10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Vail

1.  The original name for Vail Mountain was Shining Mountain…. sounded kind of icy for a ski resort, so it was eventually renamed.

2.  Vail got it’s name from the man responsible for bringing the highway through the area, Charlie Vail:

Charles-Vail 10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Vail

3.  The Town of Vail was not incorporated until 4 years after the resort began operating

4.  The Vail area was mostly cabbage farms before the development of the resort.

Charles-Vail 10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Vail

5.  The landmark clock tower in Vail village was actually an apartment for awhile. The clock quit working for several years… later it was discovered that someone had stuck some chewed gum in one of the gears. When it was removed, the clock started working again.

Charles-Vail 10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Vail

6.  Vail had the very first gondola in the US.

Charles-Vail 10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Vail

7.  Vail boasts 5,289 ski-able acres (21.40 square kilometers), which is nearly double the size of the town itself (12 square kilometers).

8.  The Median income in Vail is only about $33,000 or $2,750 a month; while average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is $2,340.

9.  In Vail, it’s illegal to hit obstacles while on skis or a snowboard making most accidents a crime!

10.  Vail is home to the highest botanical gardens in the world! The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is located at 8,250 feet above sea level. The gardens host over 3,000 species of high-altitude plants.

Charles-Vail 10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Vail

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Visiting Vail on a Budget

Traveling on a budget is never easy.  The most realistic way to make budget travel work is to pick an affordable destination.  Perhaps it’s a small town off the beaten track, or its a city known for it’s low cost of living, or for international travelers it’s a country whose economy isn’t doing too hot.  Vail Colorado is none of those things.  Known for luxury, grandeur, lavishness, & extravagance; Vail is definitely not a discount destination.  While this may be, it does not mean you should write off the stunning ski village just because you can’t afford the $300 Ribeye at Flame (& yes, that’s a real thing…).  Take it from me as somebody who is currently spending my second season living in Vail on a seasonal worker’s salary. This place is spectacular regardless of income level. Visiting Vail on a budget is not incredibly easy, but it’s certainly possible.  Here’s how:

Pick Your Accommodation Wisely

Always check Airbnb although in this area it doesn’t always have the best deals. The Vail Valley is currently experiencing a housing crisis pushing prices up across the board.  Most “affordable” options are going to be rented out to seasonal workers & locals.  Leaving the higher end vacation properties as the only options listed on Airbnb.  These can end up being a good deal if you have a large group to fill a multi-bedroom house & split the cost.

Consider Minturn or Avon the next two towns over from Vail.  Currently I am living in Minturn & absolutely love this small mountain town. Personally I think it has more character than Vail.  Unfortunately it doesn’t have too many accommodation options.  Avon on the other hand has quite a bit of options but isn’t particularly budget friendly either as it is home to Beaver Creek & Arrowhead. 2 more high-end ski areas. Both towns have transportation to Vail via the Eco Bus which runs $4 each way.

Honestly, finding an affordable place to stay in Vail is going to be the hardest part of visiting Vail on a budget.  Unfortunately there is very little insider information that I can provide that will significantly help you in this aspect.  My largest piece of advice (as mentioned later) is to avoid the holiday periods including spring break.

Eat Where the Locals Eat

Avoid on-mountain dining like the plague.  These restaurants are owned by Vail Resorts & are happy to charge you for the convenience they offer. To put it in context, while working as a ski instructor at Vail I was privy to 50% off at these restaurants.  I still didn’t eat there…

Frankly as a local in Vail I did not eat out much.  Opting instead for homemade meals (think eggs, ramen, soup, tuna & rice).  When hitting the mountain I primarily went with lunch & snacks in my jacket pockets.  This is a win-win in my opinion as it saved me money, plus I never had to waste precious ski time stopping for lunch, eating my pocket meal on the chairlift instead.  If you are considering this option check out the City Market in West Vail (with free daytime parking on the free in-town bus route on the street right in front of the store). Plus, as a new addition to the area for the 18/19 season the Vail Market in Lionshead Village has surprisingly great prices.  Don’t waste your time with the Lionshead General Store though.

Throughout last season I did make it a point to try out some of the more affordable options at-least once, largely for the purpose of being able to make informed recommendations.  Also, Vail is fairly renowned for it’s culinary scene & I think it’s important to treat yourself every now & again (Even if I never dropped a paycheck on a steak).

636324562238014099-treatyoself-main01 Visiting Vail on a Budget

In Lionshead I would recommend:

The Little Diner – Breakfast classics from morning to afternoon, plus hearty lunches in snug digs with counter dining.

