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The Vail Ski Resort is located in Eagle Countymarker, Coloradomarker next to the town of Vailmarker. Vail Mountain, at , is the largest single mountain ski resort in the United Statesmarker, featuring seven bowls and intermediate gladed terrain in Blue Sky Basin. It opened in 1962 and is currently owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which also operates three other ski resorts in the state, Breckenridgemarker, Keystonemarker, and the nearby Beaver Creekmarker.

Ski area information

Vail Mountain has three sections: The Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Back Bowls. Vail is the largest single mountain resort in the USA. Vail Mountain is the second largest resort in North America (after Whistler Blackcombmarker) at over 5200 acres. Most of the mountain is wide open terrain, with trails of all types, from cruising runs off of most Front Side and Blue Sky Basin lifts, to the wide open Back Bowls, glades, chutes, and moguls in the Northwoods area, cornices in Blue Sky Basin, and much more. The Vail Village is modeled after a Bavarian Village with pedestrian streets and rugged mountain backdrops.

Unlike other ski towns such as Aspenmarker, Steamboat Springsmarker or Breckenridgemarker which were actual towns prior to the establishment of their ski resorts, the town of Vail grew as a result of the Vail ski resort.


Vail was founded by Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton in 1962, between the town of Eaglemarker, Coloradomarker and Vail Passmarker, which was named after Charles Vail, designer of the highway that passed through the valley. Seibert joined the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II, which trained at Camp Hale, just southeast of Vail. During Seiberts' and Eatons' time with the 10th, they trained at several resorts around the Vail area, such as Lovelandmarker, Keystonemarker and Aspen. While roaming the area mountains, Seibert and Eaton discovered a peak that had the perfect location and base area for a resort, they named this peak "No-name Mountain", but it would eventually become Vail. Construction of the Vail resort began in 1962 in a valley devoid of civilization. It opened just 6 months later on December 15. There were 3 lifts upon opening, one gondola that ran from the frontside base to the peak, a lift from mid-mountain to the peak, and a lift that brought skiers back up from the back bowls. In just 7 years, Vail had grown to become the most popular ski resort in Colorado, and a village had started forming at the base, near the gondola, which had been replaced since its opening. Also at that time, the construction of the infamous I-70 highway had begun. During the 1970s, Vail had blossomed into a Super-resort, and skiers and vacationers had started paying Euro-trip prices for a Colorado vacation. Subsequently, Vail's Euro-esque village began construction and expansion. In 1972, Vail was slated to host the Skiing portions of the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. However, the voters of Colorado shot down the idea, and the 1976 Winter Games went to Innsbruckmarker, Austriamarker.

On March 26, 1976, Vail’s success was tainted by a gondola accident at Lionshead. A carrying cable snagged on a support tower and caused two cabins to snag and derail off the high towers, killing four and injuring eight. The gondola closed the remainder of the season until the Von Roll Lift Company installed a state-of-the-art monitoring system, preventing any further accidents.

In 1989, Vail had another chance to be the center of attention of the international skiing community when it hosted, to incredible hype and success, the Alpine Skiing World Championships. The Championships were held in Vail again a decade later (VAIL99), to even bigger fanfare.

In 1985, Vail opened 5 high-speed detachable quad lifts on the mountain, the second mountain in the country to use them, after Breckenridge. 1996 marked a huge change for the Vail Valley area ski resorts, as Vail Associates bought Vail, Breckenridge Ski Resortmarker, Keystone Resortmarker, and Heavenly Ski Resortmarker. The parent company allowed skiers to buy an all-mountain pass that granted admission to all of their resorts. In 1998, the Earth Liberation Front set fire to the resorts' Two Elk Lodge, Camp one, Ski Patrol HQ, and 4 lifts, causing US$12,000,000 in damage. A new Two Elk Lodge was built in place of the old one, as well as a new Camp One and ski patrol HQ, Poma Ski Lifts Co. added three high speed quads to open the planned Blue Sky Basin expansion. Except for High Noon, most of the lifts only encountered minor damage (High Noon's drive station was a total loss and had to be totally rebuilt).In 2000, Vail added the Blue Sky Basin, an intermediate-expert backcountry area which offers mogul, gladed and tree skiing, cliffs and ridges. .

Vail has not been declared the #1 Ski resort in the US since four years ago. It has been awarded this honor 14 times over the last 17 years.

At the end of the 2005-2006 ski season, the Giant Steps double chairlift, the last double chairlift that could trace back to the opening of the resort in 1962, was removed.According to a press release on August 1, 2006, Vail began offsetting all of its power usage by purchasing wind power. They were the 2nd largest corporation in the United States to do so as well.

In summer 2007, after seven years without a new chairlift, Vail undertook one of the biggest lift improvements at a Colorado ski area when it installed two high speed quad chairlifts to replace the Highline (double) and Sourdough (triple). This eliminated the traverse from the Sourdough lift to Two Elk Lodge.

The ski lift passes for Vail are amongst the most expensive in the world.

Over the past years, hundreds of millions of dollars have also been pumped into the town of Vail. In 2004, the original Lionshead skier bridge was replaced, and in 2008, a new plaza opened up at the bottom of the Vista Bahn Express in Vail Village.

Resort statistics


  • Base:
  • Summit:
  • Vertical Rise:


  • Skiable area:
  • Trails: 193 total (18% beginner, 29% intermediate, 53% advanced/expert)
  • Longest run: Riva Ridge -
  • Average annual snowfall:
  • Terrain Parks: 4
  • Bowls: 10 (7 official)
    • Sun Down Bowl
    • Sun Up Bowl
    • China Bowl
    • Siberia Bowl
    • Tea Cup Bowl
    • Inner Mongolia Bowl
    • Outer Mongolia Bowl
    • Pete's Bowl
    • Earl's Bowl
    • Game Creek Bowl


  • 32 total
    • 1 Gondola (12 person)
    • 16 High-Speed Quads
    • 1 Fixed Grip Quad
    • 3 Triple Chairs
    • 1 Double Chair
    • 10 Surface Lifts


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