Two emblems of the Vail Valley - the Clock Tower with the Gore Range in the background

Vail is a U.S. ski resort town set in the Rocky Mountains. Vail is located in the Northwestern region of the state of Colorado. It is 100 miles west of Denver and 35 miles (56 km) east of Eagle.


Roughly Vail is divided into four zones; West Vail, Vail Village, Lionshead, and East Vail.

Get in

By car

I-70 is a direct route into Vail. It's exactly 100 miles from Denver, and about 130 miles from Denver International Airport.

During peak times, I-70 can get very congested and it is not unheard of for a trip from Vail to Denver to take 3 hours or more. Peak times are weekend afternoons (2PM-6PM) both in the summer and winter. Plan accordingly and either leave in the morning, or leave Vail after 5PM in the winter. If you do leave after dusk, however, be warned that road conditions can get icy. If you are from a major metropolitan area, the drive may also seem very dark to you with virtually no highway lighting and no reflectors on the roadway. Due to the darkness, high beam laws are often ignored. You can get a snapshot of travel conditions on the Colorado Highway Patrol web site .

If you are not experienced with winter driving conditions, you may want to think twice about travelling to Vail by rental car. Although most of the time you'll find the highway dry and perfectly fine, when it snows the road can get nasty. The ride from Denver takes you from 5,280' to the Eisenhower pass/tunnel at over 11,000'. After a steep drop to Silverthorne at 8,750' I-70 winds through Officer's Gulch which is notorious for black ice conditions, high winds and white out conditions when the weather is severe. I-70 then climbs over Vail Pass at 10,650' before the drop to the Vail Valley floor at 8,120'. If you are uncomfortable driving in the severe conditions that may occur on this drive, it is recommended that you spend a little extra money and employ one of the private charter services available in the Vail Valley. Note that although some Denver based companies also offered chartered service to Vail, their drivers often have limited experience in severe weather. Many Denver charter companies also use all season tires in the winter. If you do a little research, you should be able to find a reputable Vail based company that uses studded snow tires during the winter.

Scheduled and chartered services are available from Denver International Airport and Eagle County Regional Airport.

Champagne Powder Day on Vail Mountain

By plane

Fly into Vail/Eagle County Airport (IATA: EGE) or Denver International Airport (IATA: DEN). Note: Vail/Eagle County Airport is still about 35 miles from Vail, a shared ride in a Van from there to Vail will cost you about $70 per person. If you are traveling with your family or in a group, there are a number of private charter services that are also available. These are often more convenient than a shared ride service since they transport you door to door. Although you might think about renting a car, parking is expensive in Vail and most everything is in walking distance or a short ride away on the town's extensive free bus system. If you fly into Denver, you might think about renting a car, but you should be warned that the 100+ mile trip from Denver takes you over 2 mountain passes at elevations of 11,000 and 10,600 feet. An option to get from Denver Airport to Vail is to take a private chartered service that is familiar with the drive and road conditions.

Another Option from Eagle Airport is to use the county bus system (ECO). This is difficult to find: Exit the airport out the front door, make a right and walk about 100 feet to the bus stop. The bus takes about 80 minutes. The bus runs from Eagle airport through most of the towns and goes to the Vail Transportation Center. The cost in 2011 was $4 each way.

Most private "transport companies" quote prices of $120 to $180 each way for a trip into Vail.

By bus

Several carriers offer limo, van, or bus service to and from Aspen, Denver, and other cities in Colorado ($300 one-way), or the Eagle Vail airport ($100 one-way). Greyhound will be the cheapest at $12-30 one-way with advance purchase.

Get around

If you are staying in Vail or Lionshead, having a car will be more hindrance (parking fees) than a value. The town is set up so you can walk between most places and the slopes. There is also a free shuttle that will take you to the immediate surroundings as well as up to Beaver Creek.

By car

A House Finch clings to a feeder at the Vail Nature Center in Ford Park.

If you are coming from somewhere else and skiing, you can park on site. It will cost about $25 (2010) per day. Best advice arrive early (before 9AM) on busy days and you won't have problems. There are two parking garages, one in Vail and one in Lionshead. The Lionshead garage is the shortest walk to the slopes.

If the garages do fill up, you may to park on the road. The problem being that they don't let you park on the road until BOTH garages are filled. So say you drop your friends off at Golden Peak (so they can put their kids in child care) then go back to the Vail parking lot, its full, so you then have to go park in Lionshead and take a bus back to catch your friends.

For those doing child care there is also a ($25/day) valet parking at Golden Peak, cheaper to park at the main Vail garage and walk (5 mins). Most Hotels in Vail, (see: upscale) will provide you with a free shuttle, just ask before you arrive.

Most major car-rental firms are located in Denver and Vail airports.

There a many free buses going throughout the Vail valley. For current schedules see: .



The Eagle Bahn Gondola transports people to the top of Vail Mountain summer and winter.

