This is one article in a series of posts that compares one ski resort with another. Most times, the two ski resorts we compare are close to one another and are within the same difficulty range as one another. There is no sense in comparing a major resort in Colorado with one on the East Coast.
Today, we are comparing Vail and Beaver Creek. The reasons that these resorts are often compared to one another are:
- Both are located along the I70 Corridor west of Denver.
- Both are a part of the EPIC Pass.
- They are both high-profile destination resorts.
Vail Ski Resort
Vail Ski Resort is known for its size and reputation as one of the best in North America. It is owned by Vail Resorts, the company responsible for the EPIC Pass, and is often considered the flagship mountain of the company. With an extensive range of terrain and a first-class ski village, Vail is frequently touted as the ultimate Colorado skiing experience.
In addition to its exceptional skiing, Vail also features European-style villages with an abundance of restaurants, shops, and après-ski options. However, keep in mind that Vail is a popular destination, and as such, it can be crowded and expensive.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort
Beaver Creek stands out among other Colorado resorts with its lavish amenities, such as escalators connecting the village and chairlift, and complimentary freshly-baked cookies for guests. The resort’s well-groomed terrain is perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, with the highest point being the summit of Beaver Creek Mountain at 11,440 feet. The summit can be accessed via the Cinch Express Chairlift and the Red Buffalo Express Chairlift. If you’re concerned about altitude sickness, Beaver Creek has a lower base elevation compared to other big resorts in Colorado, making it an ideal option for travelers from lower elevations.
Beaver Creek’s skiable terrain covers a little over 2,000 acres and attracts fewer crowds than neighboring Vail, because of its smaller size and easier trails. The majority of the trails at Beaver Creek are well-groomed green and blue runs, which is in steep contrast to most other high-profile ski resorts in the area that focus on building challenging trails.
Mountain Stats Comparison
|Ski Resort||Beaver Creek||Vail|
|Location||Beaver Creek, CO, 81620||Vail, CO, 81657|
|Summit Elevation (ft)||11,440||11,570|
|Base Elevation (ft)||8,100||8,120|
|Vertical Drop (ft)||3,340||3,450|
|Annual Snowfall (in)||325||354|
Vail and Beaver Creek are 15 miles, or about 30 minutes away from each other. Beaver Creek is in the town of Avon, which is a quick trip west on Interstate 70.
Vail is closer to Denver than Beaver Creek by about the same 30 minutes or so.
Beaver Creek is set atop Beaver Creek Mountain, while Vail is located in the Sawatch Mountain Range. Both ski resorts are on the western side of the Rocky Mountains.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort has less than half the amount of skiable acreage that Vail has. Beaver Creek is more of a family resort that caters to all skill levels. They instead pride themselves on having immaculately groomed trails, a majority of beginner or intermediate trails, and one of the most highbrow experiences anywhere.
Vail on the other hand, focuses more on the experts and thrill seekers. Vail is one of the most difficult ski resorts in the country, ranking easily in the top ten percent in North America. Vail has over 50% of its entire trail system dedicated to expert or advanced skiers.
Both ski resorts here have very similar vertical drops and snowfall amounts. Vail’s longest run is 4 miles (Riva Ridge), with Beaver Creek’s (Centennial) clocking in at only 2.75 miles long.
Both resorts are surrounded by large après-ski towns that will have just about anything you want during your trip. While both very expensive, Beaver Creek is one of the most luxurious and expensive ski resorts in the country.
The three main villages at Vail are Golden Peak, Vail Village and Lionshead. Altogether, they stretch across 7 miles right along I70, all of which are served by a free bus system. Vail Village is at the heart of the resort, and is where most of the shops, restaurants, and bars are located. The majority of lodging here are mostly high-end options with ski in ski out or walk access to the lifts.
Beaver Creek resort may not be suitable for those looking for a lively nightlife or a budget-friendly vacation. It has three villages, with Beaver Creek Village as the heart of the resort. Stay here to have close access to a large portion of the resort’s terrain. You’ll also find most of the resort dining and shopping options in this pedestrian-friendly village, as well as an ice-skating rink and fire pit.
The town of Avon is located about a 10-minute drive north of Beaver Creek Village, but is actually connected to the ski resort via a 3-minute gondola ride. Lodging and food options are much more affordable there instead of at the resort.