Vail Pass

Vail Pass Backcountry Skiing Photos and Info

The photo below shows the skiable terrain on the Eastern side of I-70 at Vail Pass. This photo was taken from the parking lot area at the top of the pass.

vail pass backcountry skiing


In the photo below you can see the side of Vail Pass that is located to the west of I-70. This is one of the most popular areas for skiing and snowmobiling on the pass. This photo was taken from Copper Mountain while looking up at the south-west side of Vail Pass.

You can see a large cornice in this photo and this can be a fun place to enjoy your afternoon on the pass. The terrain below the cornice (And above the main parking lot) is reasonably tame and this can be a great place to go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and backcountry trekking.

vail pass skiing

Vail Pass Skier Parking and Snowmobile Parking

There is plenty of parking at the top of Vail Pass. You can see the area below that is designated for snowmobilers, backcountry skiers, and recreationists. There is also a designated parking area for tourists who are just pulling off of the highway for a quick photo opportunity.

vail pass parking

Vail Pass Driving and Travel Info

Vail Pass is located between Summit County and Eagle Country. Copper Mountain is located on the Eastern side of Vail Pass and the Vail ski resort is located just to the West of Vail Pass.

This mountain pass does remain open throughout the winter. However, there may be temporary closures due to snow and wind.

vail pass


Vail Pass FAQ

Is the skiing and snowboarding accessible by car on Vail Pass?

You cannot get to the top of any skiable terrain by car or truck. You can drive to the top of Vail Pass by car, but you will need to park here and then access the steeper terrain above the highway by another means.

Are there avalanches on Vail Pass?

Yes, but there are also relatively safe areas to ski and snowboard.

Is there cross-country skiing on Vail Pass?

Yes, however the nordic skiing terrain will have several inclines no matter which way you go. You can ski on the bike path which matches most of the I-70 highway grade.

Do I need chains to drive over Vail Pass on I-70?

Most passenger vehicles do not require chains to go over this mountain pass during the winter. Some commercial vehicles and large trucks will require chains in order to drive over the pass on occasion.

How often does Vail Pass close?

This section of Interstate 70 does not close often. When it does close; this is usually the result of a snow storm and high winds. Once the winds die down the pass can be opened within a few hours.

Vail Pass Backcountry Routes