Ski & Snowboard Holidays, Destinations & Deals

Aspen Snowmass, COLORADO

Aspen Snowmass, first of all, is four mountains rolled into one resort – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. Many visitors choose to fly directly into Aspen Airport (ASE) alongside the jetsetters and celebrities in their private jets.  Denver (DEN) is the closest major and international gateway, some 354 km (222 miles) away.

 WHY ASPEN SNOWMASS?

Because each mountain has its own personality, character and terrain features, Aspen Snowmass is the quintessential ski resort. It is an iconic destination. In addition, all four mountains are accessible on one lift ticket. Accommodation choices range from budget to five star luxury, at both the vibrant Aspen Town, a true Colorado gem; and the ski-in, ski-out family-friendly Aspen Snowmass.

Aspen Mountain

In full flight with a bird's eye view of Aspen Town
    In full flight with a bird’s eye view of Aspen Town. Photo: Aspen

Aspen Mountain majestically rises above the town of Aspen. This mountain is world renowned for its black-diamond terrain, glades, bumps, and steeps. Equally, its reputation for après-ski in Aspen is phenomenal. It’s a party town – from intimate bars, to five star restaurants, with some regular celebrity spotting opportunities too. Because the town of Aspen strikes a rare balance between cosmopolitan and luxury, whilst maintaining the heart and soul of a genuine old-style silver mining town, it has huge appeal to skiers and non-skiers alike.

Aspen Highlands

Nearby is Aspen Highlands – also known as the local’s mountain. It’s a combination of: jaw-dropping views, wide-open runs, some serious steeps. By comparison to the other three mountains, Aspen Highlands is generally recommended more for the intermediate and expert skiers.

Aspen Snowmass snowboarder
           No friends on a powder day. Photo: Aspen Snowmass

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is most of all, a snowboarder’s playground. The mountain is the ultimate riding destination for beginners and families, with easy and friendly terrain. Experienced riders should not be fooled, Buttermilk also plays host to the big guns, during the ESPN Winter X Games each year; testament that this mountain is truly a rider’s paradise, for all levels of riding experience.

Snowmass

Making up the four, is the jewel of Aspen – Snowmass. By far the largest of the four mountains, the cliché: ‘something for everyone’ rings true. Snowmass boasts a choice of cruisers, glades, steeps, terrain parks, and half pipes; paired with a world-renowned Kids Ski School. Most of all, Snowmass is family utopia, because of the expansive choice of ski-in, ski-out accommodation for every budget. Snowmass is super kid friendly on and off snow.

There is easy access pedestrian and shuttle access around Aspen Town and Aspen Snowmass. The resort also provides a continuous complimentary shuttle service between the four mountains day and night.

Without a doubt, Aspen Snowmass has something for everyone, and therefore you should consider this Colorado gem.

 

TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT ASPEN SNOWMASS

#1. Something for everyone – some of Colorado’s best steep, big mountain, challenging terrain, inbound backcountry experience, and cruisy wide groomers. The flexibility to mix it up day in, day out on one mountain or all four.

#2. Snowmass is best in class for its kids ski school and family focus on and off the snow.

#3. For the après ski set and foodies – enjoy the après ski social scene in Aspen Town, the Oasis pop up champagne bar on Aspen Mountain, and the iconic Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro on the summit of Aspen Highlands. These are just a few of the fabulous food and wine must do’s in Aspen Snowmass.

#4. Buttermilk is home to: the Winter X Games, The Crazy Train Park and X Games super-pipe – a winter playground for terrain park lovers.

#5. For something that is uniquely ‘Aspen’ – ski the glades on Aspen Mountain and find the shrines paying respect to legends such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and more.

WHERE TO STAY

There is a huge variety of accommodation to suit all budgets and requirements; and is available at either Aspen Town or Snowmass. There is no accommodation at Buttermilk or Aspen Highlands.

Snowmass is the larger ski area with much of the accommodation designed for families. True ski-in, ski-out locations are a big factor when making Snowmass your choice for accommodation. Choose from self-contained  condominium or apartment style accommodation, budget lodgings, through to six star luxury hotel, chalets, and condominiums.

Aspen Town is a historic silver mining town full of personality and flavour. Its legendary après-ski reputation is in full flight at Aspen town and to a lesser extent Snowmass.

