and Riders

Ride chair 6 to the top and either drop to chair 11 or 10 as both offer some great skiing and riding. Off chair 10 try Highline and Blue Ox and off chair 11 Northstar is a ripper as is all of the terrain in the area.

On A Powder Day

It’s all good in the Northwoods area and it’s one of the first lifts to open and last to close, so it’s a great option on a big powder day, as they are usually slower to open up the back bowls. For a taste of extreme skiing, the pillow drops off the Prima Cornice is sure to get the heart pumping.

Vail Park and Pipe

There is a world-class terrain park and halfpipe at Golden Peak which hosts the Burton US Open. Overall you’ll find two terrain parks.

Vail Mountain Front Side – Vail Village

Beginner Skiers and Riders

It’s best to skip this area if you have complete beginner skiers for the beginner terrain. If you can ski the green and you enjoy cat tracks then you can ride the Gondola One (#1) from Vail Village and take Upper Lions Way to Lower Lions Way into Born Free and you can either cut skiers right halfway down back to Vail Village or carry on to Lions Head.

Intermediate Skiers and Riders

For a quick departure from Vail Village head up Gondola One (#1) and skiers left down Lion’s Way over to Avanti Express (#2) for laps that the whole family will enjoy with a kids adventure zone, wide-open groomers, and even some easy fun moguls.

Your other option is to head straight across to Mountaintop Express (#4) and warm up on Swingsville and work your way across to the blues around Cappuccino will set and pep you up, like a great coffee, to start your day.

Expert Skiers and Riders

The lower half skiers left on the Avanti Express Lift (#2) Cookshank and Pickeroon are great fun. Plus the runs you can drop off Clubs Way just be aware to get there you are skiing through a family zone, so park your need for speed until you hit Ledgers, Old 9 Line, and Minnie’s.

On A Powder Day

It’s all good on a powder day, but Giant Steps and Lindsey’s are often overlooked so they might be worth a run or two.

Vail Mountain Front Side – Lionshead

Beginner Skiers and Riders

Make sure you get on the Eagle Bahn Gondola (#19) as that will take you to the top and the purpose-built beginner’s area located skiers right just below Eagles Nest. There are carpets and surface lifts to build your progression on.

Green skiers can ride the gondola and drop into the maze of cat tracks skiers right that take you into the family zone skiing area and from there it’s best to make your way back to Avanti Express Lift (#2) and lap the Eagles Nest Ridge to Pika which opens into three green family zones areas and then back along with Cub’s Ways back to chair 2.

Intermediate Skiers and Riders

Check the grooming report as you are in luck as you can rip up the top to bottom blues from the gondola Born Free, Simba just be aware you can bail out of the black section towards the bottom, by taking Cheetah. Another option is to lap on the Pride Express Lift (#26) and stay high for the driest snow conditions.

Expert Skiers and Riders

You could take a run or two to warm up, or you are probably better off heading straight ahead off the gondola and into Game Creek Bowl along Game Trail.

On A Powder Day

Head straight into Game Creek Bowl and track it out and then keep moving across into Sun Down Bowl.

Vail Mountain – Vail Back Bowls

Beginner Skiers and Riders

Game Creek and the Lost Boy run skiers left off the chair is your only option for green skiers looking to get a taste of the back bowl skiing experience.

Intermediate Skiers and Riders

Game Creek Bowl is possibly your first choice for intermediate skiers, as it’s so easy to get to from Lionshead. The runs skiers left in The Woods, Baccarat, and Dealer’s Choice and for some powder bumps when not groomed Showboat under the lift is a must.

Heading further out, China Bowl, which you can access from the Two Elk Lodge and the Sourdough Express (#14) offers some fantastic terrain in Poppyfields East and West and Chopstix. You can also make your way into it by taking the Sleepytime Road from Sun Up Bowl.

Best to skip Sun Down Bowl as there is no intermediate way down.

