Comparing Vail vs. Breckenridge Ski Resorts
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 Breckenridge. 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.
Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge is renowned for its outstanding ski slopes spanning over 2,908 acres and 187 trails. One of its remarkable features is the Imperial Express SuperChair, the highest chairlift in North America, towering at 12,840 feet. Visitors should take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque view of Colorado’s stunning peaks from the top. With a base elevation of 9,600 feet, Breckenridge has one of the highest base elevations in Colorado, creating ideal conditions for producing high-quality snow. However, visitors should be cautious of altitude sickness.
Peak 8 is the highlight of Breckenridge, showcasing everything from groomers and award-winning terrain parks to powder-filled bowls. Like Keystone, access to Breckenridge is available through the EPIC Ski Pass program.
Mountain Stats Comparison
|Location||Breckenridge, CO, 80424||Vail, CO, 81657|
|Summit Elevation (ft)||12,998||11,570|
|Base Elevation (ft)||9,600||8,120|
|Vertical Drop (ft)||3,398||3,450|
On a summer day, Vail and Breckenridge are separated by an easy 40 minute drive. However, during heavy snowfall, I70 can become a parking lot, turning that 40-minute trip into a few hours. However, in the winter you can expect the drive to take slightly over an hour, with early mornings and weekends during ski season adding even more time than that.
Breckenridge is closer to Denver than Vail by about 25 minutes or so.
Breckenridge Ski Resort is located in the Tenmile Mountain Range, specifically on peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. While Vail is located in the Sawatch Mountain Range. Both ski resorts are on the western side of the Rocky Mountains.
Both Vail and Breckenridge can be considered bigger than the other, but it depends on which metrics you look at to come to that conclusion.
Breckenridge has a higher summit and base elevation; however, Vail has the steeper vertical drop. Breckenridge has more lifts, but Vail has slightly more trails, and much more skiable acres. However, Breckenridge has more snowmaking coverage than Vail: 600 acres to 500.
Vail’s longest run is 4 miles (Riva Ridge), with Breck’s (4 O’Clock) just slightly less at 3.5 miles.
Both resorts have more expert/advanced trails than any other skill level, and their easiest runs come in at under 15% of their total amount. When looking at our internal difficulty score, Breckenridge is slightly harder than Vail, but not by much. They both are within our top 25 hardest ski resorts in the North America.
Both resorts are surrounded by large après-ski towns that will have just about anything you want during your trip.
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.
Breckenridge’s Main Street village is constantly being voted as one of the best ski towns in the US. It is lined with bistros, bars, saloons, and a brewery, while activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling are just nearby. Breckenridge has a good balance of lodging options, après-ski entertainment and non-skiing activities at an affordable price.