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There are more than a few good reasons jetsetters choose to visit Vail, Colorado’s gold-standard ski town. As the second largest ski region in the United States, it boasts 5,500 acres of scenic ski terrain. But Vail Valley is not just about size: Its well-groomed runs and powdery backcountry bowls rank among the best in the world, with views from Vail Mountain that stretch across the Rockies. Even if downhill isn’t your thing, this winter wonderland boasts a vibrant après-ski scene with high-end mountainside restaurants and loads of cultural and culinary events. Though Vail is best known for winter sports, summer can be just as active, with mountain biking, hiking, and canopy ziplining galore.
Vail is easily accessible thanks to a range of options. You can reach town from Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) in just 40 minutes by car, taxi, or rideshare. The airport serves nonstop flights from a handful of U.S. cities, so it’s best for regional or domestic flights. Keep in mind that since this is a smaller airport, flights tend to be more expensive, and it is known for flight delays and cancellations in bad winter weather. Denver International Airport (DIA) is much larger and more reliable, located 100 miles from Vail. Express shuttles run frequent loops from DIA to Vail and take approximately two hours. Alternatively you can rent a car and drive to Vail, but you should be well versed in winter driving and reserve a 4WD vehicle in advance.
The best time to visit Vail depends on what you’re coming for. For ski buffs, December through March brings the best snow. January receives the most snowfall, and each year Vail accrues an average of 184 inches of prime powder. During this season, the average temperature high ranges between 29 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring is chilly and soggy, but things heat up by June, the driest month of the year, and stay nice through September. Highs crest in July, with temperatures in the upper 70s. Keep in mind that Vail is around 10,000 feet elevation: To prevent altitude sickness, drink extra water to stay hydrated, and be mindful of your alcohol consumption.
Vail Ski Resort is a must for any outdoor enthusiast. Its more than 5,000 acres of snow-packed terrain make it one of the largest in the country. More than 30 lifts whisk skiers and snowboarders to 195 trails that shoot, weave, and dip through the alpine terrain. In summer, it transforms into a hiking and mountain biking paradise.
Lionshead is a Bavarian-inspired shopping and dining complex, situated at the bottom of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Its quaint architecture mimics the traditional chalets of Germany, and the pedestrian-only layout makes everything feel close and accessible. Wander around and explore the rows of restaurants, boutiques, bars with fire pits, parks, vacation rentals, and an ice-skating rink.
Encompassing 2.3 million acres in the heart of the Rockies, White River National Forest is packed with natural wonders and dramatic beauty. Gore Creek offers anglers a place to cast their lines, and there are dozens of hiking and mountain biking trails, picnic sites, and scenic drives.