Ultimate Vail & Beaver Creek Skiing Guide – and New Year's Eve!

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Vail is one of the most incredible skiing and snowboarding experiences you can do. Beaver Creek is a stunning ski resort offering wonderful views and runs for all skill levels. Both Vail and Beaver Creek have villages full of shops, cute cafes, resorts, restaurants, and a beautiful mountain atmosphere. Combining all of this, and sprinkle in the fact that you can make a special visit for New Year’s Eve, and what do you get? An action-packed fun-filled adventure that you will never forget!

In this article, we are going to tell you the best ways to experience Vail and Beaver Creek, both on the mountain and off of it. We will tell you in depth all of the ways we were able to make this an extremely special experience, so that hopefully you’ll learn something new for a trip of your own! And we will share a few tips and tricks to hopefully save you some time or energy on your adventure.

If you’d like to watch our adventure in addition to getting all these tips and tricks, check out this video we put together! If you like it, we’d love if you subscribed to our channel!

Vail – Skiing & Snowboarding

The number one reason to go to Vail is because of the absolutely stunning skiing areas. Vail is without-a-doubt the best ski resort we have ever experienced. Why? Let’s go over a few reasons. Here are some fast facts on Vail:

  • 195 Ski Runs
  • 29 Lifts and 2 Gondolas
  • 145 Miles of Runs
  • Over 300 Inches of Snow per Year

Vail has 145 MILES for you to ski and snowboard. That is so much that it is almost beyond comprehension! You could literally ski here for weeks and still have not gone on every single run.

That makes for an extra special adventure because it means that you will always be able to find something new to do during your time in Vail. There are 4 different maps needed just to show all of the runs that are spread out over the various interconnected peaks. Let’s start with the front-side of the mountain, which is the most popular area of the resort.

Vail Front Side

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Vail – Front Side Ski Area Map

Vail’s front side starts at the base of the mountain in Vail Village and continues all the way to the top peaks of Vail, over 11,000 feet in elevation. We recommend starting each day at one of the 2 gondolas, either Gondola One or Eagle Bahn Gondola.

Fun Fact: Gondola One is the first ever gondola in North America!

We started at Eagle Bahn Gondola each day, but only because that’s where our Airbnb was. Just head to the closest gondola to your lodging and you’ll be good to go! If you are looking for beginner runs, look for the green circles, as these mark the easiest runs in the resort, followed by the intermediate blue squares and the expert black diamonds.

The easiest section of the resort is right near the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, where there is a collection of green and blue runs to practice on. If you are looking for more challenging runs, you can definitely find a few fun ones on the front side of the mountain. However, the best place for expert skiing and snowboarding in Vail is the back bowls.

Vail’s Legendary Back Bowls

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Vail – Back Bowls Map

The back bowls in Vail are some of the most fun we’ve had on a mountain, ever. Each and every bowl has its own set of challenges for you to find and conquer, our favorite of which was the China Bowl. No, that isn’t just because we love Chinese food served in bowls, though that is true. China Bowl was full of a ton of incredible runs, and there was blue square runs for those who wanted to avoid the black diamonds.



 

Photography Equipment

 

We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!

 

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We spent about half of one of our days in Vail just at the China Bowl, skiing down Chopstix and Poppyfields and Dragon’s Teeth. We also jumped over to Siberia Bowl and took on Gorky Park and Orient Express, both of which were awesome as well.

However our favorite set of runs in Vail’s back bowls was the run that took us off to Blue Sky Basin, located even further back from the back bowls! From Patrol Headquarters, you will have to head down The Slot, up Sun Up Express Lift, and down Jade Glade all the way to the Skyline Express Lift. Now you’re on your way to the Blue Sky Basin!

Blue Sky Basin

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Vail – Blue Sky Basin Map – All Maps Courtesy of Vail Resorts

The Blue Sky Basin was a jaw-dropping section of ski runs located at the very back of Vail. Not only were all the runs back here incredibly fun, but the views from Blue Sky Basin will knock your socks off. From the peak you can see for miles and miles, especially on a beautiful clear day.

We hung out in Pete’s Bowl for most of our time at Blue Sky Basin. Grand Review and Resolution were awesome runs, as well as Cloud Nine and The Star. We also did In The Wuides and Montane Glade in Earl’s Bowl, both of which were super fun.

Without a doubt, you have got to make some time to get back to Blue Sky Basin. It is better to start making your way back here right away when you get on the hill, for two reasons. First, it takes a while to make it all the way back, and you’ll want to maximize time at Blue Sky Basin. Second, you’ll beat everyone out there and have the entire place to yourself!

Game Creek Bowl

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Vail – Game Creek Bowl Map

Game Creek Bowl is the fourth section of Vail that has its own map. Like Blue Sky Basin, this is an awesome section of the park, but it is a bit smaller. For that reason, there is only one lift in this section, however that does come with a big bonus: there are runs for everyone here and you can all meet at the bottom!

One of the challenges when skiing, especially in larger groups, is varying skill levels of the skiers. In Game Creek Bowl, there are black diamonds, blue squares, and a green circle, all of which lead right back down to the Game Creek Express Lift!

