Tips for Avoiding Vail Mountain Traffic and Skiing to Blue Sky Basin

While Vail mountain traffic can be as varied as the skiing conditions, some flow patterns are more predictable than others. No one wants to get bottlenecked into a long lift line or spend more time waiting around than skiing. Powder days, holidays, and weekends are always the busiest times at Vail, but it’s still possible to avoid the crowds. Route planning, timing, and flexibility are keys to success when navigating Vail mountain traffic.

And insider knowledge is always helpful, too. Since Vista Bahn Ski Rentals (VBSR) is located just steps away from Gondola One in Vail Village, stop in for advice. VBSR is also the place to come for ski rentals, demos, and repair—any time of the day or year.

Blue Sky Basin on a perfect powder day. Photo: Whitney Brofos

Blue Sky Basin on a perfect powder day. Photo: Whitney Brofos

Tips for Avoiding Vail Mountain Traffic

Spend more time skiing than waiting in lines this winter with these tips about avoiding Vail mountain traffic:

Ski Vail’s Off-Peak Days and Times: If possible, ski on weekdays and during non-holiday seasons. Check out our entire blog on this topic, “Off Peak Bliss: How to Ski Vail Off Peak Seasons and Times.” But if you’re skiing at a peak time, no problem. You’ve still got plenty of other resources to help you outsmart the crowds.

Blue Sky Basin's SkylineExpressLift

Blue Sky Basin’s SkylineExpressLift. Photo: Daniel Milchev

Check Lift Status Updates: For in-the-moment updates from the Vail lift dispatch team, follow Twitter @VailMtnAlerts. This account is updated throughout the day and is the quickest way to get updates on lift openings and closures. Also check the on-mountain lift status boards, which indicate long lift lines or closed lifts in yellow or red. When possible, follow the green lights to lifts indicating that Vail mountain traffic is smooth-flowing.

Consult with Emma: In the 2018-2019 ski season, Vail Resorts will be launching Emma, the “world’s first on-mountain digital assistant.” Through text messaging, Emma (Epic Mountain Assistant) offers guests real-time information on mountain conditions, lift status, wait times, and much more. If Emma is not able to answer a question, she will connect guests to a live agent for further assistance. Find more about Emma at www.EmmaIsEpic.com.

“Emma is the world’s first digital mountain assistant and continues a decade of pioneering technological firsts from Vail Resorts to enhance the guest experience,” says Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, in a November 2018 press release

Plan Your Route: Consider advice from Emma, updates from @VailMtnAlerts on Twitter, and the on-mountain status boards while planning your route to avoid high-traffic areas.

Know Areas and Times to Avoid: At peak times and on powder days, lines form early at base areas, including at Gondola One in Vail Village. Avoid the crowd by arriving 20-30 minutes after the lift opens so that the line can clear, or be prepared to wait. Due to traffic moving toward the Back Bowls, Chair 5 (High Noon Express) is the usually the next to get crowded. Check lift status updates, and avoid Chair 5 early- to mid-morning at busy times. At the end of the day, avoid Chair 11 (Northwoods Express), which often gets crowded as skiers make their way back down the frontside.

Be Flexible: Finally, stay flexible—and go with the flow of Vail mountain traffic. Change plans according to new information and lift status updates you receive on the mountain. Keeping skiing green-light lifts until other more desirable areas open up so that you can make the most of your ski day.

Blue Sky Basin's Belles Camp. Photo: Whitney Brofos

Blue Sky Basin’s Belles Camp. Photo: Daniel Milchev

Fast Track: Directions to Blue Sky Basin

Vail’s legendary Blue Sky Basin features beautifully gladed tree-skiing runs and a mixture of terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers. Skiing to Blue Sky Basin is an adventure itself, and the journey there allows you to preview conditions across the mountain along the way.

While many different options for getting to Blue Sky Basin exist, here’s the direct approach from Vail Village:

Directions from Gondola One to Blue Sky Basin for intermediate skiers:

  • Ride Gondola One in Vail Village; ski down to Chair #4
  • Ride Chair #4 (Mountaintop Express Lift)
  • Ski along Sleepytime Road (easy green catwalk) all the way to Blue Sky Basin’s Chair #37 (Skyline Express Lift)
  • Continue lapping Chair #37 or explore additional terrain from Chair #36 (Earl’s Express Lift) or Chair #39 (Pete’s Express Lift)

Directions from Gondola One to Blue Sky Basin for advanced skiers:

  • Ride Gondola One in Vail Village
  • Ride Chair #4 (Mountaintop Express Lift)
  • Ski down any black run in Sun Up Bowl to Chair #9 (Sun Up Express Lift)
  • Ski down any black run in Teacup Bowl or China Bowl
  • Continue skiing along the Sleeytime Road catwalk to Blue Sky Basin’s Chair #37 (Skyline Express Lift)
  • Continue lapping Chair #37 or explore additional terrain from Chair #36 (Earl’s Express Lift) or Chair #39 (Pete’s Express Lift)

Visualize and plan your route to Blue Sky Basin here with Vail’s online trail maps.

Stop by VBSR for Vail ski rentals—and advice about how to outsmart Vail mountain traffic. VBSR also provides quick repairs, ski and snowboard waxing, and more. Other convenient services include overnight precision ski tuning and ski storage. With full-size ski lockers, baskets, and coin-operated lockers for gear storage, you can walk away hands-free at the end of the day.