Vail is one of the most popular mountain towns in Colorado

Denver to Vail: complete transportation guide

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Planning a trip from Denver to Vail? 

Vail is one of the most popular mountain towns in Colorado a few hours from Denver, the capital of the state. Whether it’s time to hit the slopes in winter or take a scenic hike in the summer, Vail makes a fantastic getaway from the Mile High City.

The route to Vail from Denver is straightforward, as most of the trip is along Interstate-70. It’s a fun experience since the route takes you through some of the alpine scenery and cute Colorado mountain towns like Idaho Springs, Georgetown and Silverthorne.

Driving through Colorado’s Front Range, you will pass famous natural landmarks such as Mount Bierstadt and Dillon Reservoir.

✅ Check my guide to getting from Denver to Fort Collins, a hidden gem of Colorado

I’ve taken the road trip between Vail and Denver on many occasions, and decided to write this article to explain everything you need to know about traveling between these two cities

There are several transportation options for your trip to Denver. The best option depends on your priorities, budget, and available time.

This article goes over each alternative so that you can make the best decision. 

If you need to get from Denver to Vail, you can rent a car, book a shuttle or catch an Uber in Denver.

What is Vail known for?

Vail is the third-largest ski resort in the United States, with over 5,300 acres of skiable terrain. The town is renowned for its quality of snow and après ski, which means there’s plenty to do when you get off the slopes. The area boasts great accommodations, plenty of shopping, and corky bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite after spending a day outside.

Outside of ski season, Vail is still a heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, mountain biking, and camping are popular during summer. Vail also hosts annual festivals such as Vail Film Festival, Vail Resorts Snow Days, and Bravo! Vail Music Festival. 

How far is Vail from Denver?

Denver is roughly 100 miles away from Denver. The drive is a straight shot down I-70. 

Denver to Vail drive time

With no traffic, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Vail from Denver. However, traffic and road conditions can affect your time on the road. If you leave after work on Friday during ski season, the drive can take 2-3 hours. 

How to get from Denver to Vail: all transportation options

Most of the drive from Denver to Vail goes along the Interstate-70 through the mountains

By car rental

  • Price: $25 to $70 per day, depending on timing and type of vehicle 
  • Pros: Privacy, freedom to go at your own pace and make your own stops
  • Cons: You need to do the driving, which can be expensive depending on the number of days and the size of the car

Renting a car in Denver is the best option for taking a trip to Vail. Having your own car allows you to be on your own schedule. It’s also a good idea if you are planning a Colorado road trip.  

If don’t enjoy driving, you may choose a different option. While the drive on I-70 is not difficult, it can become stressful during snowy and icy road conditions.That’s why some travelers prefer to let others do the driving. 

If the weather calls for snow, it’s best to postpone your trip until the roads become clear. 

When does it snow in Colorado? Click here to find out.

Where to rent a car in Denver?

Denver International Airport (code: DEN) is the best place to find rental cars. This airport is one of the busiest in the country, so you can rent a car from over 10 different suppliers. 

You can look for car rentals through DiscoverCars, a platform that has the best variety, and allows you to browse its inventory.

➡️ Check my complete guide to renting a car in Denver

DiscoverCars has no hidden fees or surcharges, and you pay exactly what you see online. I’ve used their services multiple times and had a great experience on every occasion!

How to book a car with DiscoverCars

All you need to do is specify your travel dates and include the type of vehicle that you want to rent.

Whether you want to pick up a car at the Denver Airport or downtown Denver, you can choose from several major car rental companies including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Sixt.

When looking for cars through DiscoverCars, all you need is to specify the exact location where you will be picking up your vehicle. 


Do you need a car in Vail?

Renting a car is really only necessary for the drive to Vail. You don’t need a car to get around Vail, since it’s a pretty small town and very walkable. 

Vail has an excellent transportation system. The bus system can pick up visitors who stay outside of town and bring them to the ski resort. Or, if you don’t want to go to the resort village, the bus can also make stops in many parts of Vail.

By shuttle

  • Price: $89 during peak season; $74 during low season
  • Pros: Inexpensive, comfortable, no driving required 
  • Cons: You need adhere to their schedule  

Peak 1 Express Shuttle Service offers a shuttle from the Denver Airport to Vail every 30 minutes throughout the day. These shared shuttles can hold a maximum of 14 passengers and include complimentary Wi-Fi.