Because of this, there is no chance that anyone in the group gets lost or goes to the wrong lift. Everyone can take their runs at their own pace and everyone can meet at the bottom for the lift back up to the top!

Vail Village

Vail Village is absolutely one of the big draws to coming to this mountain escape. The village is around 1 mile long, spreading out from the base of Gondola One, and going all the way to the base of Eagle Bahn Gondola.

The shops in Vail Village are the perfect place to stock your winter wardrobe or to pick up a gift for a loved one back home. And if you forget anything you need for skiing, like a helmet or goggles, then this is the perfect place to pick it up! Of course, there are also a ton of ski and snowboard rental shops in Vail Village, so if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing gear along, you’ll be set.



 

Travel Accessories

 

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Also in Vail Village are so many cute cafes and delicious restaurants it’ll make your head spin. We ate at Garfinkel’s at the end of a long day skiing and gobbled up all the delicious food we could get our hands on. At Gondola One, any of the places around the ice rink will be delicious, and we recommend taking a special trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a yummy dessert!

One final awesome thing you can do in Vail is to go ice skating! There is a gorgeous little rink right in the center of Vail Village, and a few skate rental shops for you located right nearby.

Vail Free Gondola

This is a special bonus when you stay in or near Vail. The Eagle Bahn Gondola is free for non-skiers after a certain point during the day! For us, the free gondola started at 3:30, since that is when the gondola closed for skiers.

At the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola is the awesome Eagle’s Nest, where you can walk around and explore a bit on foot. Also up here is a delicious restaurant, where you’ll be able to enjoy dinner with a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains from above. The free gondola and mountaintop dinner will be a special experience, trust us!

Beaver Creek – Skiing and Snowboarding

Beaver Creek is located just about 10 minutes from Vail, and is an absolutely incredible skiing and snowboarding destination as well. While Beaver Creek is smaller than Vail, it is equally as impressive, and offers a huge variety of runs that make for an extremely fun time.

  • 150 Runs
  • 22 Lifts and 1 Gondola
  • Terrain Park

3 things set Beaver Creek apart: the view, the variety and the cookies. First off, let’s talk about the view. We spent one day at Beaver Creek, and thankfully it was a crystal clear sky. From the top of Beaver Creek, you’ll be able to see for miles and miles all around the mountain. The surrounding Rocky Mountains make for an absolutely stunning backdrop to every single run you’ll do throughout the day.

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Beaver Creek – Ski Area Map – Courtesy of Beaver Creek

In addition to the scenery and views, the variety of activities for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels on Beaver Creek is astounding. If you are the best of the best, then the Birds of Prey section is full of awesome runs for you. This is where many ski racing competitions have been held over the years, so you know it is going to be a challenge.

If you are more of an amateur, then you can pretty much go anywhere in the entire resort outside of Birds of Prey! And for any beginners, the top of Beaver Creek Mountain near the Cookie Cabin is a perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard. In this area of the resort, the hills are not steep and they stay groomed, which makes for a great learning environment.

On top of all of that, there is a terrain park at Beaver Creek that is a blast to use! The jumps, boxes, and rails are not very big, which makes them less intimidating and much less dangerous, which is perfect for us amateurs. We weren’t getting any massive air or anything, but we were having a ton of fun, and that’s what counts, right?

Finally, Beaver Creek literally hands out free cookies at the base of the mountain. This is not a joke. There are people walking around handing out free fresh baked cookies as you are getting on the lift! What is better than a yummy fresh-baked treat right as you are setting off for an awesome adventure on the mountain? Nothing.



 

Clothing We Love

 

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Beaver Creek New Year’s Eve

If you are in Vail and Beaver Creek during New Year’s Eve, then you simply MUST check out the celebration in either Beaver Creek Village or Vail Village. There are three separate events that make this such a special experience: the light show, the torch run, and the fireworks display.

For starters, there is the light show, which is open for anyone of any skill level to sign up for. If you have any kids along in your group, this would be a perfect activity and a great way to bring in a new year with a special experience. For the light show, a huge group of skiers tie glow sticks and light bars to their helmets or arms. The end result is a river of bright colors making its way down the hill! Talk about an awesome start to the Beaver Creek New Year’s Eve.

After the light show comes the torch run. For this, the Beaver Creek ski instructors make their way up a steep section of the mountain and ski down in a choreographed formation. On its own, that would be cool. However, in the torch run each of the instructors is holding a lit torch spouting flames in each hand! This is a truly awesome display, as a parade of fire flows down the steep mountain all the way to the base.

Finally, after the light show and the torch run (which you can check out in the video below) make your way to the ice rink at the center of the village for the incredible fireworks display. Beaver Creek’s New Year’s Eve show spares no expense when it comes to the fireworks, and this is a very awesome show that lights up the entire sky. We found that this was a very special way to end our Vail and Beaver Creek trip, and the perfect way to bring in a new year.

Vail Beaver Creek Vlog

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Thank you so much for reading our article on skiing and snowboarding in Vail and Beaver Creek. If you have any questions at all, please reach out in the comments and let us know. If you loved this article, please use the below images to Pin It and save for later!

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