Aspen Ski Resort Guide
Aspen is a name synonymous with skiing in the United States.
The area consists of four main skiing resorts (Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain and Highlands) known collectively as Aspen Snowmass.
Visitors can fly into the more major centre of Denver, a four-hour drive away, or into Aspen itself.
The town of Snowmass only exists because of skiing, It was built to accommodate and serve skiers in the area. Visitors can ski-in-ski-out from this centre – if the accommodation suits – and it is a great headquarters for skiing in the area.
The town of Aspen itself was a Victorian mining community back in the day. It is not quite as convenient as Snowmass, but has free shuttles and a bit more historical flair than the other areas. It is also the best area for shopping and many other non-skiing pastimes.
Buttermilk includes a $10 million children’s centre, and geared toward families and beginners. Many intermediates prefer this area as well.
Shuttles, busses and taxis are convenient modes of travel in the area, and connect all local areas at reasonable rates – sometimes free, when travelling to and from the slopes.
On the slopes
All of these resorts are at higher altitude, and distant from the effects of large bodies of water, so snow reliability tends to be very good. Snowmass, in fact, has the most vertical feet of any resort in the United States (when Cirque poma is open), and melting is seldom a problem during ski season.
Runs vary from the intense and challenging, to long, easy cruising routes – and all of it through great scenery.
Aspen Mountain (often called by the old name, Ajax) and Highlands are best for those expert skiers seeking a challenge. Buttermilk is the best area for beginning skiers, and Aspen Mountain is an excellent choice for intermediates seeking a reasonable challenge. Since travel between each is relatively easy though, even a diverse group can find something to suit everyone.
Snowmass is by far the largest of the four, larger than the other three combined. There are three terrain parks at Snowmass as well, great for boarders and trick skiers alike.
Aspen is known for skiing, but not as much for the parties that follow it. There is a lot of socialising going on, but it tends more toward live music and get-togethers, than chest-whomping techno clubs.
For live music, try Belly Up – some big names come through there, with wide-ranging styles the likes of BB King and Snoop Dogg. Jimmy’s is another live venue worth trying out.
When hunger calls, try out the Base Camp Bar and Grill, Gwyn’s High Alpine, Krabloonik, or combine food with adventure on a snowcat dinner ride at Lynn Britt Cabin. If the cold gets into your bones, chase it out with Mexican fare at Two Creeks Mexican Café or Sam’s Smokehouse. For something high-end, check out the Caribou Club… or of course you can always go cheap and cheerful with a pizza: Up 4 Pizza is a good choice.
The area has ample shopping, a theatre, and an art gallery.