When booking, type in your hotel, resort, or Airbnb, and the shuttle will drop you off at the door. 

These shuttles cost $89 each way per person ($178 round trip) during peak season – the winter ski season. During the summer season, the cost is $74 each way ($148 round trip).

The ride to Vail from Denver Airport is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Book a private shuttle to Vail from Denver

If you would prefer something more luxurious, there are private charters available. Since you are getting the entire vehicle to yourself, this option can be a bit more expensive, between $400 and $850 each way. This option offers value for big groups who want to split the cost of the trip.

How much is the shuttle from Denver to Vail?

The shuttle from Denver International Airport to Vail is $89 each way during peak season, and $74 each way during low season. 

By bus

  • Price: $17 each way
  • Pros: Cheapest option 
  • Cons: Only four departure times each day, slow, shared with other passengers  

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bustang System travels from Union Station in downtown Denver to Vail Transportation Center four times a day.

Daily departure times are 7:00 AM, 9:45 AM, 2:00 PM, and 5:40 PM. The bus trip takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. 

These buses are comfortable and include amenities such as Wi-Fi, power outlets, luggage storage, and restrooms. At $17, taking the Bustang is the cheapest of all options, but it’s also the slowest. It can also be inconvenient if the departure times don’t work for you. 

Uber from Denver to Vail

  • Price: $120 to $132 for UberX; $224 to $246 for UberXL
  • Pros: Private, fast, convenient  
  • Cons: Most expensive option 

If you would like to enjoy comfort and a quick ride, Uber to Vail from Denver is the best option. Still, Uber is more expensive than all other types of transportation. A trip from Denver will cost between $120 and $132 each way. If you travel with ski equipment, you will need a larger vehicle, such as an UberXL. It will cost even more, between $224 and $246 for a one-way trip. 


An Uber ride will get you to Vail from Denver quickly – about 1 hour and 30 minutes without traffic. Getting Uber in Denver is very easy, all you need to do is request a ride through the app.

Can you get an Uber in Vail Colorado?

Yes, both Uber and Lyft operate in Vail, Colorado. There are also traditional taxi services in Vail. Note that it will be more difficult to get a ride from Vail to Denver, as there are fewer drivers around.

By plane 

  • $400 to $600 round trip 
  • Avoid traffic 
  • The expensive, entire process can take longer than driving 

Flying is another option for getting to Vail. The Eagle County Regional Airport (code: EGE) is the closest airport to Vail, 35 minutes away from Vail Mountain. The flight time from Denver to Eagle is about 1 hour.

There are three to four daily flights to Vail. Since the Eagle County airport is a small, regional airport, ticket prices tend to be high.


How much does it cost to fly to Vail?

Ticket prices can vary greatly depending on the time of year, the day of the week, and the timing of your booking. If you book during high season, round-trip flights can be anywhere from $400 to $700. Flights during the week in the low season can be cheaper. 


While flying to Vail is an option, most people make the trip by land. If you account for the time it takes to commute to the airports and check-in for the flights, the entire flying process is often much longer than making the road trip.

Denver Airport to Vail

The fastest way to get from Denver Airport to Vail is by car. Whether you rent a car or take an Uber, this will be much faster than taking a bus or shuttle. Large commercial vehicles may need to drive slower through the mountainous highway of I-70, which could add about an hour to the trip. 

Things to do in Vail: an overview

Hitting the slopes one of the best things to do in Vail.

Ski or snowboard the slopes of Vail Mountain

Vail is known for its world-class skiing with daily lift tickets starting around $177. If you are a beginner, the resort offers lessons at different prices based on age, skill level, and length of the lesson. 

Take a walk in Ford Park

This scenic alpine park was named after President Gerald Ford. Within the park, you will find the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest botanical gardens in the United States. Both the park and the gardens are free to enter. 

Take a hike

There are several trailheads at the base of Vail Mountain. Hikers can see some of the most beautiful nature in the Rocky Mountains. While the warmer months are the best time for hiking, these trails can be accessed at any time of year. 

Visit the Colorado Snowsports Museum & Hall of Fame

This museum is full of exhibits that explain the rich history of snowsports in Colorado. The Hall of Fame showcases over 200 Olympians, sport builders, and other people of inspiration who have called Colorado home over the years. This non-profit museum does not charge an admission fee but does appreciate a donation. 

