Vail Ski Resort is located in Eagle County, Colorado, next to the town of Vail. Vail Mountain, at 5,289 acres (2,140 ha), is the largest single mountain ski resort in the United States, featuring seven bowls and intermediate gladed terrain in Blue Sky Basin. It opened in 1962 and is currently owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which also operates three other ski resorts in the state (Breckenridge, Keystone, and Beaver Creek) as well as Heavenly Ski Resort, Northstar at Tahoe, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe.
Vail Mountain has three sections: The Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Back Bowls. The mountain is the second largest resort in North America after Whistler Blackcomb at over 5,200 acres (2,100 ha). Most of the mountain is wide open terrain with trails of all types, from cruising runs from most Front Side and Blue Sky Basin lifts, to the wide open Back Bowls, glades, chutes, and moguls in the Northwoods area, cornices in Blue Sky Basin, and much more. Vail Village is modeled on Bavarian village styles, with pedestrian streets.
Unlike other Colorado ski towns such as Aspen, Breckenridge, or Steamboat Springs, which existed as mining towns prior to the establishment of their ski resorts, the town of Vail was built when the resort opened.
Vail was founded by Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton in 1962, at the base of Vail Pass, which was named after Charles Vail, designer of the highway that passed through the valley.During World War II, Seibert joined the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division which trained at Camp Hale, 14 miles south of Vail between Red Cliff and Leadville. During the training Seibert and Eaton became familiar with the surrounding terrain, areas of which would become resorts in later decades. They discovered a peak that believed to be well-located and with good snow, calling it No-name Mountain, which later became Vail.
Construction of the resort began in 1962 in the uninhabited valley. It opened six months later on 15 December. There were three lifts: one gondola that ran from the base of the front side to midmountain, called MidVail; a lift from MidVail to the mountain peak; and a lift allowing access to the back bowls. Vail quickly grew to become a popular ski resort, a village formed at the base, near the gondola ski lift, which was taken down in the 1970s.
White River National Forest
Vail Resorts operates on National Forest System lands under special use permit to the White River National Forest. Master Development Plans, Winter and Summer Operations Plans, Construction Plans, and every phase of the permit holder's skiing operation is approved by the federal government annually prior to construction and operation. In exchange for the use of National Forest system lands the resort pays an annual fee to the U.S. Treasury amounting to about one dollar per skier visit. Twenty-five percent of the fees collected are returned to Eagle County, Colorado, for roads and schools, in lieu of taxes. The federal government supports the objective of providing healthy recreation opportunities in quality natural outdoor environments. Millions of national and international users during all seasons of the year appreciate the opportunities provided by Vail Resorts and White River National Forest through the public and private partnership on federal lands.