Expert Skiers and Riders

Your options are endless as the back bowls cater to predominantly black-level and expert skiers. Just get there as they are opening, for your greatest chance to consume as much powder as possible.

Vail Back Bowls On A Powder Day

This is what Vail was designed for, lapping the back bowls on a powder day. It’s endless fun exploring all that there is to experience and be sure to ski with a buddy or two as it’s a vast area so keep your eyes on everyone to ensure not just a world-class time but a safe one as well.

Vail Mountain – Blue Sky Basin

Beginner Skiers and Riders

Head over to Game Creek Bowl as this area caters to intermediate to advanced skiers.

Intermediate Skiers and Riders

Pete’s bowl has some great runs off Pete’s Express Lift (#39) Grand Review and The Star. There are a couple of choices off Skyline Express Lift (#37) In The Wuides has some fantastic glades and Cloud 9 into Big Rock Party.

Expert Skiers and Riders

Buckle up and strap in because Blue Sky Basin has you covered every way you look. Skiers left off Pete’s Express Lift (#39) offers some challenging gladded lines. Over on Skyline Express (#37), anything off skiers right is spectacular, as are the Champagne Glades skiers left.

Vail Blue Sky Basin On A Powder Day

Send it! It’s all good.

Vail’s Top 5 Green Runs

Swingsville off Mountaintop Express (#4) and Northwoods Express (11).

Lost Boy in Game Creek Bowl.

Timberline Catwalk for great views off Chairs 11, 5 & 4.

The Meadows for open cruising off chair 3, 7.

Sourdough off the Sourdough Express (#14)

Vail’s Top 5 Blue Runs

Pickeroon off Ananti Express (#2) fell the G forces, and you build from blue to steeper black terrain along the fun rollers.

Northwoods off Northwoods Express (#11) is wide open and rarely crowded so you can rip some GS or work on your short radius turns.

Born Free off the Eagle Bahn Gondola (#19) is top-to-bottom leg warming action down this terrain changing fun and playful ride.

Showboat for fun bumps in Game Creek Bowl.

Poppyfiels in China Bowl.

Vail’s Top 5 Black Runs

Groomer on Monday and Friday’s Riva Ridge from the top of chairs 11, 5 and 4. Hang on tight as this one is steep and fast and long. –

Gandy Dancer and Northstar off the Northwoods Express (#11)

Inner and Outer Mongolia Bowl.

Champagne Glade in Blue Sky Basin.

Double Black Prima and Prima Cornice are must ski, if you are an expert.

Where To Ski On A Powder Day?

Where To Ski On A Powder Day Summary

Most everyone will try their luck out in the 3000+ acres of the famous seven back bowls. However, if you are still finding your ski legs or are new to powder skiing Chair 11 over on the North East Bowl offers something for everyone from the open fields of Northstar, or the tree skiing in Snag Park and can be skied in all types of weather.

If you are keen to try your luck in the Back Bowls, then Game Creek Bowl offers wide, open green trails, to more advanced gladed terrain with fantastic views atop Chair 7. Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls will most likely be your first entry into the Vail Back Bowls that are now serviced by a high-speed quad, Chair 9. From there you can head across to China, Siberia, and Mongolia Bowls. And for a more backcountry inbounds skiing experience, that’s a whopping five miles (7 km) away from Vail Village, Blue Sky Basin has to be experienced to be believed and is a locals’ and guests’ favorite.

Vail Ski Resort Quick Statistics

Skiable Terrain5317 acres / 2140 hectares
Vertical3,450 ft / 1,050 m
Top Elevation11,570 ft / 3,527 m
Base Elevation8,120 ft / 2,470 m
Average Snowfall370 in / 31ft / 940 cm
Beginner Terrain18%
Intermediate Terrain29%
Advanced Terrain53%
Winter lifts Total31
Gondolas Trams2
Chair Lifts20
Surface Lifts9
Longest Run4 mi / 6.5 km
Snowmaking461 ac (186 hectares)
Season Opensmid November
Season Closesmid April