Thanksgiving in Vail – When the countdown is on for Vail Mountain’s opening day, you know that Thanksgiving can’t be far behind. Vail traditionally opens the week before Thanksgiving, and this year is no exception. We think it’s pretty nice to be able to celebrate both the start of the winter season, and to gather with family and friends for the holiday all in the span of one week!
The best way to describe Thanksgiving in Vail is comfortably quiet – unlike most other holidays around here. Crowds are minimal in early season, but all of the restaurants and shops are open for business. Staff are fresh, after just coming off of the shoulder season, and ready to take great care of the first visitors of the season. You can walk around Vail Village and Lionshead, and you won’t find any long lines or big crowds. You can probably walk into your favorite restaurants without reservations. It’s quiet, peaceful and cozy – just as you would envision a ski holiday in the mountains should be!
Vail skiing and snowboarding conditions over Thanksgiving are always determined by Mother Nature. I have seen amazing snow conditions on Vail opening days when many of the front side runs were open. A few years, a couple of the back bowls opened, too. I have also seen opening days when only a couple of runs were open. The Vail Mountain Operations crew is one of the best in the country, and they do as much snowmaking as they can. However, natural snow is the key in early season, and that is where you take your chances. Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, and sometimes she showers us with riches. If you know that coming into a Thanksgiving stay, you’ll be prepared to have fun either way. Thanksgiving is much more than just skiing or snowboarding anyway.
Vail Mountain will have plenty of instructors on hand at the Vail Snowsports School regardless of conditions. If you want to fine tune your skills, this would be a good time to do it. The Eagle Bahn gondola out of Lionshead will be running and on-mountain dining will be available at Eagle’s Nest. Conditions may also allow for dining at Mid-Vail and/or other on-mountain restaurants like Buffalo’s or Wildwood. We wouldn’t be surprised if Adventure Ridge opens selected activities over the Thanksgiving holiday just like it did last year. It’s a great place to entertain the kiddos and enjoy time as a family. You can also try non-ski and snowboard activities like snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Snowmobile tours may not be available in all of the usual spots, but generally tours out of historic Camp Hale are running in early season. The views are spectacular when you get up to the vistas in that area!
On the actual holiday, Thanksgiving dinner can be anything you want it to be. It can be home cooked with your traditional family recipes in the comfort of your condo. All Lodge at Lionshead condos are equipped with dishware, glassware, silverware, serving pieces and cookware. If you need any specific cookware for your menu and can’t find it, just ask. We can usually provide specially requested items. If you don’t feel like doing the cooking, but still want to relax in your condo in front of the fire we can help you find catered dining options. These are available at numerous price points and levels of service from pick up (try Moe’s Original BBQ in Lionshead) to bringing a private chef to your condo to prepare, serve and clean up afterwards. Last, but certainly not least, many of Vail’s world class restaurants will roll out their own gourmet versions of Thanksgiving dinner. Our concierge staff is happy to share the different menus with you, and make reservations for you if you opt to dine out.
Lodge at Lionshead has a lot of “regular” Thanksgiving guests who come to stay with us each year at the end of November. They come to ski Vail, and have seen a variety of conditions themselves, but they also come for the rest and relaxation with their friends and families. Early season is value-priced, as you’ll see below, which makes taking a ski vacation with a big family easier on the pocketbook. It is also a lovely and quiet time to enjoy the ski season. Try it yourself. Who knows? You might start a new family holiday tradition of your own – an annual ski trip to Vail.
Vail Vacation Rentals
At Lodge at Lionshead, we realize optimal on-mountain conditions may or may not exist early season, so we keep our Thanksgiving holiday lodging prices low. In fact, the rates are just slightly higher than our summer rates – which is unheard of in Vail, even for early season. You can check out those low rates and availability right here on our website. We’d love see you this Thanksgiving!
One more tip…if the thought of an early season ski trip appeals to you, early December is another value-priced and less crowded time to visit. More of the mountain will have opened – again depending on how much natural snowfall the area has received – and back bowls may have started opening, too. There are also fun events like the Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup ski races in Beaver Creek, and free concerts during Vail Snow Daze which is two weekends this year. Let us know if you would like more information.
Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts, Inc.