In our “Best of” series, we’re tapping our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts to help us pull together top trails in the terrain category (beginner offerings, groomers, moguls, steeps, powder, etc.) each ski resort is known for having the best of.
For skiers and snowboarders who yearn for perfectly ridged, soft corduroy, Vail is one of Ski Country’s top resorts for carving up the groomers. Vail’s world-class grooming team works overnight, tackling more than 1,000 acres before the lifts start turning the next morning. If you’re lucky enough to shred first (groomed) tracks at Vail, you’ll have hard time deciding which you prefer: powder or fresh corduroy. With 1,000-plus acres of corduroy to enjoy, Vail offers an impressive array of manicured runs. To help you enjoy the best of the best, we tapped some of our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts to compile a list of Vail’s top groomed trails and the best chairlifts to access them.
Best lift access: Avanti Express (#2)
Take Avanti Express up to access this spirited cruiser, which features an abundance of rolling hills. A steep pitch allows skiers and snowboarders to feel the Gs and let their edges run before the trail meets up with several other trails and funnels skiers back to Avanti.
Best lift access: Northwoods Express (#11)
One of Vail’s widest trails, Northwoods never feels crowded—even during the holidays. The moderate pitch and broad expanse makes Northwoods a joy for testing out your short radius turns or carrying some speed and carving big G.S. turns.
Best lift access: Eagle Bahn Gondola (#8)
Ski from the top of Eagle’s Nest to the Lionshead base area on Born Free, a well-manicured, wide intermediate run. Once you’ve hit your ideal speed, you’ll be hootin’ and hollerin’ as you descend down this zippy, playful trail.
Best lift access: Northwoods Express (#11) or Mountaintop Express (#4)
One of Vail’s most challenging groomed runs, Riva Ridge will get your blood pumping. The black-diamond trail descends for four miles and is typically groomed on Mondays and Fridays.
Best lift access: Wildwood Express (#3)
Offering exceptional Gore Range views and tasty BBQ, Wildwood lodge is a great place to stop for lunch. After your meal, get your body back in ski mode on Hunky Dory’s broad, exuberant slopes, and make some hero turns.
The Back Bowls
Chopstick | China Bowl
Best lift access: Orient Express (#21)
At some point during your Vail ski vacation, you’re going to want to experience a lunch at the magnificent Two Elks lodge. After you’ve enjoyed a great meal and exceptional views from the humongous floor-to-ceiling windows, head to the famed Back Bowls. From Two Elks, China Bowl is just a couple steps away. Everyone in your family or group—no matter their ability level—will enjoy gliding down China Bowl’s Chopstick run. The gentle, vast trail drops skiers and snowboarders back at the Orient Express (#21) and provides access to Blue Sky Basin.
Cloud 9 | Blue Sky Basin
Best lift access: Skyline Express (#37)
Blue Sky Basin isn’t just for experts. Cloud 9 is a great intermediate trail that winds down through trees and over playful knolls. If you’re part of a family or group with varying skiing or snowboarding levels, Cloud 9 provides the opportunity for intermediates to enjoy a fun groomer while the more advanced members can test their mettle on Blue Sky’s many black-diamond runs. Everyone can rejoin at Skyline Express (#37) or Pete’s Express Lift (#39) and recount their experience.
Lost Boy | Game Creek Bowl
Best lift access: Game Creek Express (#7)
Beginners, intermediates and experts alike will love cruising along Lost Boy in Game Creek Bowl. The upper reaches of this long, wide trail provides gorgeous views of Mt. Holy Cross and the Gore Range. Everyone can carve up the corduroy at their own speed and meet back up at the lift.
Yonder Gully | Sun Up Bowl
Best lift access: Sun Up Lift (#17)
Located just off the Sleepytime catwalk on Sun Up Bowl, Yonder Gully is a zippy, wide groomer that drops skiers and snowboarders at Chair 17. Like China Bowl and Blue Sky Basin, Sun Up is a great area for a family or group with an array of comfort and experience levels. Everyone can choose their own line down the bowl, but corduroy lovers and intermediates will best enjoy Yonder for its smooth snow conditions.
Laurel Ann Nelson
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2012
“Born Free and Riva Ridge are among my favorite groomers at Vail. Both are wide open and just pure fun!”
Experience these topnotch groomers for yourself this winter and book your Vail ski vacation today! Start by building a customized quote. If you’re not quite ready, read more about Vail’s top cruisers and intermediate terrain or call one of our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts at 800-610-8911.
Director of SEO + Content
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.