Our Multi-Use Mountain

Uphill Access

Friends at the top of a groomer run resting before riding down
Use and Access
Uphill access, also known as skinning or snowshoeing, is an increasingly popular way to log miles, enjoy solitude in nature, and get invigorating exercise during the winter. Vail Mountain does allow uphill access, but several factors (like snow safety operations, maintenance and operations, and seasonal considerations) can affect the availability.
Always call our Trail Hotline to learn about schedule and use considerations:  (970) 754-3049.
Hazards and Concerns
As an uphill traveler, you’ll always cede the right-of-way to downhill traffic and will need to be aware of mountain operations going on around you. Below, a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Stay on designated hiking trails and/or to the side of trails during daylight hours, and remain visible from above at all times.
  • Respect all trail closures, ropes, and warning signs.
  • Wear bright colors and/or items with reflective elements to maximize your visibility.
  • Stay clear of all snowmaking and snow grooming equipment.
  • Leave Fido at home:  pets may not be allowed to accompany you. For details on pets and service animals at Vail Mountain, read our Chairlift Guidelines here.
What to Do
  1. Call the Trail Hotline for access information.
  2. Prepare for your tour.
  3. Heed our advice above.
  4. Enjoy!
Want to get started uphill skiing?


Backcountry Awareness

The ski area has no responsibility for skiers going beyond the ski area boundary. Areas beyond the ski area boundary are not patrolled or maintained. To access the backcountry, use designated gates only.
Exit point gate to lift-accessed backcountry at Vail notes the hazards of leaving the resort
Use and Access
Backcountry use, where available, allows Resort guests to leave the Resort through designated exit points to enter unmarked, unpatrolled, and unmaintained snow on United States Forest Service (USFS) or other public lands. Beyond these gates, you’re on your own—so getting the right education and equipment is critical to a safe and memorable experience. 

(Note that unless you’re exiting the Resort through a designated exit point, you may be trespassing on private property and could incur penalties, fines, or have your pass suspended.)

Vail Mountain does allow guests to depart the resort from designated exit points, but use and limitations vary. 

Call (970) 754-3049 for the latest information on available exit points, snow safety operations, and permissibility of out-of-bounds skiing.
Hazards and Concerns
When heading out of bounds and into the backcountry, you’ll need to rely on yourself and your partners—which is exactly why skiing or riding with a partner is so important. Rescue by Eagle County Search and Rescue, if available, will be costly and take time.
The Know Before You Go program details 5 steps to addressing the hazards of the backcountry. 
  • Get the Gear
  • Get the Training
  • Get the Forecast
  • Get the Picture
  • Get Out of Harm’s Way
Learn more here, or read on for training opportunities.
Get the Training
There are a wealth of resources (and no, we don’t mean Google) to get you started as a backcountry skier or rider. At Vail Mountain we offer backcountry programs (i.e. avalanche safety, rescue, and training) as well as backcountry tours to familiarize you with the types of hazards and terrain you may encounter in the backcountry.
Ready to travel with your Epic Pass and interested in what other resorts may have backcountry offerings? Upon arrival, be sure to ask for more information at Guest Services to learn about available tours and backcountry programs. Otherwise, keep reading for more information on our available programs here.
Ski instructor guides a skier in the backcountry in Vail, Colorado
Non-resort Avalanche Training
Outside of our resort-based avalanche and backcountry education programs, two industry options exist:  the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and American Avalanche Association (A3) both provide training programs for recreational and professional users of avalanche-prone terrain. 
Check these organizations’ websites for local training opportunities and to connect with your local backcountry community.
Guides & Tours
Dipping your toe into the deep end of backcountry? Join us for an introduction to backcountry skiing with either an all-day tour or as part of our workshops, both of which cover all the ski-touring basics, including technique, equipment, and avalanche safety.

(Wondering how you ended up on this page when all you wanted to do was learn about mellow cross-country skiing? Our apologies, but perhaps this link will alleviate your frustration.)

Ready to jump into the backcountry with one of our workshop? Sign Up Today

What to Do

If you went through the information above and thought, “I’m ready to go,” not so fast! Make sure you run through this checklist first:
  1. Call the Trail Hotline for information on exit points and snow safety operations for the day: (970) 754-3049
  2. Check that you and your lift-accessed backcountry friends all have sufficient training and gear.
  3. Know the current Vail and Summit County backcountry avalanche forecast, available from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).
  4. Understand recent snowpack, weather trends, and the effect on snow layers.
  5. Know current weather conditions including snowfall, temperature, and visibility.

Need to find more backcountry friends? Take an avalanche rescue course!
Sign Up Now

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Stowe all allow uphill travel of some sort—but different resorts have different rules. Please see the Uphill Travel Policy for a detailed answer.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center provides backcountry avalanche forecasts for Vail and Summit County. Read the forecast here
For on-mountain snow safety information, ask a Ski Patroller. If you’d like to see what terrain is currently accessible, check Terrain & Lift Status.
Vail Ski Patrol’s phone number is (970) 754-1111.
Most Vail Resorts that allow uphill access do not allow allow travelers to use resort property during operating hours. As such, a pass may not be required--but always call your local resort first. Uphill Access Hotline information is available here.
Traveling in the backcountry can be life threatening even with training and education.  Snow conditions and avalanche danger are entirely up to Mother Nature and change constantly.
While avalanche hazard and snow conditions within the ski area may be mitigated they are still not eliminated.  Terrain outside the ski area boundary is not maintained or patrolled.  You are relying entirely on the skill and knowledge of you and the our partners.  DO NOT travel in the backcountry alone.

Leaving for the wilderness through the Vail Mountain exit points is just like every other day in the backcountry:  you must be prepared to cope with emergencies due to fatigue, equipment failures, weather, and avalanches.

Use the Know Before You Go program’s 5 step framework to prepare:

  • Get the Gear
  • Get the Training
  • Get the Forecast
  • Get the Picture
  • Get Out of Harm’s Way

Learn more about this free avalanche awareness program here.

The links provided on this page are for informational purposes only.  Vail Resorts does not endorse or approve the content on the sites and bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the sites. Contact the site owner for answers to questions regarding their content.
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