Aspen is known for being the Rocky Mountain playground of the rich and famous, but this authentic mountain town offers far more than just glitz and glamour.

Whether you’re looking for down-to-earth lodging, a five star luxury hotel, or something in between; Aspen Town and Snowmass has you and your family (including pets) covered.  Lodging and accommodations in Aspen Town and Snowmass include condominiums, bed and breakfasts, a wide range of hotel properties and larger home rentals.

To ensure you choose accommodation that’s right for you, it helps to understand the mountain layout. Download the village map here.

 

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RESORT FACTS

DESIGNATED TRAILS:

Mountain #Trails Beginner Intermediate Advanced Extreme
Aspen Mountain 76 0 % 48% 26% 26%
Snowmass 96 5% 48% 17% 30%
Aspen Highlands 122 18% 30% 16% 36%
Buttermilk 44 35% 39% 21% 5%

Annual Snowfall:

Aspen Mountain 300 in 762 cm
Snowmass 300 in 762 cm
Aspen Highlands 300 in 762cm
Buttermilk 200 in 508 cm

TERRAIN: RESORT AREA

Aspen Mountain 675 ac 273 ha
Snowmass 3332 ac 1348 ha
Aspen Highlands 1028 ac 417 ha
Buttermilk 470 ac 190 ha

VERTICAL DROP:

Mountain Longest Run Vertical Drop
Aspen Mountain 3.0 mi / 4.83 km 3267 ft / 996 m
Snowmass 5.3 mi / 8.5 km 4406 ft / 1343 m
Aspen Highlands 3.5 mi /  5.63 km 2030 ft / 618 m
Buttermilk 3.0 mi / 4.83 km 3635 ft / 1108 m

NUMBER OF LIFTS & UPHILL CAPACITY:

Aspen Mountain 8 10,755 people per hour
Snowmass 20 32,358 people per hour
Aspen Highlands 5 6,500 people per hour
Buttermilk 8 6,900 people per hour

NORDIC SKIING:

The Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System offers some 60 miles (96.56 km) of free cross-country ski and snowshoe trails suitable for beginners to experts. The network of trails connect the communities of Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt.  

NIGHT SKIING:

Not offered.

SEASON DATES & OPENING HOURS

Aspen Mountain & Snowmass November – April
Aspen Highlands & Buttermilk December – April

WINTER HOURS OF OPERATION: 9.00 am – 3.30 pm Note: These times are provided by the ski resort and can vary based on external conditions, day of the week, school, and public holidays.

 

TERRAIN PARKS

Buttermilk is absolute heaven for riders; the home of ESPN Winter X games, a boarder’s paradise, spoilt for choice with seven separate terrain parks:-

BUTTERMILK MAIN PARK: A treasure trove of terrain parks with the #1 super-pipe, the main stage for the ESPN Winter X Games — dozens of jumps, logs and rails along its 2-mile, top-to-bottom length from the top of Little Teaser to the mountain base.

X PARK: consists of some 25 advanced and expert features and is home to the famous 22-Superpipe. It’s here that it’s make-or-break for the professionals of the sport.

S3 PARK: consists of around twenty intermediate and beginner-level features.

TEASER PARK: consists of roughly 10 intermediate and advanced features

CHUCK’S PARK: is more for intermediate and advanced level riders.

JACOB’S LADDER PARK: boasts 12 advanced features including four jumps (ranging from roughly 20-35 feet), two hip jumps and up to six jibs including a recycled feature from the Team Shootout at Snowmass.

MIDWAY AVENUE PARK: the newest park, has: a banked slalom course and beginner and intermediate features, an ideal place for newcomers to practice and improve.

Over at Snowmass, riders will find three dedicated parks with two 12-foot beginner half pipes, intermediate terrain park, and a 22-foot super-pipe:-

LOWDOWN PARK: consists of beginner and low-intermediate-level features, including a beginner halfpipe. The run’s gentle grade makes it easy to hike.

MAKAHA PARK:  offers all low-intermediate and intermediate features, ranging in size from medium to large. There are about 25 features in total, including all shapes of boxes and rails. Great area for learning new tricks and working on progression.

SNOWMASS PARK: This park is for the advanced and expert riders, offering the Snowmass Superpipe (22-foot pipe cut), with some 50 features ranging in size from medium to large flat boxes ,rails, down flat downs and combos; to bonks, wall rides, stair case, and a host of all new jibs.

