Ski at the largest resort in North America
The largest single ski resort in North America has over 10 square miles of skiable terrain—and what terrain it is. From manicured trails on the front side to the seemingly endless majesty of the world-famous Back Bowls, Vail has something for everyone. The town itself, built in the 1960s, lacks the character of other Colorado ski towns, but visitors are here for the skiing, and for that they have one of the world’s top five resorts.
Vail possesses 34 lifts, including the biggest, fastest set of high-speed detachable quads on one mountain. Seven natural bowls filled with dry, fluffy powder stretch over six miles wide on the backside of the mountain—a good-size resort in themselves. The new Blue Sky Basin offers 645 more acres of gladed runs (and no groomed trails) in the wilderness, a quieter and more isolated experience.
Vail is also home to the Colorado Ski Museum and Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Peruse a collection of more than 1,500 photographs and articles from over 130 years.
The deluxe Lodge at Vail has the best slope-side location in town (and Mickey’s Lounge in the lodge leads the pack for après-ski entertainment). Another good choice is the Sonnenalp Resort of Vail in Vail Village. A full-service spa, a riverside pool and 88 luxury suites create an atmosphere of Old World charm that might have you wondering how it is you woke up in the Alps.
Beaver Creek Resort is close enough to Vail to ski one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. (Vail and Beaver Creek lift tickets are also valid at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, all within 40 miles and linked by a shuttle service.) Beaver Creek offers 146 trails across three mountains. It brings to mind a sheltered town in the Alps. The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, named in honour of a group of old fogeys who settled here in the early 1900s, centres on a grand timber lodge designed like those in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. The ski-in/ski-out place has nearly 100 fireplaces to keep it cosy and a 21,000-square-foot spa with three rock-lined grottoes and a river hot tub to keep its guests happy.
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Trip idea text ©Patricia Schultz. For contact information about the places mentioned and many more USA trip ideas, see Patricia Schultz's blockbuster book.