By any measure, Vail now ranks as one of the premier winter sports centers in the world. The resort opened in 1962 with just three lifts, and the daily ski pass cost $5. Today, there are no fewer than 193 trails served by 34 lifts, including one gondola and 16 high-speed quads. These provide seamless access to beginner slopes and backcountry bowls alike.
Vail comprises three contiguous sections, with Golden Peak to the east, Vail Village in the middle and Lionshead to the west. In the village, the quarter at the base of the main Vista Bahn lift has seen a dramatic redevelopment. Formerly cramped, graceless and filled with inconvenient stairs, this is now an uncluttered cobblestone area that has been renamed Mountain Plaza.
Also, Vail has become much easier to reach, thanks to the newly renovated and upgraded runways at Eagle County Airport 45 minutes to the west. Large jets now fly direct from 16 U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.