Posted on 15 Jan 2021

Why Ski Vail's Legendary Back Bowls?

Vail's China Bowl PowderVail Mountain’s Back Bowls have a legendary status.  

These seven alpine basins are a powder-filled playground that span six miles. The 3,017 acres of fluffy fun are a bucket list item for many skiers. 

These powder fields are known for being for strong skiers seeking ungroomed terrain, but that’s not all the Back Bowls are about. (Yes, this is A LOT of what you get!) But, adventurous intermediate skiers can also enjoy this gorgeous swath of landscape with several often-groomed trails and all runs lead back to the lifts. (Tip: check the daily grooming report) 

Saying that, there is plenty of untamed snow, occasional cliffs and wide-open spaces. You’re in for a treat! 



Come to ski. Stop for the breathtaking views.

Go in with a plan! Here are the Three Main Access Points to Vail’s Back Bowls:  
Vail's Legendary Back Bowls

- EAST: Tops of Wildwood Express (Chair Three) and the Game Creek Express (Chair 7) near Wildwood Lodge 

- Mountain CENTER: Tops of Mountaintop Express (Chair 4) and Northwoods Express (Chair 11) near Buffalo’s 

- WEST: Top of Sourdough Express (Chair 14), near Two Elk Lodge 

Here they are in their glory, the Seven Legendary Back Bowls of Vail: 


1. Sun Down Bowl 

Access: Wildwood Express (Chair 3) or Mountaintop Express (Chair 4) and a traverse 

Wide open, sprawling terrain known for its steeps and extreme terrain. Sun Down has some intermittent grooming, check reports. 

Seldom – A locals’ favorite. Lots of cliffs. Skip the cliffs by heading left to a steep, but small mogul field. 

All routes end up on Sun Down Catwalk to the High Noon Express (Chair 5) 

2. Sun Up Bowl 

Vail's Sun Up BowlForever – One of Vail’s most iconic runs. Best when your legs are still fresh! 1,850 feet of vertical, one of the longest sustained pitches of steep, ungroomed skiing that you can find.  







3. Tea Cup Bowl 

Access: Mountaintop Express (Chair 4), Tea Cup Express, Sun Up or traverse from Two Elk Lodge 

One of the least-crowded areas at Vail, it’s a smaller bowl and easily missed. You’ll find cliffs near the bottom. 

Morning Thunder – You can find untouched snow days after a storm. 

4. China Bowl 

Access: Sourdough Express #14  or Chair #9 for more advanced skiers

This basin makes everyone happy. It offers everything from steep and deep cliffs, to glades and groomers. You can find much gentler, intermediate runs like Chopstix and PoppyfieldsIt gets its name from the east wall that is reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. 

Poppyfields – The only groomed blue run in the Back Bowls. 

Shangri-La – Glade skiing and uninterrupted tree skiing from top to bottom. 

Dragon’s Teeth Cliffs – top of China Bowl, wide cliff band with 2-to-15-foot cliffs accessed through gates. 

Genghis Khan – For expert skiers with a cornice entry and steep fall line. 

The Far East... 

5. Siberia Bowl 

Access: Chair #21

Siberia is the beginning of the most isolated area of the Bowls. Head east from here to Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia and find no one. East of Siberia there are lifts except the Poma Lift #22 (t-bar).  

Here you’ll find Red Square and Rasputin’s Revenge, this basin is the steepest in the Far East.  

6. Inner Mongolia Bowl 

Access: Take Silk Road to the Poma Lift #22 

Inner Mongolia is a true adventure with mild terrain and not many people. This is a treat on a powder or even a few days after as it can stay untouched.  

7. Outer Mongolia Bowl 

Access: Take Silk Road to the Poma Lift #22 

Outer Mongolia is the easternmost run on the mountain, you are really out there! This is accessible only by the poma. Keep your speed up on the catwalk! 

Vail has three distinct areas to ski: Front Side, Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. What’s your favorite spot to ski in Vail?  



Previous Steamboat Natural Hot Springs: Steamboat's Best Aprés New Meal Options With Moving Mountains Catering Next