This iconic ski area is the third largest single ski resort in the United States and the largest in Colorado. Vail looks nothing like most other ski towns in the Rockies, which usually began as mining or ranching towns in the 1800s; Vail didn’t even exist until the ski resort was developed in 1962, and it was built to look like a Tyrolean village, with wide walking streets and easy access to the slopes. By 1968 a young congressman named Gerald Ford was coming here frequently, eventually buying a home that became his “winter White House” when he became president, putting Vail on the world map. Vail Mountain is divided into three key areas: the Front Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Back Bowls. There are 31 lifts (including two gondolas) that access more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain. The ski area spans nearly seven miles in length, and the longest single run, Riva Ridge, stretches four miles. There are two terrain parks and runs for first-time skiers to advanced cliff jumpers.