GETTING THERE


Transportation to and from Aspen Pitkin County airport (ASE) is simple and affordable via: ground shuttles, taxis, limousines, or local buses. It is only a 10 minute drive from Aspen town.A complimentary and efficient fleet of airport shuttle buses connects all four mountains, operating a continuous loop shuttle. More details: Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

Denver (DEN) is the closest major airline international hub. Regular shuttles, and private limousine transfers service Denver International Airport to Aspen and Snowmass.

DRIVE: There is free parking at the base of Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. At Snowmass there is a choice of free parking and longer-term paid parking. At Aspen town, most parking is metered.  If you are driving, Highway 82 is the main route connecting the Roaring Fork Valley into downtown Aspen. Snowmass village connects to Highway 82, via both Brush Creek Road and Owl Creek Road.

Read the latest information about road conditions, closures, travel advisories and more.

TAXI: Uber is now available in Aspen, along with other taxi companies.

BIKE: Aspen is extremely bike friendly.  You can rent a bicycle from We-Cycle, a point-to-point, bicycle transportation system. Check out a bike from any of the 20 stations, ride it to another station close to your destination. Available May-October.

SNOW HOW TIP:  Some hotels provide free transportation to/from the airport, please check with your hotel.

SNOW SCHOOL

All four mountains offer a diverse and interesting variety of lesson packages.

Being the family-friendly mountain, Snowmass, has a lesson program to suit all levels of experience. The terrain is ideally suited for all lesson types, giving the instructors great flexibility to take group and private lessons to the right runs to suit your comfort level.

SNOW HOW TIP: Snowmass is also home to the amazing Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, a multi-level 2300 square meter purpose built childcare facility. It’s amazing – a multilevel, 2,300-square-meter childcare facility in Snowmass Village brings the great outdoors inside with Colorado-themed play rooms .

Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard School will take you to the next level, giving your confidence to explore more terrain, and improve your skills . Whether it’s Aspen Mountain’s glades, bumps, and steeps; Buttermilk’s terrain parks, or Aspen Highlands’ big-mountain skiing you will learn the special techniques and tactics appropriate for the terrain and conditions.

For the powder hounds, the pros will find you the untracked stashes and share their secret spots as you explore each mountain.

Buttermilk, reputedly one of the best beginner mountains in North America, is great for building confidence for those learning to ski or snowboard. It’s also home to The Hideout for little ones 2 ½ – 4 years of age, blending first turns with indoors play.

SNOW HOW TIP: A fabulous Aspen advantage is that your instructor will ski with you at one or more mountains, providing continuity in your instruction.

Womens Edge Program Designed especially for women. A rewarding, fun filled four days of skiing or riding with friends and the best pros on the mountain.
Buttermilk Shredding If shredding in the terrain park is your ambition, you’ve found your mountain.
Divas Ski Week Aspen Snowmass Ski School will tap in to the psyche of what allows each woman to perform at her best, whether she is mastering a powder run down Aspen Mountain, taking on a new challenge at work, raising a family or defining her next chapter in life.  A week long program
Bumps for Boomers What a blast this program is – a lesson program that was designed to quickly teach intermediate-level Baby Boomer and senior skiers how to ski moguls and how to ski powder. Learn to ski with confidence and control, and within your physical limitations. A must do.

KIDS PROGRAMS

Aspen Snowmass is the resort of choice for countless families from around the globe because of the exceptional Children’s programs and childcare available at Snowmass and Buttermilk.  The instructors perfectly blend playtime with ski instruction for young children as they gain confidence and have loads of fun. The resort provides quality child care for infants and toddlers ages 8 weeks to 4 years.

RENTALS

With 9 locations across the four mountains, Four Mountain Sports is your go-to store for your ski and snowboard rental gear. Their free ski storage and inter-mountain transfer service adds even more value. Organizing your rental gear is convenient and easy. Equipment is top of the line, and you can swap your gear anytime you like at any location.  Choose from beginner, standard, and premium/demo packages for skiers and snowboarders.

SNOW HOW TIP: For ultimate convenience, order your rental ski clothing in advance, and it will be delivered directly to your hotel with SuitYourself. Choose the latest in designer gear, including a ski jacket, pants, goggles, and gloves with free shipping both ways. When you are done, just stick them in the prepaid mailer bag and drop it off at the front desk.

