There’s plenty to do in Vail once ski season ends.
Situated in the Gore Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains about 100 miles west of Denver, Vail is a popular winter destination for skiing and snowboarding. And though Vail Ski Resort and nearby Beaver Creek Resort attract visitors from all over the world during the Centennial State’s cold and snowy months, Vail’s deluxe hotels, luxurious spas, fine-dining restaurants, manicured golf courses and rugged hiking trails mean there’s plenty do in this mountain town in every season.
Winter in the Vail Valley means steep hotel rates, bustling restaurants and busy ski slopes. Though these days summer prices approach those of ski season, you can still find great deals and have more of the mountains to yourself during Vail’s shoulder seasons, in spring and fall. If you’re planning your next trip to the Rockies, here’s a month-by-month breakdown of what there is to do in each season in Vail.
High Season: December–April; June–September
Best time for skiing and snowboarding; best time for hiking and mountain biking
Winter has historically been the busiest season in Vail by a wide margin. These peak months are the most expensive time to visit Vail, with skiers and snowboarders driving up demand at ski-in/ski-out hotels like Grand Hyatt Vail and The Arrabelle at Vail Square. In the summer, Vail’s low humidity and mild 70-degree weather has drawn an increasing number of hikers, mountain bikers, whitewater rafters, fly fishers and other outdoor adventurers. Though its growing popularity is inching prices higher, summer is still more affordable than winter.
Shoulder Season: September–November
Best time for relaxed hiking and fall color
Fall in Vail is laid-back and relaxed, with near-perfect weather for outdoor pursuits and seasonal events like Oktoberfest. On weekends in late September and October, leaf peepers flock to Vail to catch the changing Colorado’s famous golden-yellow aspen leaves, while weekdays are mostly quiet. Since it’s shoulder season, some attractions and restaurants close to give their employees a break and tackle maintenance projects before ski season.
Low Season: April–June
Best time for deals
Spring weather in the Rockies can be wildly variable – a whiteout snowstorm one day, sunny blue skies the next – but this slower-paced season also offers the best value and the smallest crowds in Vail. When ski season ends, typically in late April, Vail settles into its low season, when hotels are at their most affordable. Hiking trails are muddy as the snow begins to melt, and some local businesses close for a few weeks. Yet with a little advanced planning (and realistic expectations!), you can still have a great trip. Vail Ski Resort and Beaver Creek Resort typically reopen for summer operations (hiking, mountain biking and family activities like a mountain coaster and zip lining) in mid to late June.
January is cold and snowy but the powder is great
Ski season is fully underway and the Vail Valley is buzzing with visitors from all over the world. Hotel room rates are sky-high, but so are the stoke levels, especially on powder days. The weather is snowy, cold and perfect for hitting the slopes, cozying up by a fireplace or getting a massage at one of Vail’s many spas.
February is one of the snowiest months in Vail
Expect lots of snow, crowds and expensive room rates in February as ski season continues at full speed. February is one of the snowiest months in Vail, and avid skiers and snowboarders like to take full advantage.
Key events: Vail Legacy Weekend
March warms up but the spring break skiing is still fantastic
The weather is slightly warmer in March, with temperatures creeping up into the 40s – though there’s still plenty of snow falling. As ski season continues, many travelers visit Vail over spring break.
April can get beautiful days and huge dumps of snow, spring skiing at its finest
April ushers in spring skiing in Vail – bluebird skies, soft snow conditions and a fun, upbeat après-ski scene. Though the weather is mostly sunny and mild, spring storms still periodically dump snow on the Gore Range. Beaver Creek and Vail resorts typically close in the middle of the month.
Key events: Taste of Vail, Spring Back to Vail, Beaver Creek and Vail closing day
Mud season in May is quiet and affordable
After ski season ends, Vail enters its soggy spring-shoulder season. Temperatures start to climb into the upper 40s and 50s, and hiking trails are muddy and slushy as the snow begins to melt. The town is quiet and affordable, though, offering the best deals of the year – and if you don’t mind being a little limited in what you can do, you can afford to stay at some of Vail’s poshest hotels on a budget.
Key events: Vail Whitewater Race Series
June begins the summer festival season
As temperatures climb into the 70s, the long-awaited summer season gets underway in the Vail Valley. Beaver Creek and Vail resorts open for summer operations, which include scenic gondola rides, hiking, mountain biking, golf and adventure activities like bungee trampolines and mountain coasters. There are lots of events and festivals, and June marks the start of Vail’s beloved recurring summer offerings like the farmers market. Guided activities, tee times and restaurants can fill up quickly, so be sure to make reservations as early as possible.
Key events: GoPro Mountain Games, Vail Craft Beer Classic, Vail Arts Festival, Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show, Bravo! Vail Music Festival
July has amazing wildflowers
Vail is gorgeous in July, as wildflowers begin to bloom and Gore Creek rushes with runoff. It’s a prime time to plan a trip focused on outdoor activities like fly fishing, golfing, hiking, cycling, whitewater rafting or strolling through the colorful flower beds of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Nightly rates are high, especially on weekends, and hotels book up fast.
Key events: Vail Jazz Festival, Vail America Days, Vail Bluegrass, Vail Dance Festival, Eagle County Fair & Rodeo
August is the best time to summit the area's highest peaks
For adventurous hikers, early August is a great time to summit one of the region’s “13ers” – mountains above 13,000ft in elevation – since the high-alpine snow and ice has finally melted. Temperatures are in the mid-70s, perfect for cycling over Vail Pass on the bike path or going backpacking with llamas. Lodging remains expensive but starts to taper off once kids return to school.
Aspens start to change in September
September is a blissful extension of summer in Vail, with slightly cooler temperatures that are perfect for hiking and mountain biking. The aspen leaves typically start to turn yellow around mid-September (though exact timing varies from year to year). Though there are fewer travelers in town overall, September is still a popular time to visit and room rates can be pricey, especially on weekends. The town and the ski resort also host many fall-themed events and activities.
Key events: Vail Oktoberfest, Gourmet on Gore, Vail Automotive Classic
Weekends in October tend to be busy
Though October is part of Vail’s shoulder season, weekends can be fairly busy as people take day trips or plan long weekends to see the changing fall foliage. Hotel rates are more affordable during October, but if you’re on a tight budget, best to plan your trip for the middle of the week.
Key events: Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week
November heralds the start of ski season
Vail Ski Resort typically opens in mid-November, with Beaver Creek Resort not far behind. While the still-early season for skiing and snowboarding means limited terrain, plenty of eager travelers spend Thanksgiving on the slopes regardless. Plus, since Vail recently expanded its snowmaking system (adding an extra 200 acres of new snowmaking terrain to its existing 430 acres), the resort is less reliant on Mother Nature for snow and can open more runs in November.
Key events: Opening day at Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas, Revely Vail
December is busy but so pretty
Ski season continues to be relatively mellow for the first half of December, really starting to pick up around the holidays. Lots of people plan ski trips to Vail and Beaver Creek during their kids’ winter breaks from school, when the town is aglow with holiday lights and there are lots of festive gatherings and celebrations to attend.
Key events: Vail Snow Days, Vail Holidays, Vail Winterfest
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