But of course, skiing is still king in Vail. This year, the wonderful folks at Vail Resorts introduced the new EpicMix online and mobile application that allows skiers with a Peaks card to track their individual runs and total vertical over the course of the day to earn badges and share information with friends on facebook. Perhaps the best feature is a mobile application that lets your facebook friends know when you are on the mountain – unless of course, you’re hoping to be incognito on this particular trip. I found it entertaining to check my ski day stats each evening.
It was also nice to start my ski trip early with Vail’s Fly-In, Ski Free program. Bring an ID and your airline boarding pass to the ticket office on the day that you arrive and you get a free lift ticket for the rest of that day. A lot of big ski mountains actually have this feature, but it seems that it’s only publicized through word of mouth.
And lastly, no ski trip to Vail is complete for expert skiers without doing the famed Minturn Mile. Ski down Vail’s backside from the top of Game Creek Bowl Chairlift and arrive in the small mining town of Minturn. The run is long with a nice consistent pitch and variable conditions; ski it for the first time with someone who has done it before. The outrun at the end can be a bit of a slog if there’s not enough snow to ski down the road, but the payoff is well worth it. Arrive at the legendary Minturn Saloon at 3:30 when its doors open and be transported into the Western Frontier with a nice cold beer to finish the day. Make sure you have a ride home or call a cab for the short ride back to Vail.
Vail might not match the scenic grandeur of Jackson Hole, Big Sky or Telluride and it can be a bit crowded during peak periods – but its wide range of outdoor activities offer something for everybody during any season.