The best time to visit Vail is from December to March, as well as June to September. If you want to ski Vail or nearby Beaver Creek, those winter months are best. However, to explore the beautiful Vail Valley in warmer temperatures, summer is ideal.
I’m a Colorado local here to help you determine the best time to visit Vail. In this guide, I overview key travel seasons and what you can expect in terms of weather and costs. We’ll cover annual events and hidden gems you won’t want to miss.
When is the Best Time to Visit Vail?
December through March and June through September are the best times to visit Vail. To experience the largest and one of the best ski resorts in Colorado, travel during the winter months. For outdoor adventures like whitewater rafting and Colorado’s best hikes, summer is the perfect season.
Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong visiting Vail any time of year! From ambiance to activities, each season has its unique features that make for a fun visit.
When to Visit Vail For Great Skiing and Snowboarding
December through March is the best time to visit Vail for great snow conditions. Vail Ski Resort and the nearby Beaver Creek Resort are a straight shot from Denver and easily accessed from I-70. As one of the United States’ top ski destinations, winter is the busiest season in Vail — expect more crowds and higher prices.
When to Visit Vail For Cheap Prices
Spring and fall are low seasons in Vail, making them cheaper times to visit than summer and winter. During these months, Vail hotels are generally more affordable and you’ll likely score deals on food, drinks, and gear at local shops.
However, shoulder seasons come with some drawbacks. Some places may close early or for weeks at a time, allowing staff to prepare for the busier seasons to come. Before visiting, do your research and make reservations for desired activities in advance.
If you want to experience winter sports in Vail on a budget, consider spring skiing in late March and early April. You can also save by skiing on weekdays and avoiding the pricier holiday weeks.
When to Visit Vail For Families and Kids
Both winter and summer are great times for families and kids to visit Vail. Many places to stay in Vail are near ski gondolas, so it’s easy to get from the room to the slopes. The resorts have great ski schools with plenty of people eager to help wrangle kids and teach them the basics.
In summer, there are lots of family-friendly outdoor activities like an alpine coaster and ropes course. Hiking and mountain biking are also great for older kids, and there’s a nature center at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola.
In Vail and Lionshead Villages, you’ll find playgrounds, a candy shop, and several charming ice cream parlors. There’s also a small children’s garden to explore near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden.
When to Visit Vail to Avoid Crowds
Late fall and late spring are the best times to visit Vail to avoid crowds. Although varying each year, fall foliage tends to be at its peak in late September. After that, crowds taper off until winter skiing arrives.
In spring, when the ski slopes get slushy and bare, there’s a lull in visitors. Tourism picks back up in the warmer summer months, drawing hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Vail Travel Seasons
December through March
December through March is the most popular time to visit Vail. Revel in winter sports, après ski cocktails, and much more.
- Dine With The Dogs at Henry’s Hut – Sundays from mid-December to mid-March, you can lunch alongside Vail Ski Patrol and their trusty avalanche dogs. Learn about dog training and rescue drills, and ask ski patrol members any questions you may have.
- Vail Film Festival – Enjoy indie film screenings and workshops, panels, and networking events at this December film festival.
April through Memorial Day
Spring in Vail is all over the place! Generally, skiing is decent in early to mid-April, but daily temperatures fluctuate drastically. Dress in layers and expect icy slopes in the morning, followed by afternoon slush. If hiking, plan for muddy conditions, but trails start to dry out by late May.
- Taste of Vail – Each April, visitors experience a variety of restaurants in the Vail Valley, plus wine from around the world. For a day of skiing and sampling, try the Mountain Top Tasting on Vail Mountain.
- Spring Skiing – If there’s enough snow, Vail Ski Resort and Beaver Creek Resort will stay open through April. Take advantage of special discounts and deals as the season winds down.
Memorial Day through Labor Day
Memorial Day through Labor Day is Vail’s summer season, although it can take until mid-June to really warm up. But when it’s sizzling in Denver and the foothills, there’s no better way to escape the heat than with a quick trip to Vail!
- Hot Summer Nights – On Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, this free concert series takes place at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater.
- Vail Jazz Festival – From late June to early September, this festival hosts performances by jazz greats and up-and-coming artists.
- Vail Dance Festival – See dance in all its forms at the Vail Dance Festival, a two-week July event. Join discussions on the artistry of dance and see tap, ballet, modern performances, and more.
Labor Day through December
After leaf peeping is over, Vail and Lionshead Villages tend to quiet down and prep for the winter rush. In early fall, average temperatures reach the mid-60s, but be ready for cold as October and November move in.
- Leaf Peeping – Fall foliage in Vail is usually at its peak during mid- to late September. Drive through the mountains, ride the Eagle Bahn gondola, and go hiking for some great views.
- Oktoberfest – Both villages hold Oktoberfest celebrations which occur on two subsequent September weekends. Enjoy dancing and live music while sampling German food and plenty of beer!
Vail Weather and Climate
With a high alpine climate, Vail gets plenty of snow in winter! In fact, Vail’s average annual snowfall is 189.2 inches. Contrarily, Vail only gets about 18 inches of rain each year, which is well below the national average.
In winter, Vail’s average high temperatures are in the mid-20s to low 30s. Lows are usually between 0-10°F. Summer highs are in the mid-70s and lows range from the mid-30s to the low 40s.
Although Vail’s winter temperatures can be cold, don’t be surprised to shed layers during the day. Mountain weather tends to fluctuate, as things warm up fast when the sun is out. You’ll want to bring layers at all times of the year, along with plenty of water and sunscreen to combat the effects of Vail’s 8,150′ elevation.
For more help determining what to bring on a Vail vacation, see Abigail’s helpful Colorado packing list!
FAQs on the Best Time to Visit Vail
Which is better Vail or Aspen?
Is Vail CO worth visiting?
Vail, CO is worth visiting. It’s one of the best mountain towns in Colorado, home to the state’s largest ski resort. In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy hiking trails, bike paths, a golf course, and several festivals.
What months does it snow in Vail?
The months it snows in Vail range from October to May. December through March are the snowiest months, with February having the highest average snowfall.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you decide the best time to visit Vail! For more travel tips and ideas, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Colorado.
(Featured Image Credit: malgosiaw / 123RF)
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