Best Backcountry Ski Run — Best of Vail Valley 2019 |

Best Backcountry Ski Run — Best of Vail Valley 2019

1. Minturn mile

2. West Vail Trees

3. Stone creek chutes

There’s no shortage of ski runs in the Vail Valley, from lift-served trails on two world-class mountains to break-your-own-trail gaspers on the wide expanses of public lands. But for those who want to eschew the trail map—and have the necessary knowledge, experience and tools—backcountry skiing is a way to escape the crowds and enjoy the pleasure of untracked turns. One of the most iconic backcountry ski runs in the valley is almost antithetical to this ideal: It’s accessed from lift-served terrain and untracked lines are elusive rather than expected. However, there’s no more rite-of-passage-run than the Minturn Mile.

Exiting from a back gate on Vail Mountain and dropping into Minturn, the Minturn Mile has been a challenge and bucket list experience for skiers and snowboarders for decades. On a powder day, the start of the Mile provides a wide-open bowl for stellar turns before the trail turns into the trees and leads down the Game Creek drainage. The Beaver Ponds crossing can provide a bit of slogging or a chance to take a quick break with friends before hitting the luge portion and ending up in Minturn, where a margarita at the Minturn Saloon is the traditional celebration beverage.

But just as every powder day is different, so is the Mile. No matter how many times you’ve tackled the Mile, every descent provides a different, exhilarating experience.

-Katie Coakley

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