Ski Lifts in Vail

Vail has a world-class lift system with many high-speed quads, but weekend visitors sometimes clog up the base area lifts.

Vail Ski Lifts

Vail’s lift system is a combination of 34 lifts, including two gondolas, making it one of the top lift networks in the USA. With 14 high-speed quads, the lifts move people up and around the mountain in a most efficient manner with a capacity for 66,558 riders per hour, following the addition of new chairs on the existing lifts in Blue Sky Basin.

Gondolas 2
High-speed six seat chairs 4
High-speed quad chairs 14
Fixed grip quad chairs 1
Fixed grip triple chairs 2
Surface lifts 11

Lifts open at 8:30 am and close at 3:30 pm (2:30 at Blue Sky Basin – yes…it takes that long to get back to the base area from far-flung reaches of Blue Sky Basin…). Vail has continued to upgrade its lift system in recent years and the resort’s commitment to modern lifts translates into generally manageable lift lines except at a few chokepoints.

The Eagle Bahn Gondola leaves from the newly revamped Lionshead Village, taking visitors to Eagle’s Nest, home to Adventure Ridge, Vail’s mountaintop activity center. Golden Peak is the eastern base area and features the Golden Peak, Superpipe and Terrain Park, the Nordic Center, daycare, and much more. The Riva Bahn takes skiers and riders up to the middle of the mountain, allowing for easy access to the legendary back bowls and Blue Sky Basin.

Because of the influx of day-skiers from nearby Denver, the lines for some lifts can be bad (15 minutes and more), especially at weekends. The base area lifts, the Vista Bahn and the Eagle Bahn Gondola, tend to have the worst problem with lines. However, it’s easy to avoid them by taking the Riva Bahn Express out of Golden Peak, or the Born Free Express up out of the Lionshead base area. These two lifts provide easy access to the entire mountain with no lines.

Navigating between the Front Side, the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin is surprisingly easy. Vail has taken great care in laying out its lift system so that skiers can get back from the base of Blue Sky Basin to any of Vail’s base areas with just one lift (the Teacup Express). However, the Teacup Express can become extremely crowded with wait times of over an hour not uncommon when Blue Sky Basin closes. Be sure to beat the rush back from the Back Bowls and use this lift before Blue Sky Basin empties out.

Vail Lift Passes

Vail Resorts offers a number of pass deals. The most popular pass, the Epic Pass, gives skiers and rider unlimited, non-blacked out access to all 5 Vail Resort, Inc. owned mountains: Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Heavely. Check out for ticket prices. Buying early grants skiers incredible access at ludicrously low prices. The Epic Pass is, in our opinion, the best deal in North American skiing.

There are several ways to purchase lift passes. They can be bought through the website or, once in the resort, every base area has a lift ticket window where lift passes can be purchased. Juniors and seniors get discounts. If you’re a beginner and would like to take lessons, there is a special beginner ticket included with the ski lessons.

Vail’s incredible terrain comes at a hefty price, however, if buying a day ticket in resort. Look for discounts online, through local ski shops, in package deals, or multi-day passes. Peak season is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and mid-February through the end of March, while low season is November through mid-December, and April.


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