Upon returning to Vail in 2004 for the first time since I was little, the first thing I noticed was the lack of snowboarders. Snowboarding is becoming more and more popular, especially among teens, so at many ski resorts you often find the adults on skis, and the kids and teens on snowboards. Although this varies, I was surprised to see just how many people my age (I’m 17) were skiing.
As I continued snowboarding and saw more of the mountain, it occurred to me that the mountain was groomed more for skiers. What I mean is, that there was less grooming. Vail Mountain is huge and it’s just not possible to groom all of it, so some of the runs are lumpy and mogully due to people carving the snow as they turn. These types of runs are easier on skis and there are runs for all ability levels. However, unlike many huge mountains, Vail does not have many flat cat tracks to get stuck on when you cross the mountain from one area to another.
So, don’t be deterred by the lack of snowboarders, because the riding there is great. The lumps just take getting used to. Plus, I was there mid-week during a non-holiday period, so there may be more snowboarders at other times of the year. It really is a great mountain with lots of choices of runs, and it’s really easy to get from place to place.
Great Skiing & Great Food
In addition to the skiing, the food at Vail is also very good. I have been to quite a few ski resorts and this place had some of the best quality on-mountain food, and the nicest variety that I’ve seen. There was food for everyone—hamburgers and fries, vegetarian wraps, soups, salads, and pastas. There were also several nice restaurants in Vail Village which you can go to for dinner. The only complaint I had about the meals was how few places served breakfast. I came to Vail with my mom, a friend, and her mom, and we found that the easiest thing to do for breakfast was to buy cereal and milk in a store and eat in the condo.
Other Activities In Town & And the Mountain
There are two things to do if you don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding: go into Vail Village and go to Adventure Ridge. Vail Village is full of cute but expensive little shops. There are buses to take you to and from the Village that are safe enough for teenagers to take alone and they stop right next to the condos. Although the shops are fun to look around in, they were way out of my price range and, much as I do like to shop, when there is no way you can buy anything there, you get bored quickly.
The only non-skiing/non-snowboarding activity for boys of pretty much any age is go to Adventure Ridge. Even if they like shopping, there aren’t a whole lot of shops for boys. I highly recommend Adventure Ridge to everyone going to Vail—parents, teens and kids of all ages.
Adventure Ridge has:
Tubing—great for all ages—there were 8-year-olds, preteens, teenagers, 30-year-olds and 50-year-olds all having a fabulous time.
Outdoor Ice-Skating—this is especially nice, because grandparents can come up the gondola and watch without any effort.
Laser-Tag – my brother would have loved this.
Trampolines—cool because there are two, side by side so you could do that with a friend.
Snowmobile Tours —one-hour tours with one or two riders starting at 4pm until 7:45pm.
Kid’s snowmobiling—kids ages 6-12. I think 12-year-olds would get bored; it’s more for 6-10-year-olds.
Ski-biking—this is fun but hard, and a little scary because you don’t have brakes—I’d recommend it to older kids.
Snowshoeing—guided hikes. I’d suggest it only for kids interested in nature who want to do it (In other words, parents: don’t force this on your kids.)
Orienteering—there are courses for any ability level.
Night Owl Program—this lets parents leave their kid (for kids ages 7 and up) from 4:30- 8:30pm on certain days. Kids get dinner and two activities for a set price. I don’t recommend doing this for teens.
Adventure Ridge is mid-mountain and very easy to get to. Go up the Eagle Bahn Gondola out of Lion’s Head Village and it’s all in one area at the top of the gondola. Vail’s convenient shuttles, which are safe and easy to get to, run every few minutes from your condo to Lionshead Village .
Staying in Vail
We stayed in a Destination Resorts condo which was a short walk to the Eagle Bahn Gondola and next to a shuttle stop. You are pretty close to everything if you stay here, and the condos are a nice size. I highly recommend getting a condo. The one we got had three rooms so my mom was in one, my friend’s mom was in one, and my friend and I shared one.
Separate rooms are nice and give kids and adults some privacy.
Vail Mountain : www.vail.com
Destination Resorts: www.destinationrockies.com
Madeleine Linares is a 17-year-old from Santa Cruz, California.
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