At Vail, the Back Bowls may be that resort’s trademarked signature terrain. On powder days, locals waiting for the rope to drop into the backside head first to Vail’s frontside powder trove, Game Creek Bowl, a concave depression west of the mountain’s summit that serves as a warm-up for the better-known backside. For beginners, there’s Lost Boy, a 1.29-mile, gently sloped green trail that begins just past the top of Chair 7 and hugs the western rim of Game Creek Bowl, named for Martin Koether, a 14-year-old who accidentally skied into the bowl before it was developed and survived a night outdoors hunkered in a snow cave. Game Creek’s signature intermediate run, Showboat, follows the fall line beneath Chair 7, while short but steep black runs, reservoirs of fresh powder as fine as any you’ll find in the Back Bowls, can be accessed from the bowl’s rim, from Deuces Wild, Faro, and Ouzo (plus Ouzo Glade, one of Vail’s finest treed runs) off Eagles Nest Ridge on the bowl’s east rim to Deuces Wild and unnamed drops into the trees off Lost Boy to the west, plus Dealer’s Choice, an intermediate run that skis fast when groomed and bumps out into one of the mountain’s best mogul fields.
Beaver’s Creek’s Game Creek twin is Larskpur Bowl, an often-overlooked powder trove on the main mountain’s far west side where, as at Game Creek, the action revolves around a namesake under-the-chair blue run that follows the hollow of the bowl’s fall line and an intermediate/beginner run that transits the bowl’s western perimeter (Primrose), with a few short but steep expert drops (Loco, S. Star, Lupine) with deep powder that evolves into moguls-champion-worthy bumps. Bonus for beginners: just west of Larkspur, McCoy Park, an intro-to-bowl-skiing proving ground that debuts this season.