Image Credit: Toby Harriman
Born out of the mining booms of the late 1800s, Aspen began by sowing the seeds of the town we know today. Aspen is a special place, not because of the town or because of the world-class skiing, or because of the people. Aspen is special because it remains a place where the mind, body and spirit can flourish. Where the marriage of a posh ski resort town, a small community, and a center for art and thinking is constantly being worked on. Aspen is home to multiple ski areas, each outlined below.
Aspen mountain, or Ajax as it is known locally, backs up the town of Aspen. A 14 minute gondola ride takes you to some of the best steeps, glades and World-Cup groomers. Ajax is home to the World Cup Finals, so you can ski down the same run as some of the world’s fastest skiers.
Whether you prefer to ski steep bumps or cruise big open groomers, there is a trail for you. If you prefer to take the gondola up for just the views, it will not disappoint. Perched at the top of Ajax mountain sits the Sundeck, offering world class dining and incomparable views.
Boasting an incredible 3,339 acres, you could ski Snowmass for your entire ski trip and never get bored. Just learning how to ski? Snowmass’ Elk Meadows is the perfect place to learn and get comfortable. From Elk Meadows to the Hanging Valley Wall, there is terrain for all abilities. It is the perfect place for families to ski as everyone will find something they like.
Beyond the skiing there are great family activities to be had. The new base village has an ice rink, the tallest indoor climbing wall in the state of Colorado, and plenty of restaurants and shopping. Most nights there is live music and free s’mores by the fire pits.
Aspen Highlands is known as the “locals’ mountain,” but don’t let that keep you away. This is not the mountain of choice for beginners and has limited intermediate terrain, but for those looking for advanced or expert terrain, Highlands has it! Home to one of the most iconic in-bounds runs, Highland Bowl is an experience to be had for those up for it. Next to Elk Camp at Snowmass, Highlands has some of the best views of the 4 mountains.
Skiing at Aspen Highlands is a little reminiscent of the smaller, family owned hills we used to ski back in the East. It has small lodges at the bottom, a local feel, and great skiing.
Buttermilk is best known for being home to ESPN’s Winter X‑Games every January, and the SuperPipe is the first thing you will see when you walk up to the mountain. Don’t let this intimidate you, only a small portion of this mountain is reserved for park and pipe. Buttermilk offers some of the best beginner and intermediate terrain and can have a quiet and small feel. Lodges at the top and bottom allow you to take a break when needed and grab a quick bite or drink.
The Tiehack side of Buttermilk is a favorite of many locals. Powder stashes can be found days after a storm, and the new lift gets you back up in a hurry. It holds open groomers and tree runs that are a great spot to try out anything new you’ve been practicing or learning.
Looking to do something other than skiing or snowboarding while in Aspen? You’ve come to the right place. As part of our Aspen local guide, wanted to expand from skiing and show visitors some of the amazing off-hill opportunities a trip to Aspen would present. We’ve listed some more details on these options below.
Image Credit: CNN.com
Pine Creek Cookhouse https://pinecreekcookhouse.com
Situated at the base of the Elk Mountains, Pine Creek Cookhouse offers alpine gourmet food featuring wild game and fresh fish paired with local sourced ingredients. All the food is prepared daily and made from scratch. How great the food is, is only surpassed by the views offered from the deck of the cookhouse. Okay, so the food is great and the views are amazing, but what ties it all up into a neat bow is that there are 2 ways to access this. The first is by X‑country skiing in and the 2nd is to take a horse drawn sleigh. This is a true winter experience.
One of the best ways to explore the Colorado backcountry. In a once-in-a-lifetime experience, spend an hour or more winding through the woods far from Aspen and Snowmass. Each sled can hold 2 adults and a small child and is pulled by 8 – 10 Alaskan husky sled dogs. This unique experience will be a highlight of your trip.
Aspen Art Museum https://www.aspenartmuseum.org
Located in the core of Aspen and housed in a fantastic building built by the world renowned Shigeru Ban, the Aspen Art Museum is a great day-off activity. Filled with innovative and timely exhibitions of contemporary art, there is an experience to be had walking through this space. Take in the art, grab a bite at the café and enjoy the views from the rooftop deck.
Restaurants and Apres:
Cloud Nine — Aspen Highlands: The Apres scene at Cloud Nine is second to none. Positioned mid-way up Aspen Highlands, with incredible views of the surrounding 14,000 foot peaks, this is the epitome of luxury Apres. It is not uncommon for people to be up on the tables dancing and spraying champagne all over everyone. If you’re looking for an experience and wild time, come to Cloud Nine.
Ajax Tavern: Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, it touts a large deck facing the gondola and is usually packed with people enjoying the afternoon sun and some food and drink. The burger and fries is amazing.
Creperie du Village: The Creperie serves sweet & savory crepes, racelete, fondue, salads and more. It is a cool and unique space that as soon as you walk in you may feel as though you were transported to a small side street in Paris.
Aspen Chamber Association: www.aspenchamber.org
Snowmass Tourism: www.gosnowmass.com