Blue Sky Basin marks 15 years at Vail Mountain

Since its opening 15 years ago on Jan. 6, 2000, Blue Sky Basin has become a legendary area on Vail Mountain and a favorite amongst locals and guests from around the world.

This outer-most area of the resort offers a distinct backcountry feel, complete with glades, cliffs, steeps, and often plenty of powder and fresh tracks within 645 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain!

In honor and celebration of Blue Sky Basin’s 15th anniversary at Vail Mountain, following is a list of the 15 things we love about this legendary area of Vail Mountain!

  1. A Powder Day!

It goes without saying that Blue Sky Basin powder days are the best days! An abundance of powder, fresh tracks and secret stashes await skiers and snowboarders here after recent snowfalls.

  1. The Backcountry-Like Feel

Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy all the ambience of the backcountry, including barn-like structures, gladed terrain, cliffs and steeps, all within the safety of the ski resort boundaries. The NSAA even awarded Vail with the Silver Eagle award in 2000 for excellence in visual impact.

  1. Its Size

With 645 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain, Blue Sky Basin alone is bigger than many individual ski resorts around the United States! That’s a lot of terrain to explore in addition to the rest of Vail’s more than 5,000 acres of terrain.

  1. Gladed Terrain

Known for its amazing natural gladed terrain, Blue Sky Basin, offers fantastic tree skiing in places like Champagne Glade, Steep and Deep, and Resolution.

  1. Groomers, too!

Intermediate skiers and snowboarders don’t be shy, Vail Mountain’s snowcats still make the seven-plus mile journey out to Blue Sky Basin each day to groom trails like Big Rock Park, Grand Review and The Star.

  1. Grilling at Belle’s Camp

Pack up the burgers and brats, and head out to Blue Sky Basin’s Belle’s Camp for the ultimate on-mountain barbeque complete with expansive views of the Sawatch Mountains and Ten-Mile range.

  1. The Views

Blue Sky Basin’s terrain isn’t the only thing that takes your breath away in this outer-most area on Vail Mountain. Panoramic views of surrounding mountain peaks and of Vail’s legendary Back Bowls are just as impressive as the sheer variety of terrain.

  1. Lover’s Leap

Whether you take the plunge solo, or with a partner, Blue Sky Basin’s Lover’s Leap is sure to get your heart pounding as you slide up to the edge of the cornice and take a leap of faith onto the steep snow surface below.

  1. Choose Your Own Adventure through Big Rock Park

No two runs are ever the same when skiing and snowboarding down Big Rock Park. Stick to the main-groomed trail, weave in and out of tree islands, pop into the trees for fresh powder, and make this run all your own!

  1. Dawg Haus

Break for a brew and a brat at this trail-side hot dog stand in between laps on Pete’s Express Lift (#39). It’s the perfect quick lunch stop for hungry skiers and snowboarders who don’t want to break from their powder laps for too long.

  1. The Name and Historical Connection

The name of the area honors the Ute Indians, the original settlers of the Vail Valley, who were referred to as the “Blue Sky People.” The tribute, combined with Colorado’s brilliant blue skies inspired the name Blue Sky Basin. The area also pays tribute to Vail’s founders in the names of two of the three Blue Sky Basin chairlifts – Earl’s Express Lift (#38) and Pete’s Express Lift (#39).

  1. While the Snow’s Away, the Wildlife Can Play!

As part of the approval for Blue Sky Basin, the U.S. Forest Service implemented a Supervisor’s Closure on the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin to protect elk calving habitat from early-May to the end of June and no organized summer activities are allowed.

  1. The Fireplace at Belle’s Camp

Head inside Belle’s Camp to warm up by the fire on a snowy winter’s day.

  1. The Snow Stake Cam

Your best source for live, up-to-the-minute snowfall totals in Blue Sky Basin. Check out the online camera at Vail.com to see for yourself how much snow fell in the past 24 hours.

  1. Last, but certainly not least, that one particular line in that one particular place on an epic powder day – you know the one!

What do you love about Blue Sky Basin? Share your favorites with Vail throughout the month of January by tagging @VailMtn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and using the hashtag #BlueSkyBasin.

For more information visit www.vail.com, stop by the Mountain Information Center, or call (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245).

