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Vail has been synonymous with skiing since the world-class resort opened in 1962, but especially since President Gerald Ford made headlines with his visit in the 1970s. The skiing here is incredible, on an 11,500-foot mountain with 193 trails over 5,289 acres and some of the most amazing scenery in the state; and that's not even counting the seven famous, naturally formed and beautifully bumpy Back Bowls. While non-skiers may find Vail Resort's "company town" overcrowded and obsessed with moguls and goggles, the area is scenic and relaxed, with a handful of great restaurants and hotels. The central Vail Village area is a heavy concentration ...

Vail has been synonymous with skiing since the world-class resort opened in 1962, but especially since President Gerald Ford made headlines with his visit in the 1970s. The skiing here is incredible, on an 11,500-foot mountain with 193 trails over 5,289 acres and some of the most amazing scenery in the state; and that's not even counting the seven famous, naturally formed and beautifully bumpy Back Bowls. While non-skiers may find Vail Resort's "company town" overcrowded and obsessed with moguls and goggles, the area is scenic and relaxed, with a handful of great restaurants and hotels. The central Vail Village area is a heavy concentration of fireplace-equipped lodges, high-end shops and restaurants with hopping outdoor patios, and it's fun to wander around even when the skiers come clomping back from the slopes over the central, wooden, covered bridge. The Vail resort is the anchor of Vail Valley, the broad area around I-70 that includes generic Eagle, quaint Minturn, growing Edwards and hoity-toity Beaver Creek. The latter town is like one giant suburban mall, with very expensive galleries and shops, but the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is the Rockies' best hotel this side of Aspen, and the ice-skating rink just outside the Ritz is a lot of fun. (The hotel makes its Labrador retriever, Bachelor, available for hiking companionship.)

Steve Knopper
About the Expert

Steve Knopper is the Denver-based author of Moon Handbooks Colorado as well as a contributor to numerous Fodor's city guides.

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Steve Knopper for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter; spring and fall (for deals, particularly in Minturn and Beaver Creek)