When three army vets and a uranium prospector founded Vail in the 1960s, they couldn’t have possibly dreamt that it would become one of the largest and the most storied ski resorts on Earth. As word spread and the village grew around the slopes, it was expressly designed to accommodate skiers, removing the hassles — and possibly some of the old-world charm— you’ll find in older Alpine towns. But its user-friendliness and approachability (even the streets are heated, so you never have to worry about slush or ice), huge amount of activities both on and off the mountain, luxury resorts, as well as family-friendly and refreshingly low-key restaurants, make Vail a bucket-list destination or a yearly pilgrimage for every skier or snowboarder worth their salt.
by Kristen Shirley
ON THE MOUNTAIN
Hit the slopes Skiing and snowboarding. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? With nearly 5,300 acres of skiable terrain, Vail’s seven — yes, seven! — legendary Back Bowls, three terrain parks and 31 lifts, you could spend days skiing and never repeat a run. Book a private guide for your first day to get a grasp on the staggering number of trails, as well as the best vistas for your Instagram. Looking for more adrenaline? Call up Paragon Guides and organize a private tour of the backcountry. vail.com, paragonguides.com
Gear up There’s no shortage of rental shops in town — there seems to be a Vail Sports on every corner — but two specialty shops stand out. At Gorsuch, peruse a beautifully curated selection of top ski brands, including Bogner and Moncler, as well as rental gear. Outdoor Divas offers high-quality ski gear for purchase and rental, all exclusively for women. Owner Michael Callas has fitted boots for more than 20 years, and is an expert at finding the right boot for even the trickiest feet and the highest arches. gorsuch.com, outdoordivas.com
Snow bunny Not a skier? Most hotels can organize snowshoeing for you, or you can take in the sights at a much faster pace aboard a snowmobile or snowcat. Nova Guides’ 13-person snowcat takes you up the mountain in comfort and (heated) style, so you can enjoy the same stunning panoramic views as the skiers, just without the effort. If you want to head out on your own, rent a snowmobile and explore more than 100 miles of trails in White River
National Forest. novaguides.com
Photo Jack Affleck / Vail Resorts, Sean F Boggs, Michael Brands