Vail Skiing: All About Blue Sky Basin

The Inn at Riverwalk is an excellent place to stay for skiing Vail. Located in the heart of the Edwards Riverwalk, you get the fun nightlife and world-class restaurants of Edwards without the hassle of staying in the Vail or Beaver Creek Villages. The Inn is 13 miles west of Vail, which provides easy access to this expansive ski resort. 

Vail is a well known ski resort for good reason. The snow in this region of Colorado is especially dry which creates a consistent powdery quality. Additionally, the resort is enormous with an incredible amount of skiable acreage. A large contributing aspect to this vast area is Vail’s Legendary Back Bowls. The Back Bowls warrant a blog article of their own, but the most special and sought out of all Vail’s resorts is Blue Sky Basin. This area is where you are immersed in nature and where you will feel small on Vail’s enormous world-class ski resort. 

Blue Sky Basin is the backmost bowl of Vail’s seven back bowls. It is located across a large gully from the other bowls and is wooded. The mountain is north facing, while the other back bowls have significant sun exposure. Both the trees and the aspect of the mountain mean the snow stays light and fluffy a long time and holds more snow than the rest of the resort. This makes for truly epic skiing and consistently incredible conditions. 

Blue Sky Basin is a mecca for intermediate and advanced skiers. The basin is known for several blue runs and many black/double black runs. As you can see from the map below, there are no green (beginner) runs. The blue runs are decently mellow and if you find yourself there as a beginner, take your time and stick to the map/signage designating the blue runs. 

If you are a skier in between intermediate and advanced runs, Blue Sky Basin has several runs that are perfect for transitioning into tree skiing. Champagne Glade is the leftmost area of Blue Sky Basin and has clusters of trees broken up by large meadows that offer an easy escape if you end up going too fast. These open sections are a joy to ski. The edge of Champagne Glade is rarely skied and will have fresh powder turns several days after a big snow. 

If you are an advanced skier, there are several small cliffs that make for an area to be adventurous with a few jumps. A favorite route is to ski off the cornice toward the top of the Skyline Express Lift and cruise down into Lover’s Leap. Both Lovers Leap and Skree Field have cliffs you can jump, but each cliff is very visible, so you won't have to worry about accidentally finding yourself at the top of one. Also, the area has several routes with lots of built up snow in between the cliffs. This area ends up in open glades that are utterly beautiful to ski through. 

The majority of this basin is broken into two main areas. The right side of the basin is serviced by Pete’s Express Lift and the left side is serviced by the Skyline Express Lift. Pete’s Express Lift favors intermediate skiers and will generally be slightly more trafficked than other runs on that side. The left side of the basin has wide open runs, less traffic, more acreage, as well as a slight increase in steepness and has more difficult terrain.

Most runs in Blue Sky Basin converge towards the bottom of the Pete’s Express Lift where there is a large picnic area at the Dawg Haus. The Dawg Haus is a locals’ favorite for food on the mountain; serving gourmet hot dogs that are inexpensive, delicious, and hit the spot after a big day on the mountain. They occasionally run out of food by the afternoon, so if you are hungry as you pass them, it is a good time to stop.

The top of Blue Sky Basin has Belle’s Camp, which offers hot drinks including coffee and hot chocolate, as well as pre-made snacks and cold foods. The hut is cozy and the perfect place to sit, warm up, and recover on cold days. Outside the hut at Belle’s Camp is a large flat open section where you can catch some sun while having a break. A fun and unique feature of Belle’s camp are their BBQ grills. These grills are open to the public if you prefer to bring your lunch box - a favorite activity of the locals. 

The grills are usually turned on by Vail Staff at the start of the day, with the fuel provided by the resort. You only need to bring the food you plan to grill!. Enjoying hot food with the beautiful view of the surrounding mountains after a nice morning or afternoon at the resort is a hard to beat experience.

Blue Sky Basin is legendary and for good reason. It is ultra fun and the open terrain ensures you and your group have all the space you need. Each run provides a wonderful ski adventure while surrounded by majestic beauty. Blue Sky Basin is located seven miles from the Vail Village, and thus, it opens later in the morning and closes earlier. It will require a little additional time to get back to the Village, but it is well worth the trip.

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