Moe’s Barbecue – Easygoing chain serving Alabama-style pulled pork & other meats smoked in-house.

Bart & Yeti’s – Longtime institution lures locals with a rustic feel, an outdoor deck & traditional pub grub.

Garfinkel’s – Popular sports pub offering American grub, a wraparound bar & large deck with mountain views.

In Vail Village:

Loaded Joe’s – Cozy, casual venue with coffee & sandwiches during the day & beer, wine & music at night.

Blü Cow Café –  A fun modern European style cafe serving the cultish Swiss Hot Dog, Ernst’s famous soup, Elk Brats, paninis, and other unique foods, handcrafted cocktails, European and local beers.

La Cantina – Authentic Mexican food, large servings affordable prices.

In West Vail:

Westside Cafe – Cozy spot for down-home cooking from breakfast to dinner, plus cocktails like a popular Bloody Mary.

Vail Ale House – Sports bar feel with over 20 craft beers on tap.

West Vail also is home to a Mcdonald’s, Subway, Qdoba, & Yellowbelly.

Know Thy Happy Hour Specials

636324562238014099-treatyoself-main01 Visiting Vail on a Budget

Don’t Buy Your Lift Ticket at the Window

In fact don’t buy a lift ticket at all.  Full price lift tickets are the biggest mistake any Vail skier can make costing about $200 a day.  On the other hand the Epic Pass is a surprisingly fair deal.  Paying for itself in about 5 days of skiing plus you get access to many other mountains throughout Colorado & the world.  My advice is to pick up an Epic Pass as early as possible to score early bird pricing & rack up as many days on mountain as possible.  While technically it is not allowed I have seen Epic Passes resold for a good chunk of change as well.

If you do opt to purchase lift tickets instead of a pass, be aware there are many ways to find discounts.  Liftopia for instance generally has discounts for non-peak periods.  With your best bet being to purchase in advance.

Rent Gear Elsewhere

Ok, so to be honest I personally have no experience with gear rentals.  I purchased my equipment before coming to Vail for my first season.  Just to brag for a quick second I would like to note that I got my skis off Ebay used for only $60 including shipping.  I also picked up my boots & poles at an off-season sale from a small ski shop near my hometown.  All together I probably spent less on my gear then a week long rental costs.  Which brings me to my first point.

If you are a frequent skier, even just a couple days a year, consider the benefits of purchasing versus renting.  I’m definitely not suggesting you walk into a shop in Vail & pick up some brand new gear.  I’m just saying that rental gear can be an overpriced, uncomfortable, hassle that those who own don’t have to deal with.  If you are looking for gear be sure to check out our Guide for Finding Heavily Discounted Ski Gear.

If you are going to rent, however, it is probably not wise to do it in Vail.  From everything I have heard from friends & read online there are much better options.  If coming from Denver stop by a shop over there or one of the ones along I-70 on the way out to save a fair amount.

Definitely Avoid the Holidays

Christmas in Vail is a no-no for those looking for an affordable vacation.  For reference, when searching for housing this season I found a 4 bedroom rental listed at $5,000 a month. Thinking it sounded reasonable (especially considering how many seasonal workers could cram into that much space) I clicked on the listing.  As it turned out the property had different prices for different months with the price spiking to $50,000 in the month of December!  The sad part is they will probably get that much… or more through short term renting.  Without getting on my soapbox I will simply once again reference the Vail Valley housing crisis mentioned earlier.

Outside of Christmas & New Years another peak time to avoid is the spring break period in March.  The kids are out of school, the weather is mild, & families are flocking to Vail like crazy.

While I am not personally aware of the affects this has on prices the Burton U.S. Open is a very large event held in Vail annually.  Sure,  it’s an exciting time to be in Vail with concerts, parties, & the events themselves going on; but, I doubt it is a great time to try visiting Vail on a budget.

Consider the Mud-Season

The mud-season (off-season in spring following the mountains closure) is without a doubt the most affordable time to visit Vail.  Unfortunately, there is no skiing to be had during the mud-season.  If you are looking for a ski vacation this piece of advice is not for you.  Vail has quite a bit more to offer than just skiing though, so if you are a little more indifferent to this aspect of Vail than mud-season might just be ideal for you.  Due to the decreased demand hotel’s prices drop.  Many restaurants also offer off-season menus with more affordable options. Plus, if you enjoy shopping most stores offer end of season sales, especially on ski gear.  Mud-season is perfect for those looking to enjoy the impeccable Vail architecture & renown culinary scene at a discount.

