Acadia has just enjoyed another great Christmas and New Years, but that doesn’t mean that we are done with winter yet. For many of us, the end of the holiday season simply means the start of the ski season. Unfortunately, South Carolina does not offer the elevation and snowfall for an ideal skiing experience, so we have to range a bit farther afield to find some slopes. While North Carolina offers the quickest fix, the best skiing in the country is found out west in the Rockies. One of the most well-known skiing destinations in Colorado is the Vail Ski Resort. While the town was formed in 1966, Vail had already been a popular ski resort for four years prior. With the fourth largest skiable terrain in all of North America at 5289 acres, it is easy to see why so many people come back to explore. Vail is certainly an enjoyable experience for newer skiers, but it especially caters to the more experienced crowd. Over half the resort is made up of advanced black diamond runs. There are also many long catwalks connecting different sections of the mountains, so snowboarders especially need to keep their speed up. However, once you have taken a bit of time to orient yourself, it becomes very easy to navigate around the resort. If you are more comfortable on your skis / board, be sure to check out the often less-crowded back bowls. It is truly a wonderful experience to find yourself alone back there, carving new trails through freshly fallen powder.
It is easy to tire yourself out on the slopes, but it pays to save at least a little energy for the rest of Vail. Fortunately, there are several free shuttle services around the town, so you can keep the walking to a minimum. The city center features a wide variety of shops within sight of the main gondola. It is easy to overload on the wide assortment of souvenirs, jewelry, ski and summer gear, and more, if you are so inclined. Coincidentally, many of the shops also sell extra baggage. There are also plenty of great places to eat, from fine Italian dining to more relaxed pizza parlors or Mexican restaurants. However, it is well worth a quick 15 minute drive to the nearby town of Minturn for a trip to the Minturn Country Club. This restaurant was named with tongue firmly in cheek, so no membership is actually required. While they offer a wide variety of meats and seafood, the main draw is their excellent selection of steaks. You choose your cut from one of two little deli counters in the restaurant. Then, you cook the meat yourself at one of their two impressive grilling stations, which offer a bevy of seasonings to suit your taste. You can also order many different delicious sides, but I would highly recommend getting some mixed vegetables and grilling them along with your steak.
You will naturally need a base camp for all of these endeavors, and as a resort town, Vail naturally offers plenty of accommodations. The only one I can speak to is the Vail Cascade inn and condos. I am sure the inn is lovely, since it is rated at 4-stars. I have personally only enjoyed their restaurant and the large fireplace at their bar. The pheasant soup is a great way to warm up after a day on the slopes, especially combined with the fire. If you are lucky enough to have a friend in the nearby condos, though, you are in for a treat. The rooms are very spacious, and the facility houses a hot tub, workout rooms, and storage lockers. To top it all off, you can find the Cascade lift right out the back door, along with a lift ticket counter and a ski rental shop. There is also a small slope that leads to the bottom of the lift, so you can enjoy a complete ski-in, ski-out package
To learn more about visiting Vail Ski Resort, head over to the Acadia Travel Concierge site here.
Vail sounds great… what is the name of your friend with the condo, John? Pull me an invite, dude! —Caleb—