A sunny spring day on Vail Mountain is the perfect time to explore its many decks for a picnic and to soak in some vitamin D. Not sure where to go? The ski resort has the perfect spot, depending on where you’re skiing or riding and whether you’re looking to tote your own goodies or go for a deck with full-service food and beverage options.
No matter what deck you choose, we do ask that you please pack out whatever you have packed in. Also, these decks are shared by everyone, so be respectful of other guests using them and follow the law. (The use of marijuana is still an illegal drug per federal law and Vail Mountain is on U.S. Forest Service-managed federal land.) You must be off the mountain when the lifts close (4pm in the spring). We also suggest that you ride down one of the gondolas (last download by 4:30pm), especially after drinking alcohol.
Perfect Picnic Decks on Vail Mountain
Once you have your food and beverages packed up, head to any of these on-mountain decks for a truly special lunch or all-afternoon break.
Named after a longtime-local ski instructor, Jebbie, this deck is situated under the Avanti Express Lift (#2) at the base of the Avanti run. A highly visible deck from the lift, equipped with several picnic tables, this deck gets lots of sun and exposure to everyone riding the lift above.
Tucked in the woods, just beyond the gate to Windows and to the east of Wildwood, Windows offers stunning views of Mount of the Holy Cross and Sun Down Bowl. Windows has several picnic tables and lots of privacy from the rest of the mountain’s traffic. The easiest way to access it is via Wildwood Express (Chair 3) or Sun Down Express (Chair 17) and then skiing around the front or backside of the Wildwood restaurant. With Wildwood restaurant not far away, it’s easy to access the facilities when nature calls, and grab some extra food and beverages.
It’s worth packing a picnic and venturing out to Blue Sky Basin’s Belle’s Camp on a sunny bluebird day. Equipped with lots of outdoor seating, the deck offers 360-degree views and a festive, community vibe. Bonus, if you need some water and a bathroom — all are right there! Plus, you can grill your own burgers and dogs on the spot on several available grills.
Perched atop Vail Mountain — where the MidVail Express, Northwoods Express and High Noon Express (Chairs 4, 11 and 5) meet — Hawks Deck overlooks Sun Down Bowl, with views across to Blue Sky Basin. The deck features several picnic tables, and is often a vibrantly busy meeting spot for enjoying sunshine and views. It’s ideally located for fun, with easy access to the bowls and frontside, with nearby bathrooms and food/beverages available to purchase from Buffalo’s.
Just off the Avanti Express lift (Chair 2), head west along the ridge and you’ll happen upon Steady’s Deck tucked into the trees at the top of the Pickeroon run. As the mountain’s newest deck, it tends to be less busy and more private, with incredible views of the Gore Range. The deck is a great spot to call home for the day while cruising the runs off the Avanti Express (Chair 2).
Game Creek Bowl Deck
Situated at the base of Game Creek Bowl, just above the Game Creek Express Lift (Chair 7) and the base of Ouzo, you’ll find a small deck and a nice spot for a picnic or rest stop. Sitting at the base of the bowl, it’s protected from wind and rarely occupied.
Vail Mountain Decks with Restaurants
Now, if the decks above are a little too primitive for your liking, there are several on-mountain, full-service restaurants with fantastic decks and patios to enjoy on warm spring days.
Located atop Gondola 1, at the base of the MidVail Express and Wildwood Express (Chairs 4 and 3), you’ll find ample outdoor picnic tables with views of the Gore Range and the runs of MidVail. It’s easy to grab food from the outdoor services, and the bathrooms are right there, too. On spring weekends, live music makes MidVail the place to be.
Grand views of both Mount of the Holy Cross and the Gore Range can be seen from Eagle’s Nest’s sunny deck. Atop the Eagle Bahn Gondola, this patio has easy access to food, beverages, bathrooms and a ride down the gondola at the end of the day. Bistro 14 is a full-service (waiter/waitress) restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating serving incredible views.
Buffalo’s & Henry’s/Dogtown Deck
Atop Vail Mountain — where the MidVail Express, Northwoods Express and High Noon Express (Chairs 4, 11 and 5) meet — you’ll find Buffalo’s, a quick-service restaurant with outdoor picnic tables on the snow. It’s a central spot for an outdoor lunch or late-afternoon break before heading down. Just across the snow, Henry’s Hut and Dogtown Deck feature a small deck for those who have packed their own snacks, or as another option to Buffalo’s seating.
You can smell the barbecue atop the Wildwood Express (Chair 3) from the outdoor smoker. Grab an outdoor picnic table, some delicious food and enjoy the incredible views into Sun Up Bowl and Holy Cross from Wildwood.
Located at the base of Gondola 1, the patio at Express Lift is one of the newer hot spots for a lunch break or after skiing. Grab some rays, watch the action (or “show” of skiers) coming down Pepi’s face, and grab some snacks and cold beverages amid the base-area scene.
At the base of the Avanti Express Lift (Chair 2), the Coop is a unique spot with waffles, churros and other delicious, energy-fueling snacks and beverages. Grab a table and relax at this mid-mountain spot.
At the base of the Avanti Express Lift (Chair 2), the Coop is a unique spot with waffles, churros and other delicious energy fueling snacks and beverages. Grab a table and relax at this mid-mountain spot.
There are endless options for catching spring sunshine on Vail Mountain — don’t forget to share your favorite spot with us on Instagram with the hashtag #DiscoverVail.
• Explore Vail’s winter decks & patios in town >>