The Rocky Mountains are world-famous for their massive ski runs all across the state and have plenty to live up to, especially for the jet-setters who can afford to compare runs around the country and the world. But be advised: Vail delivers on its slopes in a big way. Devotees who live and die by the sport always come away gratified with the amazing downhill runs in the area.
Perhaps most alluring of all are the popular back bowls in the vicinity. The term “back bowls” refers to large mountain basins, often empty of a lot of trees, which allow for boundless skiing across a large wide-open space. This means acres of uninterrupted powder to glide across, unlike the narrow and directed trails that many runs offer. It’s a special kind of experience that can only happen on a special kind of landscape — one which Vail has an abundance of. Here are the seven best back bowls to try out.
One of the lesser-known and less crowded of Vail’s basin skiing areas is the Tea Cup Bowl. This is considered one of the easier of the bowls to ski and is perfect both for beginners and those who like to have the snow less populated with fellow skiers. Regularly groomed, this easygoing spot is a favorite for relaxing and honing one’s skills while still enjoying stunning views. Make note of the shape and see if you really see the signature teacup terrain for yourself!
Although many folks don’t consider Game Creek Bowl a true back bowl, it nevertheless deserves to be mentioned and is well worthy of an outing. The spaces aren’t as wide as its more traditional cousins, but it still has the right shape and feel. This is an easy-to-navigate area; although there are runs at all levels from beginners to experts. It’s also a terrific place for warm-up runs before you go to the “true” back bowls. Compare it to the others and see what you think for yourself!
Here Comes the Sun
If you’re into long swaths of uninterrupted, ungroomed ski runs, then the famous Sun Up Bowl is the place for you. This is a popular spot, but both lift times and capacity have been improved in recent years, so make sure not to miss this, especially the “Forever” trail that spills down 1,850 vertical feet! That’s some serious downhill to shred! You’ll soon see why so many folks love to flock here.
Into the Sunset
A funny thing about the strangely named Sun Down Bowl — it’s a favorite spot for early morning skiing! This is a place with exceptional views and trails with some serious twists and turns. And by the way, the “Forever” run shares some space with the Sun Up Bowl here. Mostly known for its extreme terrain, this one is more suited to advanced skiers. If you’re ready to level up, practicing here will certainly challenge you!
Into the Far East
One of the easiest back bowls on this list also happens to be one of the best. The China Bowl is a wide-open space and favorite for folks who just want to go on and on into the endless white fields. Serene and imbuing a sense of freedom, it’s also convenient to get to. Rest assured, there are runs for the more experienced as well. But for the most part, the trails here cater to easygoing shredding without too many obstacles.
There seems to be a sense of foreboding when it comes to the Siberian Bowl. It’s by far the least frequented of the bunch, which may seem strange since it’s also the largest. But it’s also incredibly steep and mostly ungroomed. In other words, this is mainly for the most fearless and experienced skiers to enjoy. If you’re confident that you can take it on, then you may have it all to yourself! Don’t tempt fate if you’re not sure, though, this bowl is no joke.
Genghis Khan Country
Actually made of two bowls, Inner and Outer Mongolia are the far-away adventures to partake of on this list. Among the least convenient areas to get to, once you are there, the quiet can be deafening. This is the best place to find unmarked powder and gentle glades. Perfect for less experienced skiers, it is no less impressive than the others and perhaps the most gratifying once you’ve made the effort to get there.