Acres: 5,259 | Vertical: 3,450’ | Snowfall: 353” | vail.com
Come for the Back Bowls, stay for the frontside steeps. So swear Vail locals, who make one backside powder lap—Eagle Bahn Gondola to Game Creek Express to Ptarmigan Ridge to High Noon Express—after a big dump and then scurry to far skier’s right on the frontside to farm the steeps off Highline Express. “Vail is like an iceberg,” says Joel Gratz, meteorologist and founder of opensnow.com. “You only see a tiny piece of the mountain from the base, and most of the good stuff you have to explore to find.” Be forewarned: Vail can initiate a lemming response (“If everyone’s there, it must be sick.”), but fight it and explore on your own. This season, a high-speed quad dubbed the Sun Up Express will replace the geriatric Sun Up Lift in the Back Bowls, reducing the average ride time from 8.2 minutes to 3.9 minutes.
Can’t-Miss Run: Venture far skier’s left in the Back Bowls to hit Tea Cup and Siberia bowls, often the last to get tracked because they require more effort to reach.
Resort Bite: The views are almost as good as the food at The 10th—and that’s saying something. This newest on-mountain, sit-down restaurant brings a European touch (think: slow food and a glass of Prosecco). Reservations recommended. —Rachel Walker
From the Early Winter 2016 issue.