Don’t Fly Into Eagle Airport

If your travel plans include flying to Colorado you should choose to fly into Denver not Eagle.  While the Eagle airport is a little more convenient for getting to Vail it comes with a hefty price hike.  Shuttles run from Denver International to Vail regularly & cost about $60.  Compare this to the several hundred you will be charged to fly into Eagle & the choice is a no-brainer.

Top Winter Festivals for Skiers & Snowboarders

Sometimes even a snow sports vacation can seem routine: wake up, hit the slopes, après, sleep, repeat. Not bad. But an increasing number of resorts are hosting winter festivals to give your winter break a turbo boost.

Most center on live music and competitions – from pro and amateur events to things that are patently ridiculous (and fun!) – and all generate an elevated tier of partying in and around the resort. Some include family-friendly activities as well.

Snowbombing | Mayrhofen, Austria

DJs, bands and wild venues – from an igloo and an open forest stage to a theme-dress street party and traditional club stage – conspire to bring a raucous time to Mayrhofen each April. The town offers a stunning alpine setting in the Ziller Valley, in Austria’s Tyrol region, surrounded by nine other world-class resorts.

Past headliners have included Liam Gallagher, Dizzee Rascal, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers and Groove Armada.

World Ski and Snowboard Festival | Whistler, B.C.

Finally, a distinct advantage to Whistler’s low-elevation base area: warm temps for outdoor concerts that happen all season long, but really kick off each April! This spring blowout features killer bands, DJs and solo artists, along with filmmaking, photography and fashion showcases.

The outdoor shows are free, as are a variety of sporting events that range from extreme ski racing through a couloir to a big-air competition. The rollicking times include contests to display the best action photos and short films, as well as Intersection, in which film crews have a week to shoot, edit and produce an extreme five- to seven-minute sports short film.

SnowFest! | North Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A Tahoe annual spring event since 1982, SnowFest returns each March with a torchlight parade, fireworks, eating competitions, polar bear swims and other delightfully quirky events in the heart of one of America’s most bountiful ski regions.  Participating resorts include Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Diamond Peak and Northstar California.

Other events include a four-to-a-team banzai ski race, fashion show and ice carving competition. And as a bonus, you can hit Squaw Valley in mid-March for Pain McShlonkey, a crazed event  in honor of Squaw legend Shane McConkey, with lots of costumed skiers racing on snow blades.

Rendezvous Festival | Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The extreme athletes who make up a disproportionate percentage of Jackson’s populace bring the same energy to their extracurricular activities that they bring to the slopes. The event stretches four days in mid-March, with spectacles at both the mountain base and the nearby town of Jackson.

Concerts abound, including top Grammy winners like Portugal. The Man.

Big Sky Big Grass | Big Sky, Mont.

The Big Sky Big Grass Festival, held each February, is one of the largest winter bluegrass festivals in the northern Rockies. Past performers include the Sam Bush Band, Infamous Stringdusters, Drew Emmitt Band, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, Billy Strings and Trout Steak Revival – among many, many others.

Big Sky has huge terrain, beautiful Montana scenery and rarely a lift line.

Sundance Film Festival | Park City, Utah

Sundance has become one of the world’s premier king-making film festivals. Screenings, which take place each year in late January, fill numerous categories and include a number of world premieres as filmmakers put the results of their creativity and hard work on display.

Park City, already a first-rate ski town, transforms into a glitter-strewn row of velvet-roped venues, late night parties, live music and, yes, serious crowds, though the slopes themselves are often quite empty.

Winter Carnival | Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The oldest, continuous winter carnival west of the Mississippi River, first held in 1913, Steamboat’s annual fete gets the whole town involved every February. The Steamboat Springs High School marching band performs while skiing down Main Street, and horses pull other kids along on skis.

Parties abound, including concerts, jam sessions and a giant lighted man, but most of the fun centers around sports, including a bicycle slalom race and parent-child downhill.

Ullr Nights | Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Unlike most events, which typically stretch a handful of dates, Snomass’ Ullr Nights happen every night during the peak winter season. Held in honor of the Norse God of Snow (Ullr), the event takes place at the resort’s Elk Camp.

It includes legions of family-friendly activities, including tubing, riding the alpine coaster, making s’mores, drinking hot chocolate and dancing to live music.

Nor’Beaster | Killington, Vt.

Drop any image you might have of placid Vermont hippies. Killington tees off with core East Coast energy, like throwing a multi-week festival from April to May. The event showcases a Bud Light mogul challenge, a bank slalom competition for snowboarders, oodles of live music and events for all ages.