RETAIL THERAPY

Aspen town is a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking for: major luxury brands, the mid-range chain stores, sportswear and gear, artisan, or boutique stores. Aspen town provides everything you will need for a great vacation, within walking distance to most accommodation.

On a slightly more moderate scale Snowmass offers a great variety of: retail therapy, alpine fashion and local products.

One of the reasons we like Aspen Snowmass is because you feel like you are part of the celebrity set, window-shopping along the pedestrian malls.

Retail stores with apparel and equipment for skiers and snowboarders, après ski gear, gifts and  souvenirs

Equipment hire and rentals – skis, snowboards, snowshoes, Nordic gear, helmets, clothing

Boot fitter – expert team guarantee comfort & fit     √
Destination stores with local artisan goods
Kids gear, candy store and souvenirs
Repairs and tuning open daily
Luxury Brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Prada
APRÈS SKI

Aspen and après-ski are synonymous with each other. Many visitors come to Aspen because of its après-ski reputation and some come solely for this lifestyle and never even hit the slopes!

The après scene is amazing. With more than 100 restaurants across the four mountains and two towns, there are culinary and bar offerings to suit all: palates, budgets, and guests.

You are spoilt for choice. Whether it’s: a romantic dinner for two; a hearty kid-friendly venues; a five star degustation gourmet, or the pop up French champagne bar on the summit of Aspen mountain.  It really doesn’t get any better than Aspen après-ski.

We love the on-mountain unique dining experiences that Aspen Snowmass offers. You can enjoy an exquisite Western mountain dinner high up on Snowmass after the lifts close. You travel to and from the cabin in snowcats, then savour a four-course menu of delicious New American cuisine while live music entertains you throughout the evening. Make sure to include this on your holiday bucket list.

The reputation of Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro on Aspen Highlands is world-renowned.  You’ll feel like you are in the Swiss Alps, with fondue, raclette, and the sunny outdoor deck infamous for its ski-boot dance parties that can occur at any time!

Ullr Nights is an indoor-outdoor party for all ages at Elk Camp that occurs every Friday night during the height of ski season at the family-friendly Snowmass. Guests can enjoy an exceptional dinner, plus have fun tubing and snow biking under the lights with live music and a toasty warm bonfire.

#OurStory – EP04: Champagne Bar from Aspen Snowmass on Vimeo.

THINGS TO DO

ON MOUNTAIN

Here are our four of our favourite on-mountain activities:-

Ambassador Mountain Tours Complimentary mountain tours  are offered daily at all four mountains at 1030am and 130pm.
First Tracks Make the most of the overnight grooming and new powder snow at Aspen Mountain, and get ‘first tracks’.
Snowshoe tours Depart from Aspen Mountain every day at 10am and 1pm.
Naturalist tours A free tour to learn about the high-alpine environment at Snowmass — winter wildlife and habitats, tracking, avalanches,  and other interesting signs of life that go unseen.  Daily at 11am and 1pm, 45 minute duration.
 More information regarding these and other activities, available here.

OFF MOUNTAIN

For those days when you feel like a change of pace, or perhaps you have non-skiers in your group

Yoga for skiers Yoga for skiers at 11,212 feet. Start your morning with a gondola ride up Aspen Mountain;then  enjoy spectacular views from the mountaintip, and join the Aspen Shakti team for sun salutations at the Sundeck.
Snowcat dinners Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro hosts weekly snowcat dinners throughout the winter season.
Snowshoe tours Daily from Aspen and Snowmass, 10am and 1pm.
Q & A

Is altitude sickness likely?

It is highly recommend acclimatizing for a day before skiing. High altitude, dry air and time change are all factors that can increase fatigue. Drinking lots of water and using a humidifier at night will certainly help. Plus, portable oxygen tanks (the size of a water bottle) can be purchased at local pharmacies and mountaineering stores.

Can I buy groceries?

Yes, because Aspen is a well-established town, you have a variety of grocery stores available. The down-valley towns of Basalt, Willits/El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs also offer plenty of shopping opportunities for stocking your food pantries.

What is the average temperature?

Winter in Aspen typically begins in November and lasts through April, with January having the lowest temperatures of the year. Temperatures can range from (-13C – 8C) or 8-46 degrees Fahrenheit. The crystal clear blue-sky days can often be colder than cloudy snowy days because the clouds trap in the air circulation.