Winter Sports


Avoid the Lines If you can get on the mountain a little earlier (before 9:30AM) than everyone else you can stay ahead of the crowds and never wait in a line more than 5 minutes. Here are some suggested starting routes:

Lionshead - Don't wait for the gondola, take the quad chair. Ski over to the far side (the far side can be LOTS shorter) of lift 2 and up.

Avoid: Chair 4 from mid-vail. Always crowded. Chair 11 can get crowded. Check the status boards for the back bowl lift and game creek bowl lifts before going into each as they can fill up and there is only one chair in each bowl.

Ski & Snowboard Equipment Rental Vail resort has a huge range of ski and snowboard rental options. Vail's village is spread over a huge area from Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak, so it is best to source your ski or snowboard rental close to your hotel or even better close to the lifts.

Located at the base of the ski slopes, Pirate Ship Park has delighted generations of children in Vail.

Here are just a few of the many ski rental stores found in Vail.

You can also book your Vail ski or snowboard rental online before you leave possibly saving you time in the rental store and even some money as most offer discounts for pre-booking. Here are the main ski rentals stores that offer online booking service;

Child Care Vail has an excellent child-care center for all ages of kids. For babies to toddlers, the nursery provides great, on mountain, care. As young as 3 years old the Ski School can really teach your kids to ski and give them a fun day too (and free you up to ski with your spouse). All this does not come cheap, but you get a good quality product and don't have to worry about your kids.

One note: book early (like a month before you get there) for the nursery. They do fill up.

Ride the Gondola The Gondola is free for foot traffic after 2PM. Before 2PM the ticket price is $24 for adults (2009). It is a good way to get the non-skiers and the kids up to the top.

Adventure Ridge A fun place to bring kids or friends who don't like to ski! Activities include: ski-biking, kid's snowmobile track and tubing.

Vail Snowmobiling Tours & Rentals Take a guided snowmobiling tour in Vail's Backcountry or set out atop Vail Pass on an unguided snowmobile rental.


Condos and shops in Lionshead. Designers work hard to maintain a European aesthetic to the resort

Mountain Bike In the off season, Mountain Bike rentals and lift tickets are available for a reasonable cost. Ride the lift up to the top and bike your way down, taking in thrills, scenery, and encounters with wildlife. Trails are rated by difficulty and are well-maintained. It is certainly easy and fun to ride the gondola up and ride the bike down.

Gondola Ride As of summer of 2005 it was $17 to ride the Gondola to the top of the mountain. At the top there is an outside bar with the worlds greatest view, and a pretty pricey grill (check times). You can get a $15 discount at the grill with a $5 coupon. The burger is excellent.

Hint: If you want a work out and want to save the $17 walk up to the top. The Gondola is always a free ride down! The hike will take you about 1-2 hours (depending on fitness). Take the Berry Picker trail from Lionshead. Piney Lake A gorgeous view awaits you if you brave the 12 mile dirt road up to the Piney Lake. You can also grab some grub or rent a boat at the Piney River Ranch.


Vail is a great location to plan some rafting adventures. The Eagle River runs through the Vail Valley -- it offers outstanding rafting during its short season (typically May & June, sometimes into July). The Colorado River is just downvalley and offers ample opportunity, especially during summer months, because it has such a reliable water source. The stretch above and through Glenwood Springs is a favorite hot-weather summer family ride. The Arkansas River is about an hour away, and offers several famous whitewater stretches as well.

In the Vail Valley

Summer horseback riding at Piney River Ranch.

Out of Valley:


The Vail Valley has half a dozen nice golf courses.

Eagle Ranch Golf Course. Eagle Ranch Golf Course is an Arnold Palmer Signature Design. The course plays through the Brush Creek Valley and offers panoramic views of the Colorado Rockies on every hole.

Cotton Ranch Golf Club. Cotton Ranch is a golf community that welcomes the public. There is a restaurant that serves lunch every day and dinner nightly.

Vail Golf Club, Located in East Vail

Eagle-Vail Golf Course

Beaver Creek Golf Course

Arrowhead Golf Course

Singletree Golf Course

Disc Golf

The Vail Valley has several disc golf courses.

Adventure Ridge. Course begins just below west side of the Eagle's Nest. Front nine are shorter and more open while back nine are much more rugged, play through the woods and feature some intense elevation changes.

Dude Ranches

The Vail area has many places to ride a horse.

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch. Week long all inclusive vacations living on a full service Texas Longhorn cattle ranch north of Vail.


Vail has all your typical resort shops. The one thing that is uniquely Vail is The Golden Bear, a jewelry store known for its line of jewelry featuring a (duh) Golden Bear.



There are also many options to eat in both Vail Village and Lionshead. Another good idea is to stop in at a place like The French Deli in Lionshead, order a sandwich to go and pack it up for lunch.



Near Vail

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the town of Vail (well sort of, you'll still have to wait but at least you see something a little more local) then try some of these spots:








Go next

Routes through Vail

Grand Junction Eagle  W  E  Copper Mountain Denver

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