Blue Sky Basin
High parking costs, long walk in ski boots, confusing terrain
Vail is a resort that lives up to it reputation of glitz and glamour, and for skiers, the best part is Vail's unsurpassed acreage and number of lifts to the ends of the earth and back bowls. Vail can be disappointing however. First, parking is $25.00, and there are not any way around paying the heavy parking fee without subjecting yourself to a major hassle of logistics with your ski equipment in tow. Even after paying $25.00 - the walk from this supposed close-by parking lot still involves numberous steps and a long, winding walk through the large village that involves walking, and more walking, until you finally arrive at the lifts. It is highly-recommended to wear shoes and carry your ski boots at Vail, and rent a locker and be prepared to spend several dollars (not quarters) for the locker too.
Meeting someone at Vail can be also be another exercise in logistics. With multiple parking areas, all charging $25.00 or more, visitors are not funneled into one or two areas, but several. The lift system that connects the mountain can require up to four lifts or more to get from one side to the other. Getting across the mountain is difficult, much more difficult than jumping between peaks at Breckenridge.
Like Keystone, the front side of Vail is a mess, cut up little runs that spegetti and meander around, ending in unpredictible places with blacks that turn to green to blue and back to black. Vail is an easy place to get lost, and that is even on the front side. Without a trail map, you do not have a prayer.
Vails back bowls are its saving grace, with wide China Bowl and many others to be places where intermediate skiers can work on their skills. Yet these bowls get quickly tracked out, turning powder into endless fields of crud to ski though. Going out to the furthest possible reaches of Vail will finally get you some decent skiing at Blue Sky Basin, which is the only reason that I will go back to Vail. This is a truly a great experience where you really feel like you have left the planet and are skiing somewhere in the remote Himilayas. Vail gets one gold star for expanding to include Blue Sky Basin, the equivilent of Keystone's Outback - a nice remote area where you can find powder on a good day and away from the crowds. Otherwise Vail can get crowded, despite the further drive from Denver.