EpicMix Guide allows guests to ski Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts announced that EpicMix™ Guide, the fifth generation of its award-winning, free, multi-channel app which will re-imagine how skiers and snowboarders will maximize their time on the mountain this winter, is now available for download for iPhone or Android operating systems.

EpicMix™ Guide uses guest input to generate a customized, step-by-step navigational guide to experience Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone in Colorado, Canyons in Park City, Utah, or Heavenly, Northstar or Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe like a long-time local.

“With EpicMix Guide, skiers and riders are able to input what kind of skiing they like to do, what kind of terrain they want to explore and how much time they have available, and the app provides a custom itinerary to help them navigate the mountain in a care-free way, maximizing the fun they’ll have that day,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts.

Guests need only download the EpicMix app from the iTunes Store or Google Play for the Android Market, then activate their free account via the app or at www.epicmix.com using their pass or lift ticket number.

They then log into any one of the various EpicMix channels (app, mobile web, desktop) and answer a variety of questions including: desired resort, starting location at the resort, terrain difficulty desired, and length of time available.

EpicMix Guide then automatically generates the optimal route for that guest on that day. The online version is perfect for those who want to plan their trip in advance, while the app is the best way to track real-time progress.

“EpicMix Guide is like handing you 20 years of experience at that resort on your first visit there,” said Lynch. “We’re putting this power at the fingertips of every one of our guests.”

The EpicMix development team sought the insider knowledge of each resort’s most experienced Ski and Ride School instructors to build itineraries which would let guests explore each mountain in a unique way that is appropriate for the corresponding skill level.

Guests can experience beginner routes such as “Schoolmarm Cruiser” at Keystone or intermediate routes like “Dipper Explorer” at Heavenly, or challenge themselves with advanced routes like “Ricky’s Ridge Adventurer” at Vail.

These are just a few examples of the 350 possible routes spread across the eight mountain resorts (excluding Park City Mountain Resort).

Once an itinerary is completed, skiers and riders can share their itinerary, along with photos and other stats about their day, on social media through Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ll give you all the assets you need to share the story about your epic day,” said Lynch.

Twelve days of Christmas at Keystone Resort

With nearly five feet of natural snow falling in November, Keystone Resort enters December with a plethora of great snow, open terrain, exciting events and Holiday cheer. Here are twelve good reasons to visit Keystone this month:

Twelve Santas Smiling
Santa Claus visits Keystone twelve times during December, providing plenty of time to get those Christmas lists submitted and say “Hi” to the big guy. Various dates and locations throughout December.

Eleven Children Climbing
Keystone’s season-long Kidtopia programming begins with the grand opening of the Kidtopia Snow Fort, the world’s largest snow fort. Ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 atop Dercum Mountain.

Ten Noses a Knowing
Keystone Executive Pastry Chef Ned Archibald utilizes 8,000 pounds of imported chocolate for the Keystone Chocolate Village, complete with various winter scenes. Free to attend, located in the Keystone Lodge and Spa from Dec. 19, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015.

Nine Trails a Glowing
Delay the après with Colorado’s longest ski day as Keystone provides 11.5-hours of skiing and snowboarding fun. Dec. 5-6, 12-13, and 19-31 Keystone is open from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Eight Cooks a Cooking
Skip the cooking, cleaning and preparation needed for hosting a Christmas dinner and enjoy a delicious meal at one of Keystone’s signature restaurants. On Thursday, Dec. 25, the Alpenglow Stube, Der Fondue Chessel, Dinner Sleigh Ride, Keystone Ranch, Ski Tip Lodge and Bighorn Bistro & Bar all offer a Christmas menu. Reservations are required, 800-354-4386.

Seven Revelers Ringing
Live music, dining specials and fireworks are some of the great ways families can celebrate New Year’s Eve at Keystone. There is skiing and riding to be had too of course, guests can enjoy the slopes until 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and begin New Year’s Day with first chair at 8:30 a.m.

Six Families Brunching
Bighorn Bistro’s new family brunch provides kids and adults their very own buffets. Children will enjoy games, entertainment and a fun atmosphere with free supervision provided, while next door adults will enjoy a classic brunch including mimosas and a bloody-mary bar. Located in the Keystone Lodge and Spa on Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Five Golden Rings
Okay, not really. But during the 12 Days of Keystone guests can win prizes such as a season pass, snow cat tour, lift tickets and Keystone swag by posting ‘countdown’ photos to Instagram and tagging @Keystone_resort. Winners will be chosen daily from Dec. 1-12.

