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Aspen and Snowmass

“Prestige” is probably the word that best describes Aspen Snowmass. This is one of the most renowned resorts worldwide, with 4 ski areas, exclusive dining and après, high end shopping and the chance to rub shoulders with the A Listers. If you can afford Aspen Snowmass, there are few places to rival this exquisite destination.

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

At a glance: • Ski legend • 4 mountains • As classy as it gets

Great for: • Celeb spotting • Non Skiers • Varied ski area

“Prestige” is probably the word that best describes Aspen Snowmass. This is one of the most renowned resorts worldwide, with 4 ski areas, exclusive dining and après, high end shopping and the chance to rub shoulders with the A Listers. If you can afford Aspen Snowmass, there are few places to rival this exquisite destination.

Aspen and Snowmass Resort

Like its sister town Chamonix, Aspen’s one of the best known, sought after resorts in the world. Obvious from the fact that the town has the highest average property price in the USA (an insane $6 million in 2010), it has long been a destination for the rich and famous. Stars and celebrities are sprinkled around the town and Roman Abramovich, Mariah Carey and Lance Armstrong all have residences here (to name a few), giving you the chance to show up the celebs on the slopes. Despite this, the recent economic downturn has not left Aspen unscathed, which, in our opinion, is no bad thing. Still ridiculously upmarket, this recession has increased the accessibility for us mere mortals, enabling more reasonable accommodation and (much) cheaper dining options.

The skiing is world class, with four mountain areas each aiming at its own individual style and skill level. The town of Aspen is situated at the bottom of Ajax Mountain, only a few miles away from Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, with Snowmass Mountain and town a little further. Great for groups, families and solo skiers, the offerings off the slopes are extensive, with exclusive nightlife, fine dining, spas as well as the necessary designer shops to keep its ultra-rich happy, with Bvlgari, Gucci and Dior to name a few.

Aspen town itself started life as a mining town. The prosperity of the town has been reproduced, mimicking its past affluence (an example of which would be being the first town in Colorado to generate and provide electricity for everyone residing in it in 1887). This has inspired the beautiful Victorian architecture, creating a visually spectacular setting. With its full population pushing 7000, the town has more amenities than many purpose built ski settlements.

The Snowmass Mountain resort has recently had a $1 billion investment into its infrastructure. Located a few miles down the valley, various types of accommodation have been built to cater for a more family-centric vibe. Structured in much the same way as terraced fields, the accommodation is tiered in order to make the majority of lodging ski in/ski out.

Stats & FAQ

Location: USA, Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Established: 1946

Open: November – April

Downhill: 317 runs

View our detailed Aspen and Snowmass snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Aspen and Snowmass snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Eagle County Airport75 miles, 1 ½ hours
Aspen/Pitkin County Airport3.5 miles, 10 mins
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 15.5%

  • 40.5%

  • 44%

Top Altitude:3,813m (Snowmass)
Bottom Altitude:2,399m (Buttermilk)
Resort Altitude:2421m (Aspen Village)
Longest run:Longshot (5.3 miles)
Slope Orientation:N/E/W
Vertical Drop:1,343m (Snowmass)
Skiable Vertical:1,343m (Snowmass)
Night Skiing:No
Glacier:No

Snow Report

  • Top
  • 3cm
  • Base
  • 36cm
  • Forecast
  • 69cm

Web Cam

Aspen and Snowmass web cams
Downhill Runs:317 runs
Beginner slopes:15.5%
Intermediate:40.5%
Advanced slopes:44%
Lift Pass Price: $594 (adult 6 day)
Nearby resorts: Copper Mountain, Powderhorn

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Aspen and Snowmass

The four separate ski areas aren’t lift linked but the complimentary shuttle makes quick and easy transfers. Ajax, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass all offer customers different experiences, and combining to provide 317 runs and 4,819 skiable acres, offer a massive variety of skiing.

Ajax Mountain looms over the town of Aspen. Not recommended for anyone other than a confident intermediate and above, it has no beginner runs; with 65% advanced and expert terrain, there’s no question of who this mountain is aimed at, with numerous black diamond and double diamonds reachable from the top of the Silver Queen Gondola.