Local breweries also host more parties than should be allowed, and the resort organizes events focused on benefiting local charities.

Chamonix Unlimited | Chamonix, France

A collision of music, arts, spring fever and European joie de vivre turn this legendary French Alps village into an exhibition of youthful exuberance in late March/early April. Past events have included some of Europe’s hottest DJs and emerging bands, along with local talent.

And don’t worry if it’s warm in the valley; one of Europe’s most idyllic settings also harbors 113 trails and more inbound acreage than you can see in three visits.

Snow Boarding Destinations

Now let me tell you about some of the greatest places that there are to snow board in the world. I really mean I am going to tell you about the places, that if you are a snow boarder you simply must visit if you want to have experienced the greatest snow boarding that is out there.

Solden in Austria

This amazing resort is about 50 miles away from Innsbruck and a further 20 miles away from Otztal. This amazing place has three killer slopes that have three of the speediest lifts in the world that also have some of the best views that I have ever seen. At least one night in the week the slopes open up to give you a chance to go night boarding in style. There is also a firework display and everything else that you can imagine to make the night a success, you can actually go for a drink in between runs and really enjoy all the aspects of snow boarding whilst drinking at the same time. If you have never been night boarding before this is something that you have to check out.

St Anton in Austria

St Anton has some of the best terrain that I have ever seen and that is one of the reasons that I think this place is up here in the best snow boarding destinations. If you like to free style then this is undoubtedly the place to be doing it. The slopes are not very forgiving and unless you like high speed, high octane fun then you should probably go elsewhere. The slope has amazing amounts of powder and really helps and boarder to accelerate a lot faster than they are used to.

Tignes in France

Tignes is without a doubt the place to go if you want to go snowboarding in France. Tignes was one of the first locations to actually welcome snowboarders whilst other felt that skiing was the only thing that you can do on the slopes. But let me tell you one thing ladies and gentleman. This place is also the top place to learn your trade, with a wide range of training courses for those that want to teach snow boarding for a living. If you are looking for tree runs then this is not the place to hang, but it certainly has a lot of excellent runs that you simply must try.

XCAPE BUILDING SNOWZONE in the UK

This is the best in indoor entertainment that is out their. If you think playing your play station is indoor entertainment then you really have another thing coming folks. You only pay an hourly fee for the time you spend on the slopes and that even includes boot hire and hiring of a board. The fact is that this is such as enclosed area, and there are instructors all over the place watching what you do. When I went I got a lot of helpful feedback from instructors and at their own free will. A very good place to learn.

LAAX in Switzerland

LAAX in Switzerland

This my friends is snow boarding heaven and a must, see and do for everyone. This place is home to some of the biggest snow boarding events in the world, and you never see a pro turn down an opportunity to strut his stuff on these challenging slopes. When an event happens here it really is seen as being cool, as well as whatever else. The top DJs, singers and pop stars all want to come along to associate themselves with whatever is going on. This place has half-pipes galore for those who would rather flip than anything else. The ski lift is also good and for many beginners this is the most enjoyable part of their visit. You will find some challenging slopes as well as other slopes that are tailored for beginners.

Snowmobile Vacationing in Aspen

Aspen, Colorado is widely famous for their abundance of snowy weather and opportunities to explore winter sports excitement. Skiing has typically been the activity of choice in Aspen, but the recent popularity of snowboarding and snowmobiling has brought many other visitors and regular vacationers to the many resorts and hotels in the city. The mountains provide snowmobilers a thrilling and exciting chance to enjoy the terrain according to their varied riding abilities. From first-time users to expert riders, there are trails and customized options to fit the need of every vacationer so there is no reason to be intimidated by the snowy hills Aspen.

The Snowmass Village in Aspen, Colorado is a premier resort for winter vacationers who thoroughly enjoy experiencing the great outdoors during the frigid and snowy winter months. At an elevation of 8,000 feet, winter lovers will be sure to enjoy the many snowmobiling opportunities that are available to them. Guided tours are a great way to experience the wonderful nature that the Aspen landscape has to offer. Guides at the resorts are experienced and friendly so they are dedicated to make your snowmobiling adventure a pleasurable and exciting time.

For other exciting experiences, snowmobilers can choose other ways to experience the Aspen area. There are tours through popular ghost towns that snowmobilers might enjoy so they can add a cultural and educational aspect to their snowmobiling vacation. The tours of the Independence town are ideal for even first-time snowmobilers. Just a few miles south of Aspen, vacationers have easy access to this unique opportunity that offers riders transportation and snowmobile equipment at no extra cost combined with a delicious lunch along the way. Special packages are available to fit the needs of families, couples or singles who want to enjoy touring an actual ghost town with their snowmobiles.

