Although it may frighten you to hear that less than one fifth of Vail’s ski terrain is beginner-friendly, “less than one fifth” actually means a whopping 1,000 acres of beginner ski and snowboard terrain. As Colorado’s largest ski and snowboard resort, Vail has become an international destination for all levels of snow sports.
Here are our tips for the best beginner’s day at Vail:
Stay on the Front Side
The most beginner-friendly terrain can be found on the front side of the mountain. Overall the best green runs are found at the top of the mountain, above the Golden Peak area. You’ll be able to directly access easy (green) trails from nearly every lift, though, and you’ll find plenty of groomed runs to allow you to improve your confidence and technique.
Here are a few of our favorite beginner ski/snowboard runs at Vail.
You’ll find Upper Lion’s Way at the top of Gondola One in Mid-Vail. It’s considered the most accessible green run on the mountain. After skiing or snowboarding down a gentle road, you’ll find yourself on a wide open, pine-dotted slope before venturing onto a wide road through thick forests and descending easily and converging with other easy runs to the bottom.
Sourdough, Boomer, and Tin Pants
This trio of green run favorites can be found at the top of the eastern side of the resort on the front of the mountain, off of the Sourdough Express Lift. These gentle trails tend to be uncrowded and fun for the beginner skier or boarder.
This long, enjoyable flat pancake of a green run can be found to the right when exiting at the top of the Highline Express Chairlift. You’ll have plenty of space to practice your beginner skills before the run meets up with Tin Pants and continues into wide, open areas.
Another favorite long green run, this peaceful green (named after a lost but found 14-year-old Eagle Scout) takes you gracefully down the bowl ridgeline and deposits you at the base of the Game Creek Express Lift.
If, as a beginner skier or snowboarder, you’re craving more practice time on the slopes and less time waiting in line, you might want to take a break from Vail and head over to Beaver Creek for an hour or two. It’s only a 10 minute shuttle ride, and the shuttle runs every 20 minutes.
Enjoy the Vail Snowsports School
The fastest way to improve your skills and confidence as a beginner skier or snowboarder is to get some professional instruction. Any good ski or snowboard coach will be able to identify how you learn best and give you personalized feedback to accelerate your skill acquisition. The instructors at Vail Snowsports School are trained to assess your physical and emotional strengths, as well.
Vail’s ski school is known for its long history of excellence and numerous annual accolades, so anyone would be lucky to learn how to ski and snowboard through such a renowned program with an excellent staff, especially as a beginner. Not only will you get pro tips and personal feedback, you’ll also enjoy the camaraderie of learning alongside other beginners, which will make learning (and even falling!) more fun.
Vail’s First Time Skier & Rider Series
Vail offers this three day program for adult (age 16+) beginners, and it includes three consecutive days of group lessons plus lift tickets. If your enthusiasm stays high once after the beginner program, you can move on to multi-day intermediate lessons with a special, well-earned discount.
Convenient Equipment Rentals On-Mountain
One disadvantage of being a beginner is that you can’t possibly know what gear set up you’ll enjoy the most. For this reason, ski and snowboard gear rentals — which are available right on the mountain — can be the perfect way to get fitted properly for and try out gear on the slopes before you commit the cash to buy something you can’t be sure you’ll love once you’re on the snow.
Taking a Break
As a beginner, being able to take a break when you need one is highly important. With multiple mid-mountain lodges, restaurants on top of the mountain, and three separate villages (Vail Village, Lionshead, and Golden Peak) scattered across the base, you’ll be able to sit back and relax any time your brain (or your body) gets tired.
While Vail is enormous and might seem daunting to beginner skiers and snowboarders, the truth is you couldn’t choose a better mountain to visit. From the acreage to ambiance to the ample green runs, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy your time at Vail.