Four Free Clinics
Keystone’s Ski and Ride School will provide complimentary one hour clinics for first-timers or guests looking to hone their skiing or riding skills. Two-days, two-clinics – skiing or snowboarding, offered Dec. 13-14 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. atop Dercum Mountain during Get to Know Keystone Days.

Three Peaks Open
December provides excellent early-season skiing and riding conditions, with access from all three of Keystone’s mountains; Dercum, North Peak and The Outback.

Two Nights Only
“Keller & His Compadres” will be performing at Warren Station Dec. 19-20; doors open at 8 p.m. Keller Williams will also perform a solo set each evening. More information and tickets available at warrenstation.com.

And; many a Kidtopia Activities
Ripperoo’s Village parades, Starquest and Fireworks round out an eventful December at Keystone.

Ripperoo’s Village Parade – featuring Keystone mascot Ripperoo and friends at 4 p.m. in River Run Village on Dec. 13, 20 and 27.

Starquest – Keystone Science School provides a unique exploration of the universe. Free to attend, meets at Kidtopia Headquarters in River Run at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Fireworks – free firework display visible from River Run and Lakeside Villages at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13, 20 and 27.

Bigfoot Adventure Walks – A free adventure-filled nature walk. Meets at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30 at Kidtopia Headquarters.

Vail Mountain to open on Friday at 9 a.m.

Vail Mountain, one of the largest ski resorts in the world, will open for the 2014-2015 season on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 with access out of both Vail Village and Lionshead as well as return routes to both base areas.

“We know that we’ll be opening both base areas, but we’re going to give our snowmakers, groomers and patrollers one more night to confirm exactly what we’ll be able to open on Friday morning for Vail’s opening day,” said Chris Jarnot, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “Stay tuned for an update tomorrow.”

Vail Mountain lifts will open at 9 a.m. throughout the early season to accommodate early-morning operations. Skiers and snowboarders are asked to observe all posted signs and closures, especially during the early season.

American Airlines announces flights to Vail for next ski season

American Airlines has just released a new flight schedule between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Vail/Eagle County Airport (EGE) for the 2014-2015 ski season, making it easier than ever  to ski or ride Vail and Beaver Creek with seamless connections.

Vail/Eagle County Airport is located only 45km from Beaver Creek and 56km from Vail, with door-to-door transfers to your lodging in Vail or Beaver Creek available in private, chauffeured four-wheel drive vehicles and shuttles with Colorado Mountain Express.

Daily non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Vail/Eagle County Airport will operate from Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 through Sunday, April 5, 2015, maximizing accessibility to Vail and Beaver Creek over the Christmas/New Year break, January school holiday period  as well as the March Easter break.

The new flight will depart Los Angeles International Airport at 8:45 a.m. With a 12:05 p.m. arrival to Vail/Eagle County Airport, skiers can now ski on the same day they arrive. On the day of departure, snowboarders can maximize their holiday with a full ski day, departing Vail/Eagle County Airport at 6:45 p.m., arriving in Los Angeles at 8 p.m.

For those choosing to complement their ski holiday with a visit to other U.S. destinations, American Airlines also offers daily, non-stop flights from Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 through Sunday, April 5, 2015 between Vail/Eagle County Airport and New York Kennedy, Miami, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago Airports.

Spring Fever Festival and great skiing at Breckenridge

With over a foot of new snow falling in Breckenridge since Sunday - and more in the forecast – spring skiing is at its best as Breck’s Spring Fever Festival enters a fourth week of events, offering more of the Bud Light Concert Series and plenty of Easter festivities!

The Bud Light Concert Series continues on Friday and Saturday with two festival powerhouses: Colorado’s Yonder Mountain String Band on April 18 and Blues Traveler on April 19 to close out the concert series for the season. Both shows are free to the public and the entertainment is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on a specially-constructed stage facing One Ski Hill Place, a RockResort, at the base of Peak 8.

Sunday will be a family-filled day of Easter events, starting with a sunrise service on Peak 9, then an on-mountain Easter egg hunt on Peaks 8 and 9.  This year, Breck is using compostable Easter eggs for the Easter egg hunt and a new prize redemption process will help reduce waste by making sure fewer eggshells and candy wrappers are left on the mountain.