Aspen Highlands is home to some of the best groomers in the universe. Like Ajax it’s aimed more at intermediates and advanced skiers than beginners, although it does feature 20% beginner runs. Head backcountry after a hike up to the Highland Bowl for some steep, high altitude skiing.

Buttermilk is the place to go if you’re setting out on skis for the first time. With wide, progressive terrain, you can descend the 2030 vertical feet completely on beginner runs, meaning you aren’t relegated to the bottom of the mountain as with most resorts. 35% of the mountain is beginner, and 39% intermediate, meaning you can easily progress throughout the week. We like the runs underneath West Buttermilk Express for confident beginners. In addition, Buttermilk has made its mark as a freestyle heaven. Host to the X Games, it features 5 parks, 4 of which are linked to create one insane, mega park over two miles long – a must for any wannabe Shaun White or Simon Dumont.

Last, but by no means least is Snowmass. Furthest from Aspen, Snowmass has the largest skiable area, at over 3000 acres and one of the largest skiable verticals in the country at over 4,400 feet. An intermediate’s mecca, 55% of the mountain is mid difficulty terrain. The ability to ski the whole vertical on blues increases your time on the snow and therefore your ability to learn, progressing you at a faster rate. Take the Cirque Surface Lift to ski the length of the mountain right back into Snowmass Village itself.

Aspen and Snowmass Apres Ski

As you’d expect from a resort of this calibre, there’s a world class, superior feel to the off mountain activities and après scene. Whether you’re looking to rub shoulders with the rich and famous or fancy a good old tipple with your chums, there’s more than likely to be an option that appeals.

With the recent economic recession, Aspen has seen a slight shift in its target audience. No longer just the mega rich, amenities have popped up to cater for those with a tighter budget. That’s not to say you can’t experience the sumptuous food that has brought celebs back again and again. Element 47 dazzles customers with their delectable menus and world class wine menu. Steakhouse 316 offers steak, with that glamorous feel you’d expect of an Aspen establishment. For more reasonably priced food, we like Ute City. Whilst not the cheapest, it’s better value for money and still high quality. New York Pizza is a family friendly, cost effective alternative to the sky high prices elsewhere.

Après here is also second to none. We love Ajax Tavern’s outside patio where you can soak up the Colorado sun on blue bird days, as well as their live music and cheap drinks. If you want to stay in the spirit of the resort, check out the exclusive 39 Degrees Lounge. To keep the party going, either head to Escobar or check out the Cigar Bar for the only public smoking lounge in Aspen.

If this all seems a bit mainstream, or just a little on the safe side, one alternative stands out more than any other. You’ll have probably spotted the Ultimate Taxi around town, but until you take a ride in it, you won’t realise what you’ve been missing. An odd amalgamation of magic, night club, music and other weird and wonderful treats await you on a 45 minute ride around Aspen in this unique experience.

For a break from skiing, window shop in the designer stores, or pamper yourself in one of the spas like Remède in the St Regis Hotel. Alternatively, take to the skies with Aspen Paragliding, or use Krabloonik Dogsledding for a fantastic experience of the surroundings.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Aspen and Snowmass

When is the best time to ski Aspen and Snowmass?

Whilst historically not great very early in the season, the snow depth and fall builds to its pinnacle between January and March, receiving the most snow from the annual average of 300 inches per season. The height of this resort manages to maintain most of this snowfall late into the year, with many saying it isn’t actually the lack of snow that closes the resort, but lack of people wanting to ski.

Earlier in the season, the height can make for intense cold – whilst typically great piste skiing, if you fancy some fair weather riding or a goggle tan, try and go later around March. In addition, if you’re looking for a bit of back country or want to sample the in-bound off piste such as the Highlands Bowl, the best time is between the end of January and the beginning of April. The fact that most of the slopes face north means that the sun stays off them for longer, maintaining good conditions later in the day and making spring skiing all the more enjoyable. If you just want piste skiing but less queuing, just before Christmas is super – with the festive day to look forward to when you get back, you’ll be able to focus on something other than missing the Aspen slopes.

