ASPEN SNOWMASS RESORT GUIDE
Image courtesy of Aspen Snowmass
Aspen Snowmass Resort Overview
Aspen Snowmass has it all — four mountains within an 8.5-mile radius, a combined 5,300 acres of varied terrain, an outstanding dining scene, a happening après ski scene, accommodations fit for celebrities, world-class instruction, and it's easy to get around. Snowmass is the largest of the mountains (over 3,100 acres) and is excellent for families, intermediates, and experts. Aspen (Ajax) and Buttermilk balance one another — Aspen, with a base in the heart of downtown, has steep fall lines and lacks beginner terrain, while Buttermilk, home of the X-Games, is five minutes away and offers more moderate pitches, perfect for learning or cruising something more mellow. Just 10 minutes from town, Aspen Highlands' signature feature is long, steep bowls - the Highland Bowl requires ~45 minutes of hiking to reach the summit.
We recommend choosing one mountain for a day, but the RFTA buses allow seamless travel between all four. Aspen partners with the Mountain Collective and the Ikon Pass with 7 days on the Full Pass and 5 days amongst the four mountains as a $150 add-on for the Base Pass. Aspen Pitkin Country Airport is only 10 minutes from downtown Aspen, and many hotels offer free shuttles. There is plenty for non-skiers to enjoy.
Unrivaled variation of outstanding terrain — steep & deep, groomers, glades, backcountry, bowls, moguls of all sizes, and terrain parks.
Top-notch everything — novices to experts and even the non-skiers will have a blast.
Choose luxurious accommodations in Aspen or ski in / ski out at Snowmass (95% of lodging at Snowmass is ski-in, ski-out).
Snowmass's Elk Camp Gondola is a massive 8-person lift that takes from top to bottom so multiple families can enjoy all of the Snowmass ski area.
Hard days on the slopes are rewarded with a range of après ski options at the top of their games.
There are tons of things to do off the mountain too. Go shopping, relax at the spa, enjoy cross country, or try uphilling.
Harder to reach than other Colorado Rockies. Though convenient, the regional airport, ASE, sits between the mountains —rapidly changing weather and limited visibility lead to frequent flight delays, cancellations, and diversions to Grand Junction.
Direct flights are pricier and limited to 8 cities to/from ASE; driving from Denver is ~4 hours.
Limited options for reasonably priced accommodations.
If you’re looking for a mellow / off-the-beaten-path scene, this is not it.
Receives relatively less annual snowfall than other resorts in the Colorado Rockies.
Take top to bottom runs on Ajax and warm up in between on the Silver Queen Gondola. See our full-day itineraries to better understand Aspen's 675 acres, and they will feel much bigger.
The red cars on Aspen's Gondola have Bluetooth enabled speakers. There's a special line for them.
Don't miss the Highlands Bowl at Aspen Highlands. Have straps for the journey (you can thank us later). From Loge Peak, there is no shame in taking the snowcat for the first third before embarking on ~45 minutes of a steep, narrow, uphill climb.
Snowmass is more family-friendly, with more ski-in/ski-out accommodations (condos, hotels, and other Snowmass lodging). The snow mass ski area has a plethora of runs for children, and Snowmass Village has a number of great activities for those young skiing studs. The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster is great for kids who are desperate for an amusement park but stuck on the slopes!
Uphilling is big here and a great workout. Consider investing in skis and summiting some of the peaks on foot.
Rent from Four Mountains Sports — overnight storage and the ability to seamlessly transfer equipment to convenient spots at all four mountains at no extra cost is very convenient.
Getting To & Around
Cars are not needed (or encouraged) in Aspen. The four mountains are within an 8.5 mile radius, and shuttles to travel amongst them run regularly. Most hotels offer free shuttle service from ASE airport. Much of downtown Aspen is walkable, and shuttles are easy for going a little further.
Closest Major City: Denver, CO
Distance: ~220 miles Northeast on I-70
Travel Time: ~ 3.5 - 4 hours (varies based on traffic and road /weather conditions)
4 miles from Aspen Pitkin County Airport (ASE), ~10-15 minute drive
The four mountains of Aspen Snowmass are self-contained Southwest of Denver; the closest resorts on the I-70 corridor are ~2 hours away.
Neighbors on the Ikon Pass
Copper (120 miles, ~2 hrs 15 mins)
Other Colorado Resorts within 2 Hours
Travel by Plane
Closest major commercial airport: DEN (Denver International Airport)
~220 miles North East, ~4 hours drive
Closest regional airport: ASE (Aspen Pitkin County Airport)
~4 miles West, ~10 - 15 minutes drive
Direct service, seasonally, to 7 U.S. cities, including DEN, LAX, ORD, SFO, MSP, ATL, IAH airports
Private planes can also come in/out of ASE
Next closest regional airport: EGE (Eagle County/Vail Regional Airport)
~65 miles North, ~1 hour 20 minutes drive
Travel By Bus
The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) runs a system of free buses between the four ski areas and the airport during the winter.
Buses run continuously from 6:15 AM - 2:15 AM.
Buses have dedicated lanes and can often move faster.
See the bus schedule here.
Most hotels, like the Viceroy Snowmass, offer free airport shuttles to ASE.
Airport shuttle services are available to/from DEN and EGE; check Vail-owned Epic Mountain Express.
Summit Express offers private charters, good for families and groups.
Travel by Car
Cars are not needed (and tend to be a hassle) in Aspen / Snowmass.
Pros: Rental cars are easily accessed from ASE airport; it can be cost-effective to arrive from DEN
Cons: Parking is limited and costly; free lots at Snowmass base are further away; the town is congested
Rideshares (Uber and Lyft) operate in Aspen, but service is limited, and minimums are high ($10 - $15/ride), so we would not rely on them to get around.