Experience Vail Epic Discovery

It’s difficult to stay bored at Epic Discovery. Visitors of all ages can partake in adventurous activities such as ziplines, tubing hills, a climbing wall, and a roller coaster. The area is free, but you will need to pay for individual activities or a pass to access multiple activities. 

Best hotels in Vail, Colorado

Even the outside of this resort screams luxury, as the building resembles a European castle. Guests at The Hythe rave about the comfortable beds and relaxing atmosphere. The resort includes an on-site spa where guests can enjoy body treatments, massages, and manicures.

This hotel is perfect for those who may not need an ultra-fancy resort but don’t want to sacrifice location. Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer is just a five-minute walk from Vail Mountain. Complimentary continental breakfast is served every morning, which is perfect before a long day on the slopes. 

While there aren’t many budget-friendly hotels in the Vail ski village, Eagle Point Resort offers affordable accommodations just over a mile away. The local bus can easily take guests to the slopes of Vail Mountain. This hotel offers resort amenities such as a pool, hot tub, and sauna. 

Vail to Denver

The route to Denver from Vail is just under 100 miles on Interstate-70 East. The cheapest options are the CDOT Bustang bus and Peak 1 Express Shuttle Service, which runs from Vail to Denver several times a day. The fastest option is by car, whether it’s a personal vehicle, rental, or Uber. 

The quickest way to get from Denver to Vail is by taking a flight to Eagle County Airport

Best time to visit Vail

There are two distinct seasons in Vail – winter and summer. During the winter, you have the best snowfall, which is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts. This winter wonderland also brings large crowds and high prices.

Summer in Vail also attracts tourists who want to experience the great outdoors with warm temperatures and blue skies. Vail is not a cheap town, and the prices during summer are still high, but lower than the winter high season.  

The spring season is known as the shoulder season in Vail. This is when prices are going to be the lowest. It’s a great time if you want to experience the magic of Vail but don’t want to get hosed on accommodations

Fall is another popular time to visit Vail. People will flock to the area to see the amazing colors of the aspen trees which come out in gold. Autumn also brings mild weather before the first snowfall, which is perfect for being outside. 

Read my guide on how to get from Denver to Grand Junction, the largest city on the Western Slope

Visiting Vail in summer

Summer is the second-most popular season in Vail. There will still be decent crowds and pretty high prices, but much more to do. While winter is somewhat limited in activities, the warm weather opens up a different world. Golf, rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and much more become unlocked once the snow melts in Vail. 

Visiting Vail in fall

While it may be considered off-season, fall is one of the best times of year to visit Vail. Smaller crowds, beautiful weather, and stunning golden colors are all reasons to visit Vail during the fall months. 

Visiting Vail in winter

Winter is the high season in Vail. It’s when many skiers and snowboarders visit the area, causing prices to skyrocket. It may be expensive, but winter in Vail is a bucket-list experience for anyone who loves winter sports. 

Visiting Vail in spring

The shoulder season of spring in Vail is a great time to visit for those on a budget. Spring is going to have the smaller crowds and lowest prices. Springtime brings bluebird skies, soft snow conditions, and a fun, upbeat après-ski scene.

Denver to Vail: FAQs

Renting a car in Denver: Your complete guide

Is the drive from Denver to Vail scary?

The drive to Vail is almost entirely on I-70, a well-maintained highway. The only time the drive could become difficult is during winter when snow storms could create tricky conditions. Check the COtrip map for the latest updates on road conditions. 

Is there a shuttle between Denver and Vail?

Yes, the Peak 1 Express Shuttle Service offers a shuttle from the Denver Airport to Vail every 30 minutes throughout the day. 

How much is a shuttle to Vail?

The shuttle to Vail costs $89 during the winter peak season and $74 during the low summer season. 

Is it easy to drive from Denver to Vail?

Yes, the drive to Vail is relatively easy. The route takes place almost entirely on I-70 West. Heavy traffic during weekends and winter snow storms can make the drive more difficult. 

Uber cost from Denver to Vail

The price of an Uber to Vail is between $150 and $170 with UberX. For those who require a larger vehicle, an UberXL will be between $224 and $246. 

What is the best way to get to Vail Colorado: final word

As you can see, there are many ways to get to Vail. There’s an option that fits just about every budget and timeline. Whichever option you choose, your trip to Vail will be an amazing experience!