Before taking a trip out west to ski at Vail, I have to admit I was a little worried. I am a beginner skier, and the entirety of my skiing experience has been on slopes in western Pennsylvania which is known for being compacted and, dare I say, icy.
Everyone I spoke to said if I could ski to any basic degree on the East Coast, the slopes in the West would be a breeze. It only took a few runs at Vail for my concerns to go away, as every single person who told me this was 100% right. Even with poor, “dust on crust” conditions at Vail during my visit, I was having the time of my life.
Still, as Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the USA, there are dozens of dozens of trails to consider which, as a beginner, was incredibly daunting for my first time. Where do you go next? How do you avoid getting on a trail that is too hard for your skill level? I had few reference points on where to start and was only lucky that I was with friends who could scope out runs for me in advance.
So in this article, I want to share the progression of trails that I would recommend taking if you are skiing in Vail for the first time. This guide will start at the absolute easiest trails and then recommend others that could be the next logical leap as you advance.
Note: All named trails in this guide are marked in bold for easy reference. Other elements like park sections (Front Side, Game Creek Bowl, China Bowl) or lifts (Sourdough Express, Wildwood Express) are not. Likewise, we recommend opening up the trail maps in a separate tab to reference when reading this guide.