Peak Dates

Being the benchmark of quality for a ski area is a tough accolade, but this resort takes it in its stride. Not only that, but Christmas in Aspen can be one of the most magical experiences, with its extensive 12 Days of Christmas events. Browse Aspen and Snowmass Christmas ski holidays ‣

Most think Aspen is only accessible to the super rich. Whilst this is true in part, it’s become much more open to us mere mortals, and for those spending New Year in Aspen this is easily visible - from outrageously priced eating and parties, to free events around the town. Browse Aspen and Snowmass New Year ski holidays ‣

Spending the school holidays in America is always a great option, as you avoid the crush found in most European resorts. Add to this mountains catering for different skill levels and styles and you’ll find spending February Half term in Aspen is nigh on unbeatable. Browse Aspen and Snowmass Half Term ski holidays ‣

In our humble opinion, Easter in Aspen is an outrageously awesome experience. The sunny weather and altitude usually provide the perfect combination of good snow and warmth, and with a majority of northern facing slopes, conditions stay better for longer. Browse Aspen and Snowmass Easter ski holidays ‣

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Families in Aspen and Snowmass

Families have long been a vital part of Aspen Snowmass’ clientele, and with the resorts structure of 4 ski areas, all ages are catered for beautifully. With regards to skiing, whatever your skill level you’re sure to find something. If you have younger kids who are new to skiing, the Ski and Snowboard School is often regarded as one of the best in the world. Providing lessons for kids from the age of 3 up to 17, their bases are situated at Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. You can also grab a family private lesson, perfect for learning with your loved ones. In past years, Aspen has offered for children under 6 to ski for free, a fantastic incentive for families and a telling sign of how geared towards families this resort really is.

Buttermilk is a mountain paradise for beginners, with green runs peppered everywhere - usually very quiet, the ability to make your way from the top to bottom of the mountain on beginner runs can give newbies a real boost of confidence and set you up for progressing onto the more difficult terrain. Snowmass is also thought of as being a brilliant family destination, with the largest ski area around, its variety keeps most levels entertained. In addition to this, most accommodation is ski in/ski out, a great feature for those with little ones who don’t fancy a walk. One thing to keep in mind, the Ajax Mountain above Aspen town doesn’t have any beginner runs whatsoever, so make sure you have the relevant ability and confidence for more challenging terrain before you set ski here.

Alternatively, if your child doesn’t fancy the idea of skiing or is simply too young to join in, the town of Snowmass offers childcare at the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center. A kid’s paradise, this indoor childcare centre cares for those from the age of 8 weeks to 4 years, allowing you to explore the ski area or sample the delights of the villages. If you’re looking for things to do during the evening, there are a number of family friendly restaurants to keep the kids, and childish adults entertained. Brunelleschi’s is a lovely little restaurant offering beautiful Italian food. It also has a kids’ menu, where you can make your own pizza or pretzel, perfect for the budding chef or just keeping the children entertained. If they’re not tired after their meal or want a different type of exercise other than skiing, you could always pop on down to the Aspen Recreation Centre, with its swimming pool, water slides and lazy river keeping young and old alike amused for many an hour.

GroupsGroup Holidays Aspen and Snowmass

Aspen Snowmass’ options, both on and off the mountain make it a paradise for group skiing. Its four ski areas offer a variety of terrain and allow people to be able to ski in an area dedicated to their style and skill around similar skiers or boarders. Buttermilk and Snowmass are great beginner areas, with the former also housing some of the best terrain parks in the country. Aspen Highlands features what are widely regarded as some of the best groomers in the world, perfect for intermediates, as well as some hairy steeps for some in-bound, off-piste skiing in the Highlands Bowl. Ajax Mountain, looming over Aspen town, contains absolutely no beginner runs, and thus is only really for confident intermediates and above, with some fantastically scary double diamonds and tree runs to keep the more advanced skiers entertained.

This resort’s après ski and off mountain activities also make it an attractive destination for group holidays. A plethora of restaurants are sure to mean everybody’s tastes and budgets are catered for – whether you want adventurous American style food in Chef’s Club by Food & Wine, al fresco dining in Element 47, Italian in Mezzaluna or fast food in New York Pizza, the vast possibilities allow fussy members to be sated. The après ski is also varied, with options including live music in Belly Up Aspen, classy cocktails in 39 Degrees, a cigar from the humidor in the Cigar Bar or just a few end-of-the-day pints in Ajax Tavern. For those who don’t fancy skiing, boredom is a word not associated with this resort. You could survey the surrounding area from the basket of a hot air balloon with Above It All, or grab a ride on a husky sled tour with Krabloonik to name a few.


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