ASPEN SNOWMASS RESORT GUIDE

Image courtesy of Aspen Snowmass

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Aspen Snowmass Resort Overview

November 2021

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 its 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.


> Check out our related post on 7 Spots Not to Miss in Aspen

Snow Reliability

Snow-Making & Grooming

Travel Convenience

Terrain Variety

Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain

Ski School

Accommodations

On Mountain Dining

Quick Take

Let's Go

  • Unrivaled variation of outstanding terrain — steep & deep, groomers, glades, backcountry, bowls, moguls of all sizes, 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)

  • Hard days on the slopes are rewarded with a range of après ski options at the top of their games

  • There's tons to do off the mountain too. Go shopping, relax at the spa, enjoy cross country or try uphilling

Hesitations

  • Harder to reach than other Colorado Rockies. Though convenient, 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

Insider Tips

  • On windy days, consider Ajax or Buttermilk, the peak of Snowmass is at 12,500 feet and Le Cirque and High Alpine can shut down or run slowly

  • 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 and hotels)

  • Uphilling is big here and a great workout. Consider investing in  skins 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

Trail Map

Snowmass Map Featured Below. For an in-depth breakdown of the terrain at Aspen Mountain vist our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included. For our Snowmass Guide click here. For our Aspen Highlands Guide click here.

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Getting To & Around

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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.

Getting To

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

Neighboring Resorts

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

  • Beaver Creek (95 miles, ~1 hr 50 mins)

  • Vail (100 miles, ~2 hrs)​

  • Breckenridge (101 miles, 2 hrs 10 mins)

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 continusouly  from 6:15 AM - 2:15 AM
    Buses have dedicated lanes and can often move faster
    See bus schedule here

  • Most hotels offer free airport shuttles to ASE

  • Airport shuttle services is 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; can can be cost-effective to arrive from DEN
    Cons: Parking is limited and costly; free lots at Snowmass base are further away​; town is congested

  • Ride shares (Uber and Lyft) operate in Aspen but service is limited​ and minimums are high ($10 - $15/ride) so we would not rely on them for getting around​

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