It’s the darling of American ski resorts. Immortalized by the movie industry and the celebrities that vacation or own homes there. Aspen embodies the elegance and opulence of the world’s elite resorts, not just with world-class slopes, but some of the best après skiing you can find anywhere.
Combine spectacular natural beauty with state of the art amenities and you have Aspen, where lovers of fine taste go to find the most indulgent winter magic.
Aspen is a small village with around 6,700 residents, pocketed on three sides by towering peaks of the Rocky Mountain range. It’s located in central Colorado about 200 miles (322km) west of Denver. Aspen started as a mining town in the late 19th century, but today is a world famous ski resort with the most expensive real estate in the United States, as well as a playground for the rich and famous.
Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort
Aspen consists of four ski areas that are near to one another, yet unfortunately not connected. It’s a resort that caters more to the expert skier than any other, with a difficult and steep terrain riddled with black diamonds. There are no green runs, so this is not the easiest place for beginners to learn, however, there are a few ski schools with good instructors.
With 44 lifts and more than 5,200 skiable acres (2100 ha) on 12,000 foot (3658m) peaks, Aspen is not just about glam, it’s about kick ass skiing too.
- Aspen Mountain – Full of glades, bumps and steeps, Aspen Mountain is fun for intermediate as well as expert skiers who want to challenge the off piste backside. There are no easy runs on this mountain so don’t go there unless you know what you are doing. 78 trails, 8 lifts and 64 miles (103km) of runs.
- Snowmass – All by itself, it is the second biggest resort in Colorado with more than 3,000 acres (1215 ha) of land suitable for skiing, bigger than the other three ski areas in Aspen combined. At 4,400 feet (1341m), it also has the largest vertical drop in the US. 91 trails, 21 lifts and 147 miles (237km) of runs.
- Highlands – This mountain is where the experts turn for black diamond challenges and endless excitement. Some of America’s steepest and longest vertical slopes can be found there. It’s not all black diamond, however, there is a little something for everyone on Highlands. 181 trails, 5 lifts and 84 miles (135km) of runs.
- Buttermilk – The baby of the group, Aspen’s lowest and easiest mountain, is also the best place for first timers to learn the ropes. Nonetheless, as the location for the X Games, it has plenty of excitement for intermediate and experts, and especially snowboarders. 44 trails, 8 lifts and 21 miles (34km) of runs.
Aspen is famous for its nightlife, so much so that people come at all times of the year, whether they ski or not, to experience the lively club and bar scene. Of course the chance to rub elbows with the rich and famous helps. Pick up a Aspen Magazine’s Traveler’s Guide to help you locate the best establishment in town.
Aspen is also brimming with fine dining restaurants which cater to all palettes. While it can be expensive, there are plenty of places for the more budget minded.
For those who love to shop, Aspen will not disappoint. Small boutiques, name brand fashions and an abundance of souvenir shops are there for you to peruse.
Don’t let the high prices scare you. Do a little planning and this exceptional resort can be experienced without breaking the bank. Every avid skier should try it at least once in their lifetime.
When To Go
The best time to visit Aspen is during the ski season from mid-November to mid-April.
Be aware that these dates may change depending on the snow.
The winter temperatures range from 0 to 32°F (-18 to 0°C).
Getting There & Around
Aspen Ski Resort is located in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
The best way to get to Aspen is to fly into Denver International Airport and drive 198 miles (319km) west to Aspen.
The best way to get around is shuttle.
- Mid-range accommodations: $150-200
- Meals: $20-30
- Bottle of beer: $3
- Lift ticket for 2 days: $150-250
- Book your lift tickets online and in advance to get a discount.
- Buy snacks and drinks in Denver before you head out. You’ll save a lot of money from buying at the resort villages which can mark up prices by 50%.
- Check the Aspen calendar for concerts and events.
- Rent your gear at the resort. Bring your own or rent in Denver.
- Go off trail or tackle a mountain beyond your skill level.
- Go alone. Groups can save money by sharing rooms and getting discounts on tickets.
- As of 2011, Aspen has 76 trails on 675 acres 273 ha).
- The longest run in Aspen is 3 miles (4.83 km).
- Aspen is known to the Ute Indians as “The Shining Mountains.”
Feature Image Credit: Aspen/Snowmass