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5 Reasons to Plan Your Snowboarding Trip to Vail Mountain

If you’ve ever wanted to snowboard at a Colorado ski resort, make Vail Mountain the top of your bucket list.  The ski resort first welcomed snowboarders in the late 1980s, when the renegade sport was going mainstream — and they never looked back. Now, powder enthusiasts of all stripes carve through Vail’s snowy terrain year after year. Discover why Vail is a top snowboarding resort in Colorado and get insider tips for an epic winter trip.

A section of Vail Mountain is covered with a thick blanket of snow. Thin, serpentine trails through the powder shows signs of skiing and snowboarding activity.

1. Space to Explore

Clocking in at 5,317 acres, Vail is the largest ski and snowboarding resort in the state, and the third largest in North America. With so much space to explore, there is always a new corner to uncover. Intermediate to advanced snowboarders should try Riva Ridge — the longest continuous run at the resort — where you can carve back and forth for 4 whole miles. Vail is also famous for featuring some of the best-groomed trails in Colorado. So, if you like cruising corduroy, head to beautifully maintained spots like Ouzo, which features tons of wide-open trees, thrill-filled pitches and some secret stashes of powder.

 2. Plenty of Powder

Speaking of powder, you just might find some when you visit. Vail Mountains’ elevation reaches 11,570 feet. Those high-altitude temps, combined with Colorado’s dry climate, makes for super light and airy powder for snowboarding. And with an average snowfall of 354 inches, there’s plenty of the fluffy stuff to go around. It takes a bit of time to get back to Blue Sky Basin, but it’s worth the trek to float across the pillowy, untracked snow that accumulates there.

A snowboarder wearing a winter jacket, helmet and goggles, skillfully makes their way down the snowy Vail Mountain slope leaving a layer of snow-dust in the air.

3. Terrain Parks

If you’re looking to perfect your jumps and tricks, Vail’s terrain parks are some of the best in the country.

In fact, they’re often training grounds for local winter athletes and Olympians. If you’re just dipping your toes into the freestyle world, start with Avanti Park. Here, beginners can comfortably hone their skills on smaller obstacles.

When you’re ready to take it up a notch, head over to Bwana Park. The intermediate-level park’s larger leaps provide the ideal terrain for riders looking to progress. For the seasoned snowboarders and thrill-seeking competitors, Golden Peak awaits. As Vail’s largest terrain park, it boasts a diverse selection of features ranging from intermediate to challenging with an array of pro-style rails, pipes, boxes, jibs, jumps and hills.

4. Legendary Back Bowls

The same year snowboarders arrived at Vail Mountain, several of the Legendary Back Bowls opened, including the China, Tea Cup, Siberia and Magnolia bowls. These mountain playgrounds, which now add up to seven in total, are fresh-powder favorites among skiers and snowboarders. Experienced skiers and riders who are new to this terrain should start out with the China Bowl on the well-groomed East and West Poppyfields. The iconic runs are a lighter intro and offer some seriously stunning snow-capped views of Blue Sky Basin and Mount of the Holy Cross.

Four people dressed in long-sleeves sit outside on a deck in the sun and enjoy around of drinks and bites at a Vail restaurant in Colorado.

5. Après for Days

Typically referred to as “après ski,” snowboarders will love Vail’s post-shred drink and bite options. Snag a pint and learn some mountain-town history at locals’ favorite Pepi’s Restaurant and Bar, owned by the late Austrian National Ski Team champion and Vail legend, Pepi Gramshammer and continued through his wife and daughters. For a casual sports-bar vibe, Garfinkel’s is the place to go. Grab a seat at the bar, order a burger and have some fun with friends right at the base of the mountain.

If you’re looking for a more elegant après-ski evening, reserve a private gondola at Alpenrose. Sip on Bavarian wines and pilsners and gaze at the snowy summits as you dip crusty bread in a big pot of melty cheese. Or treat yourself to a craft cocktail at a tucked-away bar with speakeasy vibes, Bad Kitty Lounge, to sip at an old fashioned with fine local whiskey. In the mood for some music? Head over to the Vail Chophouse to listen to tunes by local musician Phil Long.

Tips for Your Vail Snowboarding Trip

  • Layer Up: Remember to come prepared with lots of layers so you’re ready for the high-altitude chill (especially early in the day) — and, if you get too hot, you can always shed some, too. How it really feels outside and what the thermometer reads can be a bit surprising; it all depends on time of day and whether it’s sunny, cloudy or stormy.
  • Ditch Your Car: If you’re coming from Denver, hop on a Bustang bus for a more earth-friendly transportation option. And when you arrive, get to and from the mountain on the free local buses within Vail.
  • Take a Lesson: New to the sport or want to level up? Schedule a lesson with a Vail snowboarding instructor.
  • Avoid the Lines: Miss the early morning crowds by arriving after lunchtime. By then, especially on a bluebird day, the snow will be nice and soft.
  • Stay Awhile: For the ultimate ski-trip experience, book a night at a local lodge. You can even reserve a spot at a ski-in, ski-out hotel for ultimate access to the slopes.

Discover More Winter Trip Inspiration

Looking for even more things to do in Vail when the snow starts falling? Check out these resources: