Posted on 22 Aug 2022

A Beginner's Guide to Vail's Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin

If it's your first time to Vail's infamous Back Bowls, you are in for an experience of a lifetime!

There's nothing quite like carving through their famed fields of powder after a big snowfall or mashed potatoes on a bluebird spring afternoon. The vistas take your breath away and you will want to take lots of photos. Later at apr?®s-ski in Vail village don't forget to share your photos with us at#TriumphMountainProperties.


Don't shy away if you are not a hard-core skier

At first, just the site of the back side of Vail can be overwhelming. The vastness might be intimidating but don't let that stop you. And don't feel like you will hold back your friends. One of the Vail's best qualities is that skiers of different skill levels can ski together all day and be very happy. In Blue Sky Basin for example, Dad can ski the trees in and out of Hornsilver while mom takes the kids down Grand Review.


Back Bowl Routes for the Mellow

China Bowl is Vail's tamest, mostly because Poppy Fields, a consistent intermediate pitch, runs down its center and is groomed daily. Shangri-La, to the east, offers intermediate gladed terrain. If you're feeling adventurous, take the road west out of China Bowl to the Outer Mongolia poma for dreamy gentle glades. Teacup, Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls have intermittently groomed swaths, noted on the morning's grooming report, and their corduroy can be heavenly first thing in the morning. These faces will be the equivalent of groomed black runs. Feeling confident? Venture to Forever in Sun Down Bowl.

And if you get out there and get scared - you can always stay on Silk Road or Sleeptime catwalks. It's worth it to just be out on the glorious mountains.

Easy ski to Blue Sky Basin

From Mountain Top - at the top of Chair 4 and 11, you can literally cruise down a catwalk all the way to the Blue Sky Basin Skyline Express Chair 37. The run is called Sleepytime Road and is designated a BLUE run - but it's a road. You can ski it!

Blue Sky Basin is a north-facing area designed for a true backcountry experience. Its lifthouses are encased in buildings and there is a minimalist lodge to limit impact. The easiest way down is Cloud 9. Again, this is a BLUE run, but most of it is a catwalk. Just take it slowly and you'll have a blast. Your hard-core friends can bomb down Steep & Deep and meet you at the bottom of Pete's Express - Chair 39. From there you take Pete's Express or start heading back. The only access back to Vail's front-side is via the Tea Cup Chair; so try to avoid this lift after 2:30, as the line can be long with folks returning.

Know your access points into the bowls

There are three main access points into Vail's Back Bowls. To the east is one at the tops of the Wildwood Express/Chair Three and the Game Creek Express/Chair 7, near Wildwood Lodge. At the mountain's center, access is at the tops of Mountaintop Express/Chair 4 and the Northwoods Express/Chair 11, near Buffalo's. The westernmost access is at the top of the Sourdough Express/Chair 14, near Two Elk Lodge.

Choose the entry point that leads to terrain best fitting your ability level and desire for adventure. Keep in mind that the back bowls are everchanging, and snow conditions from one day to the next can transform terrain from intermediate to expert. Note: Game Creek Bowl, though named a bowl, is not considered a back bowl.

A trip to Vail isn't complete without at least a glimpse of the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin!

VailBowls backbowls BlueSkyBasinMapVail

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Terri Goodman

(970) 479-9990

I'd love to get to know you and help find you the perfect accommodations here in the Vail Valley.

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