Other snowmobile tours will take vacationers through the beautiful scenery of the forest and other natural scenery of the Aspen area. The Klondike Lunch Tour, for instance, takes riders through the gorgeous White River National Forest during the winter months when it is blanketed in a white sheet of fresh snow. Vacationers can choose to stay at the popular Klondike lodging facility that provides guests with spectacular views of the snow-covered Pyramid Peak directly outside of their window. Customized packages are available to suit the needs of any guest who wants to travel as a group or individually. Similarly, the Maroon Bells Tour gives snowmobilers amazing views one of the most picturesque mountain ranges in North America – the Maroon Bells. Even first-time riders can take advantage of these tours that last for a few hours to give vacationers ample opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking Aspen winter landscape.

Snowmobilers who wish to fully appreciate the opportunities afforded to them by Aspen winter vacation resorts should be certain to take notes of their particular resort’s requirements when planning their vacation. Most places, for instance, require snowmobile riders to be at least 18 years old in order to operate a snowmobile. For rented equipment, it is important to know that some resorts do not offer insurance to users, so great care and precaution is required if your vacation plans involve renting a snowmobile from a resort where this is the case. Packing warm clothing and gear is essential for enjoying the winter weather, too. Some resorts offer equipment rental, such as boots and snowmobile suits, but brining your own guarantees that you will always have these snowmobiling basics at all times.

Guidelines and regulations are important so that guests and vacationers can all enjoy the various opportunities that Aspen resorts offer. Wintertime is a great way to bring families together or to experience the thrill and excitement of snowmobiling and other winter sports with friends or a loved one. With a variety of available and unique guided tours along scenic trails and radiant mountains, snowmobilers are sure to have the time of their life by planning their winter vacations at one of the luxurious and friendly Aspen resorts.

Popular Alpine Skiing Destinations in Colorado

Colorado’s Greatest Skiing Destinations
Any ski aficionado is familiar with the legendary ski hills in Colorado that draws celebrities to their snowy peaks each winter. Much of Colorado is situated in the Rocky Mountains, giving perfect ski conditions each year. If you are planning a trip to Colorado for a little skiing or snowboarding you have plenty of mountains to choose from.
Aspen is one of the most popular ski resorts in Colorado. Once a mining town, Aspen is now one of the hottest destinations in the USA. Aspen has a lot of Snowy hills, challenging and varying terrain. Apart from this, what attracts so many well-to-do people and famous celebrities to the beautiful setting each year is the large number of spas, resorts, and fabulous dining places and the ski hill. The rates are high and an adult pass for the day is available for $74.
Vail is another popular ski resort and constantly ranked as number one in many ski magazines. With 193 trails covering 5,289 acres, Vail is the largest ski resort in the USA. The snow condition, terrain and number of challenging runs are top of the line. The great shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, makes the town of Vail as a popular destination for skiers. Vail provides great lessons for skiers and snowboarders.
Copper Mountain Resort is a local favorite in Colorado. Head to this beautiful resort for a day of skiing and you’ll know why. No small potatoes, Copper Mountain has an impressive 125 trails and 22 lifts to get you around. The trail system developed here has won awards and takes advantage of everything this mountain has to offer. Slightly less expensive then Aspen or Vail, you won’t notice that the trails are any less exciting.
Powderhorn Resort is a slightly smaller mountain with great value for day passes. With 29 runs, it offers beginning and intermediate skiers plenty of challenges. If you’d rather not ski a challenging run, there are several easy runs which provide a relaxing day meandering down the slopes. Not only is the skiing world class, but the Powderhorn Resort accommodations and restaurants are quite enjoyable.
For skiers that look for an opportunity to ski all day and into the night, Keystone resort is the perfect place. Keystone offers the largest and best night skiing area in Colorado, in fact in all of North America! Keystone Resort is composed of three great mountains, which means there are plenty of great terrain and diverse trails, 116 of them in all. Keystone also provides many options besides skiing, including an exciting nightlife, fantastic restaurants, and great specials for those guests of the resort.
Even if you don’t have too much of money, you can still enjoy world class skiing and accommodation. Some of these huge resorts are offering great deals to make good the dream of spending the week at one of these places. In Colorado, new resorts are being built, and upgrades are making the old ones more fabulous than before. That is way Colorado is known as the home of best Ski resorts in North America.