Skiing Tips: How to Get the Most Out of Vail
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How to Take Advantage of Vail
by Lisa Densmore Ballard
Vail is a huge resort and can be overwhelming if you’ve never been there—or even if you have! Here are some tips for making the most of your visit:
Vail issues a daily grooming report. They are available at ticket windows and at lift terminals at its base areas. Grab one to figure out where the corduroy is.
Plan at least a half-day to ski Mongolia Bowl or Blue Sky Basin. It takes an hour or longer to get there. Blue Sky, the farthest from the village, closes the earliest at 3pm. The other bowls close at 3:30pm in order to get skiers back to the village at a reasonable time. (The front-side lifts are open until 4pm.)
Though Mid-Vail Lodge is centrally located on the front side of the mountain, it’s a busy place. Plan to meet people at the top near Henry’s Hut, where the Mountaintop Express, Northwoods Express, and High Noon Express (from the back bowls) converge. You can ski in most directions from there.
Consider a guide. They are available through the ski school, on the first day, especially if you aren’t comfortable in all conditions and on all types of terrain. A guide will show you the trails appropriate for your ability level and help you get your bearings.
Buy your lift ticket online and a few weeks ahead of your trip. This winter, an adult one-day lift ticket at Vail costs $113 online, a 25 percent savings. Multiday lift tickets are cheaper per day.
Get an "Epic Pass." If you’re planning to ski at other resorts owned by Vail Resorts, including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; or Heavenly Valley, Northstar, and Kirkwood in California, you’ll save money and ticketing hassles with an “Epic Pass.” The pass covers just the Colorado destinations, other specific regions, or all of them, depending on which one you select.
Make dinner reservations, even mid week and during non-holiday periods. Vail is a globally renowned destination with more than 1.6 million skiers per winter, the most of any ski resort in the United States.
When reserving a hotel room or condo, check its proximity to the lifts and the free skier bus. Vail does not have base lodges similar to Eastern ski resorts, and parking at the Transportation Center, the closest public parking to the lifts, is expensive. Plan to put on your ski boots at your hotel, then either walk or take the bus to the lifts.
If you’re departing on a Sunday, do it before lunch or after dinner! Highway I-70 gets clogged with cars leaving all the ski resorts in both Eagle and Summit Counties. What’s normally a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Denver could take twice that on a Sunday afternoon.
Take a van service. If you’re flying, take a van service such as Colorado Mountain Express (www.coloradomountainexpress.com) to Vail. You won’t need a car once you’re there.