Beaver Creek Resort Review

Beaver Creek - Not Exactly Roughing It

Beaver Creek Resort, Beaver Creek, Colorado, Vail Resorts, Eagle County, CO, ski resort reviews
© Beaver Creek Resort.

Beaver Creek's motto is "Not Exactly Roughing It, " a sentiment that certainly rings true at the posh resort located in Eagle County, Colorado. From the moment guests arrive at Beaver Creek, they are treated like royalty. From the escalators that transport people from the base village to the snow to the famed white-glove service that accompanies "Cookie Time" each day, Beaver Creek makes it known that superior customer service is its top priority.

Beaver Creek Overview

Located a few miles down the road from Vail, Beaver Creek Resort opened in 1980. One of the newest ski and snowboard resorts in the U.S., the resort has hosted the World Ski Championships twice (in 1989 and 1999), and has hosted the Birds of Prey World Cup downhill ski race for the past several years.

Visitors are greeted by a European-style base village featuring heated walkways and filled with a wide variety of lodging, bars, restaurants and shops, as well as the aforementioned escalators. Ski and snowboard school and daycare facilities are also centrally located in the village, which is great for families with small children. Resort staff (mostly ambassadors) are visible everywhere, directing guests, answering questions, and occasionally lending a hand carrying gear (more on that later).

The mountain consists of 149 trails spread across 1,815 acres and served by 17 lifts (including ten high-speed quads and two gondolas).

19% of the terrain (345 acres) is rated easiest, 43% (776 acres) is aimed at intermediates, and 38% of the mountain is rated for advanced and expert skiers and riders. Beaver Creek covers about one-third of the mountain with snowmaking (610 acres), which ensures solid snow during early-season operations.

 

Like Groomers? You'll LOVE Beaver Creek!

Beaver Creek grooms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the season, or over 775 acres...per day. Their signature corduroy can be found across the mountain, from the challenging pitches of Goshawk (off the Centennial Chair) to the gentle, wide-open boulevards that make up the Bachelor's Gulch and Arrowhead areas of the mountain. For the most up-to-the-minute grooming information, check out Beaver Creek's Daily Grooming Report, which is posted both online and throughout the resort each morning.

When things seem crowded around the main base area and the trails on the middle of the mountain, do yourself a favor and head towards the Bachelor Gulch and/or Arrowhead areas. They're a bit of a hike from Beaver Creek Village, which tends to keep them less crowded. Both areas feature wide, impeccably-groomed boulevards with enough variety to keep everyone in the group entertained, and the views from the shoulder of Arrowhead are simply breathtaking. The only drawback to heading over to Bachelor Gulch or Arrowhead is the long cat-track required to get there from Beaver Creek Village, which can be difficult for the gravitationally challenged (i.e., snowboarders).

However, the trip is well worth the reward, so do whatever you must - whine, cry, look pathetic, etc. - and cajole a skier or two into helping you navigate the long flat sections en route!

 

The Gnarly Side of Beaver Creek

Base village escalators, cookie-time, 24/7 grooming and a reputation for attracting the rich-but-soft crowd don't exactly conjure up images of gnarly steeps, thigh-destroying bump runs, or epic glades, but that's exactly what Beaver Creek has to offer advanced and expert riders. The resort is very cognizant of the perception that it lacks challenging terrain, which spurred the creation of the resort's "other" website, BC<>EX. Exploring the BC<>EX site is fun, but can't hold a candle to the experience of actually riding the Beav's extreme terrain!

Beginning far riders-left, the Talons (the trails in this area are all named after birds of prey) are a series of fairly steep single and double-black diamond runs that are often littered with Volkswagen-sized moguls.

Above and adjacent to the Talons is the Royal Elks Glade, which offers steep shots through the trees and is an absolute blast on a powder day. Both areas are serviced by either the Birds of Prey Express or the Grouse Mountain Express, both of which are high-speed detachable lifts.

Once you're good and warmed up, head far riders-right for The Beav's ultimate challenge - the Stone Creek Chutes. Showcasing Beaver Creek's steepest terrain, the Upper and Lower Stone Creek Chutes are between 400-600 vertical feet in length, with pitches up to 45 degrees and numerous "launch pads" (a.k.a., cliffs) to keep all but the most hardened expert entertained for days. As one local put it, "You might wanna take it easy the first time through...those launch pads aren't exactly marked!"

 

Beaver Creek's Terrain Parks

Also included in the BC<>EX website are descriptions of Beaver Creek's four terrain parks and the resort's Half-Barrel Superpipe. The parks are clearly designated small, medium, and large, with the intention of decreasing the number of riders that get in over their head trying to hit features that they're not ready for.

Accessed by the Cinch Express lift, Park 101 is perfect for riders that are just starting out in the terrain park. Sprinkled throughout the park are small jumps, boxes and other jibs - all designed with input from the Beaver Creek Ski School.

Snowboarders that are ready for something bigger than Park 101 will be delighted by the layouts of the Zoom Room and Lumber Yard terrain parks. Both are designed with intermediate to advanced park riders in mind, with boxes, rails, log rides, jib/stall features, and medium (20-30 feet in length) sized jumps. Zoom Room is accessed from the top of the Cinch Express lift, while the Lumber Yard sits just below the Spruce Saddle lodge at mid-mountain.

Big boys and girls at Beaver Creek hang out in the Rodeo Terrain Park, located off Chair 6. The resort has parked its most technical rails and boxes (including "Shooter McGavin," a 25-foot double-barreled rail that kicks riders up and out at the end) in the Rodeo, along with some medium to large jumps (between 40 and 60 feet in length).

Regardless of what park you check out at Beaver, you can rest assured the features will flow well and be impeccably maintained. Remember the Smart Style guidelines, don't be a Joey, and have a great time jibbing and jumping in Beaver's parks!

Beaver Creek - Insider Tips

It's no secret (or at least it shouldn't be) that Beaver Creek is pricey. But visiting Beaver Creek doesn't have to be a make-or-break financial decision - as long as you know where to look and what to do, there are plenty of ways to save!

Start with parking, because like it or not, it's the first thing a guest experiences upon arriving at the resort. Beaver Creek's daily parking fee is north of $30, or so they'd like you to think.

Savvy skiers and riders make a beeline for the FREE Bear or Elk lots, located just west of the resort's main entrance. Both lots are a quick, free, and often entertaining bus ride (on the day we visited, our driver told the following joke: Q:"What's blue, and smells like red paint?" A:"Blue paint!" If that's not entertainment, I don't know what is!) to either Beaver Creek Landing or Beaver Creek Village.

Looking to eat on the cheap? What's better than COOKIE TIME?! Free cookies are impossible to say no to, and the taste of said cookies simply can't be beat! As for other, more traditional options: The portions served at the Spruce Saddle Lodge are massive, so splitting them is always an option. An $11 pizza or $13 turkey wrap is much more palatable when split between two.

One last cost-saving tip: Be kind to the locals! Get in good with a regular and you'll be amazed at the discounts and freebies that come your way...not to mention the good karma you'll accumulate.

Disclosure:

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary lift ticket for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.