On the heels of the holiday bustle, January is a month when Vail sighs into some of winter’s best and calmest skiing. With the crowds gone, leaving the slopes tantalizingly vacant, it’s a great time to dine at three of Vail’s smaller, yet remarkable, on-mountain lodges. Here’s an insider’s guide.

Wildwood Lodge
This lodge, perched between the top of Chair Three and Sun Up Bowl, was one of Vail’s first. While it has been updated, its expansive back-bowl views are vintage Vail. Wildwood is known for its smokehouse and barbecue fare, so delicious it has a booth at the summer Farmer’s Market and other culinary events.

There’s nothing quite like a mid-afternoon coffee or lunch at Buffalo’s after a fantastic morning of skiing. This lodge has a coffee-shop vibe and offers soups, sandwiches, and chiles, as well as a host of coffee drinks and a view to the west.

Belle’s Camp
The size of this quaint lodge at Vail’s southernmost point was dictated by wilderness guidelines, and so is its selection of pre-made sandwiches and snacks. The draws of Belle’s Camp are its stunning views, backcountry sensibility, and proximity to Blue Sky Basin. If it’s a clear day, be sure to walk to the lodge’s back side for a glimpse of its panoramic wilderness beyond.