When the snow begins to fall and the temperatures drop, it’s time to strap on your skis and hit the slopes. Vail Ski Resort in Colorado is open every year from June to October and remains one of the most popular destinations among skiers and snowboarders worldwide. Even though it’s a fairly small resort, the slopes are well groomed and there is always something new to experience. Vail also hosts the annual Vail International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF), an international celebration of snowboarding and skiing held in October. The festival screens short films by the best independent filmmakers and live music performances help make the most of the beautiful autumnal colours in the backdrop of the magnificent Rocky Mountains. It’s not an easy place to get to, however, as the airport is about an hour away from the village, which is located in the heart of the Rockies.
The resort is actually made up of two separate villages, with one village hosting the international airport and the other hosting the central part of the resort. Vail International Airport is served by major airlines and has direct access to the village, while the larger, central village provides easy access to restaurants, bars, and the ski slope itself.
There are 24 ski routes, ranging from beginner to expert. The longest ski run is the 7.9km Vail Pass, which features the famous Baked Alaska trail and is served by the gondola. It’s named after the Vail founder, Arthur B. Vogel, who skied down this trail in 1907. In addition to the ski runs, the resort also boasts a snow park with a tube ramp, an ice rink, and a snow cave. The village also hosts the Vail Ski Resort Nordic Ski Center, which offers classes for all levels. Vail’s accommodation options range from large hotel complexes to private homes, providing something for everyone. The Vail Ski Resort also claims to be the birthplace of the snowflake, which remains its trademark (and certainly not a coincidence, as the name Vail literally means snowflake in English).
There are lots of shopping opportunities in the village, with more than 150 shops, including specialty boutiques and other recreational outlets. The Village Gondola, for example, provides access to a range of eateries, cafés, and bars. It also functions as a traditional Swiss railway station, which makes it a hub for travellers seeking to explore the surrounding area by train.
There is plenty of car parking at the resort, and guests can bring their vehicles onto the ski slopes. Public transportation is available, but it’s not exactly user-friendly. The closest airport is Denver International Airport, which is about an hour away by car. An even closer option is Boulder Airport, which is about 45 minutes away. The Vail Resort Shuttle runs between the two airports and the resort itself providing easy access to the snow and the shops.
Those wishing to explore the Colorado mountains by bike can join the 165km route from Boulder to Denver. This segment of the Colorado Trail is known as the Million Dollar Highway and it runs alongside the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. It’s a popular cycling route that begins in the city and ends in the resort. From there, it’s another 45 minute drive to the airport. Those looking for an even challenge can take the American Discovery Trail, which runs from the Mexican border to the top of Mount Whitney (which is the highest peak in the continental United States, rising 4,344m above sea level).
Summer is usually warm in the valleys, but the high altitude and crisp air can still make for some spectacularly beautiful days. In fact, the summer season is the best time to visit the resort as the days are long and the temperatures are mild. Winters in Vail can be cold and harsh, with heavy snows blanketing the entire area. Summer is therefore the best time to visit the resort, particularly as nightlife comes to a complete halt during the winter months. The snow stays on for much of the year, giving skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to pursue their favourite sports throughout the year.
Vail is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and it’s not hard to imagine why. The majestic scenery is breathtaking, particularly in the summer, when the aspens turn bright yellow, orange, and red. The colours pop against the deep blues of the sky and lake. Even though Vail is a small resort, it’s still one of the most popular skiing destinations in North America. The combination of brilliant autumnal colours and some of the best snow resorts make for a scenic getaway any time of the year.
Those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world and rekindle the spirit of the winter holidays will find plenty to do in Vail. It may not be a place you’d usually consider visiting in an emergency, but it’s perfectly safe and there’s plenty to see. Plus, if you need a break from the frigid temperatures (and let’s face facts, we all need one now and then), Vail is literally a few degrees warmer than most other places. It’s the perfect place to hideaway and forget about your troubles.
Those wanting to learn more about the history of the resort can visit the Vail Cultural Center and tour the surrounding Elk Meadows Museum. There are also plenty of bars and eateries in the village, providing a large choice of cuisine to choose from. There are even nightclubs in the smaller of the two villages, which stay open all day long, offering live music and dancing through the night.
It’s now time for you to hit the slopes and enjoy one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. Be aware though that this is a fairly small and cozy resort. The nightlife is therefore pretty limited, so make the most of it while you can.