when i first started coming to colorado about 15 years ago i spent my time between vail and steamboat. had good friends with couches in both places. if you are going to be in vail, steamboat is only about 1 1/2 hours farther, but with a lot less people. vail is a fun mountain, i love turning it loose in the back bowls with no trees or obstacles going fast is not the least bit scary, and now the blue sky basin lets you see the back bowls from the next ridge over. it is impressive how big the place is and how far away from the base you can go. steamboat on the other hand has the best tree skiing and riding around. we don't have the big open bowls, but there is a lot of variety being able to duck into the trees almost anywhere on the mountain. steamboat is not quite as big as vail, almost 3000 acres compared to vail's 5000 or so. steamboat has one thing vail does not. aside from the gondi line in the morning, uncrowded lift lines. vail is so close to the front range that they get a hugh influx of weekenders every weekend. steamboat is a destination resort. people usually travel on the weekends and stay all week. sat and sun are generally transition days for the tourist crowd. there are a lot more locals who go on the weekends, but it never seems any more crowded on the weekends as opposed to the weekdays. steamboat is about 10500 feet at the top, vail is somewhere just over 12,000 i think. when you gat that high the air seems pretty thin regardless, but a lot less people have altitude sickness here in steamboat.