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Why You Should Ski Vail in Early Season

What is “early season” in Vail, Colorado, you ask? It’s that delightful period from Vail Mountain’s opening day in November, right through to the start of the holiday season. Here’s the reasons why we love an early ski season and know that you will, too.

Come Visit Vail in November & December

Three skiers move quickly down newly groomed corduroy — that means snow that's been groomed by snowcats — at Vail Mountain. They are racing down the ski run, making perfect pole plants.

Vail Mountain Opens Nov. 10 for the 2023–24 Winter Season

Vail Mountain is like nowhere else on earth — it’s built on the pioneering spirit embodied by its founders, and it recently celebrated its 60th birthday. At Vail, there’s a feeling skiers and snowboarders only get by visiting the fabled resort and its seven Legendary Back Bowls, so there’s no time like the present to plan an early-season trip.

You’ll Enjoy More of Vail Mountain to Yourself

Many people don’t even consider taking a ski trip until holiday time or after, which means that from mid-November to about the third week of December, you’ll find shorter lift lines and more space on your favorite trails to spread out.

Vail Mountain’s terrain offerings vary depending on natural snowfall, but — with the help of Vail’s highly efficient and effective snowmaking operations — it’s common to experience more than 1,000 acres of terrain opening weekend and additional lifts and runs opening in quick succession thereafter.

When snowmaking and Mother Nature cooperate, you’ll find runs open at MidVail (Chairs 3 and 4) and off the Avanti Lift, not just on the lower sections of the mountain. By mid-December, you can usually ski the vast majority of the Front Side with more than 3,000 acres at your Vail ski tips.

If all things align, we’ve even seen a Back Bowl or two open at this time of year, too. No promises, but we always keep our fingers crossed! Be sure to check back often for snow reports and terrain-opening announcements.

Vail Events for 2023’s Early Ski Season

A group of friends enjoys après-ski happy hour. They sit together smiling at an outdoor table in Vail, CO.

There’s always something happening in Vail no matter the time of year, and from the high-energy fun of opening day to the daily après scene, you are sure to find yourself a good time. Early-season festivities are an extra special celebration to kick-off the season, including Vail Mountain’s opening, Revely Vail from mid-November to mid-December, and both the Vail Kris Kringle Market and Vail Film Festival happening in early December. And don’t forget about the favorite Vail Holidays through the holidays season, ending with fireworks on New Years Eve. See the full Vail events calendar for dates.

When your day of adventure is done, explore Vail’s vibrant après-ski scene: You can join in on the second awakening of our quaint alpine villages as bells ring to signify the start of Vail’s après-ski time. Find your new favorite après-ski bars and decks.

Vail Hotel Deals

Fewer people in town means great deals on lodging — that includes the best of Vail hotels, condos and vacation rentals. Search properties and book direct for amazing early-season rates. Visiting Vail in November to mid-December is the perfect time to experience incredible properties at a fraction of holiday and peak-season rates. Check out Vail’s ski-in, ski-out hotels and those nearby with ski valet.

The Vail Villages Experience

The Vail Villate at night sparkles with lights and visitors stroll the streets.

Early season may mean the pace is slower, but Vail Village and Lionshead are as vibrant as ever. Shops and restaurants are open, Christmas decorations are being put in place and the general excitement that the winter season is here is infectious.

Early winter season is also a great time to enjoy Vail’s world-class restaurants, often last minute and without reservations. While Vail’s world-class restaurants can book up well in advance at the height of the season, early season means you may be able to call your favorite restaurant the day of — or even simply stroll around to find a table (we do always recommend making reservations just to be sure). If you’re lucky, there might even be an early-season special to take advantage off. Lucky you!

The same goes for spas this time of year. We understand that your legs and stamina may not be up for skiing every day, so it’s the perfect time to take a break and recharge with an unforgettable spa treatment. Vail is home to many full-service spas and day spas that’ll give you exactly what your body needs to recover and get out on the mountain for more. We encourage booking treatments in advance, but this time of year you may be able to book a treatment or two the day of. Plus, there may be early season spa specials as a bonus.

Get Your Legs Under You & Test Out Your Equipment

With wide-open slopes and great lodging deals, why not spend a few days at Vail in November and December. You can work on building up your ski or snowboard legs for your next visit. If you’re planning to be on the mountain four or more days this season, one of our Epic Pass products might be right for you. If you only plan to get out there a few days this season, just be sure to buy online in advance to get the best deal.

It’s probably been at least a year since you thought about putting your feet in ski boots, pulling on the snow pants, gloves, helmet and everything else that goes into your ski and snowboard gear. So, why not test everything out early season to make sure it still fits, is tuned up and all working properly? Gear advances happen each season and maybe this is your season to invest in new equipment. Check out the latest gear at the many outdoor retailer outlets throughout Vail.

Come Visit Us in Vail This November and December

There you have it — you know the many reasons to come to Vail during early winter. But, if the timing doesn’t work for you, don’t worry.  Anytime is a great time to be in Vail! What’s your favorite time to visit?

More Ideas for Visiting Vail During Early Season:

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