25 Top Spots: #6 Vail, CO

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Vail

SCORECARD
Overall Rank: #6
Snow: #10
Steeps: #18
Nightlife: #8

Nowhere in this country or any other will you find such a massive expanse of rolling corduroy, groomed-by-God bowls, and interconnected high-speed lifts. Vail often has been compared derisively to Disneyland, but Disneyland's pretty fun, you know, and Vail offers the same kind of predictable and predictably good experience. If you're not in the hunt for gut-check steeps and big-time vertical, it is, in a word, paradise.

Seven miles from end to end, Vail claims the most skiable acreage in the United States. If you can't find fun here, you aren't trying very hard. Grooming is impeccable, carving is sweet. Even locals grab grooming reports in the morning, because you never know what they'll buff out. Just be judicious in uncorking your speed; there are several well-patrolled slow-skiing zones. Experts do have options, mostly in short, steep pitches within the legendary Back Bowls and the OB East Vail Chutes. These north-facing gullies are often plagued with unstable snowpack and hidden cliff closeouts, so bomber conditions and local knowledge are key.

The Vitals

Top Elevation: 11,450 feet
Vertical Drop: 3,450 feet
Snowfall: 358 inches (11,250')
Skiable acres: 5,289
Bars: 30
Eateries: 73
Phone: 888-830-7669
Web: vail.com

Adrenaline
On a powder day, head for the Back Bowls. Follow the rolling spine between Sun Up and Sun Down bowls, then drop left into Sun Up's Apres Vous, which promises almost endless glacial facials, followed by sneaky, on-your-toes lines through aspen groves.

Accumulation
Unlike California, Colorado sees most of its storms in dribs and drabs. Eight inches is considered a dump. But it does pile up. Vail's average is nearly 360 inches a year, and it's one of the most reliable resorts in the state.

Apres
8150 has da kine music, everything from the world-class reggae of the Marleys to superstar DJs like Sasha and Digweed. The huge, bouncing dance floor and Red Bull bar will keep you up until first chair.

Local's Take
"Burn a run down Snag Park to Chair 14, then down Genghis Khan to Chair 21, followed by a traverse over to Rasputin's Revenge and Red Square. It is a tranquil place, no sounds of chair lifts or other people. And the views are incredible with Holy Cross right there."