Known for some of the best skiing in the world, the resort of Vail is located in the stunning Colorado mountains. The magnificent snow-covered slopes and charming little villages offer some of the greatest skiing experiences. Vail is a favourite with skiers and snowboarders from all around the world, with around a million visiting each year.
The resort is easy to get to from various points around the world, with limited flights available from London and other major European cities. Vail is around three hours ahead of British time, making it a great place to experience sunrises and sunsets and the beautiful Colorado landscape. The resorts’ iconic red-and-white lodges, set against the backdrop of the Rockies, offer skiers and snowboarders something different. While the snow may be gone from some parts of the country, the memories of the incredible season remain.
It was founded in the summer of 1876, and its first season was in October of that year. The original owners were Seth E. Johnson and William M. Vail. They were joined by more partners, and in 1878, the Vail Family Ski Club was incorporated. The first chairlift opened that same year, followed by the Mount Baldy Tumbleweed chairlift in 1879, the Empire lift in 1880, and the Skyway lift in 1881. The Vail Village was also established that year, with the first hotel, the Hotel Vermont, following in 1882.
The resort grew rapidly over the next few years, with six new lifts being built and more villages and condos being established. In 1890, the Snowflake ski run was opened, and it became one of the first ski parks in the world. In 1894, the T-bar lift, the first ski-in/ski-out chairlift, was opened, allowing easier access to the slopes for visitors.
The next few decades were hugely successful for Vail. The town’s population exploded, with many new streets and buildings being constructed. In 1934, Vail introduced its famous ski-in/ski-out accommodations, and the number of visitors tripled. As ski technology advanced, so did Vail. The Giant Dipper, the first triple chairlift, was completed that same year, and in 1938, Vail added its first ski school. In the following years, more chairlift lines were added, along with the expansion of the village. Four more chairlift lines were added in 1960, and the Citrus Heights, Vail’s first four-star hotel, opened that same year.
In 1963, Vail hosted the Winter Olympic Games, and the entire town was engulfed in a building project. New restaurants, bars, and shops were opened, along with the Olympic Lodge, which still functions as the town’s principal hotel. The post-Olympic years were quiet for Vail, with only the addition of another chairlift in 1968 and the building of the Vail Summit Hotel taking place. Once again, the town was transformed, with a large number of restaurants, bars, and shops opening.
Skiing in Vail is fantastic. The runs are mostly wide, sunny, and well maintained, making for some amazing ski experiences. The town’s iconic red and white lodges provide great atmosphere and add a touch of old America, and the slopes are fully equipped with the necessary amenities. Day passes for the entire resort, including the summer season, cost around £48/€53, and night ones range from £30/€35 to £37/€41.
The ski season in Vail lasts from mid-June until October, and the resort is open year-round. Day passes are relatively inexpensive, with the peak season creating the most demand and higher prices. The resort is known for its extreme sports courses, featuring tricks, tricks, and more tricks. Participants in these courses need to be prepared to take some risks, and the courses are judged on the basis of creativity and skill. The pros and cons of these courses must be weighed up carefully, especially if you’re a non-skier or a beginner. Some of the courses require a certain degree of fitness, as well, and the courses can be quite expensive.
Besides fantastic skiing, what else is there to do in Vail? Besides the usual tourist attractions such as ice skating and snow tubing, the resort offers something for everyone. In the winter, the trails around the lake are a great place to be. Cross-country skiing is very popular, and the trails are well marked. Snowshoeing is also a brilliant way to see the sights, with the added attraction of some great photography opportunities. In the summer, the outdoor pools are opened, providing a sauna and changing rooms as well. Both tennis and golf are available throughout the year, and there are even ice-skating rinks. The list of attractions goes on.
The main shopping street, Main Street, is lined with bars and restaurants for those seeking a drink after a hard day on the slopes. The street is also home to novelty shops and boutiques, as well as art galleries and antique stores. There is also a cinema, the Vue, which shows both Hollywood and British films. Attractions like these provide a variety of ways for tourists to spend their time in Vail – regardless of whether they’re skiers or not!
Flora And Fauna
Sustainability is a major concern in today’s world, and Vail is dedicated to reducing their environmental impact. The town is a firm believer in the saying ‘Reduce, re-use, and recycle’, and they’ve gone beyond recycling with their own waste management plan. In the winter months, the town is blanketed in snow. It may be pristine white, but that doesn’t mean it’s not teetering on the verge of becoming a skating rink. Because there’s so much salt on the road during the wintertime, cars and trucks can’t be parked there, so the streets become busy pedestrian zones. With all those people out and about, it’s an ideal place for a stroll or a picnic.
The winter months also attract many animals to the area. Some of these are cute and cuddly, while others can be more dangerous, such as snakes and scorpions. The town’s mascot, Sheriff Bill, patrols the streets in the winter, so people can feel safe and secure. In fact, the streets become such a mess that the town’s garbage men have a harder time collecting it. It’s rumoured that the skiers themselves are responsible for a large part of the problem, as they leave their garbage at the bottom of the slopes.
In the summertime, the plant life is at its peak, and the air is filled with all the scents of freshly mowed grass, sun-ripened fruit, and freshly turned earth. The combination of these smells is what makes Vail such a desirable location. There are, however, some potentially harmful insects that populate the area. The most infamous is the black widow spider, which is responsible for the nasty bite that’s all the rage among vampire enthusiasts. The town’s tourism board gives practical advice on how to avoid these spiders, advising that because they’re frightened of humans, loud noises and sudden movements make them likely to flee. They also suggest keeping windows and doors closed, checking for nests, and using fans to move around.
Overall, Vail is a brilliant place to visit – and not just because of the skiing. The entire town has a cosy community atmosphere, with plenty to offer anyone seeking a retreat or a way of life change. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s a ski trip for you here. The only question is, where shall you stay?