Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort Review

Aspen Snowmass has everything you could ask for, from skiing and snowboarding to mountain biking and hiking for you to tailor your own personal adventure.

This world class resort offers the complete ski resort experience. Although Aspen gets a wealth of publicity because the rich and famous have made it their place to visit, the real draw is the variety terrain that it is able to offer across the four mountains that make up the resort. On top of this is the bonus of its dry Colorado powder and the almost consistently ideal weather.

Where? From Denver International Airport, Aspen can be found 220 miles to the southwest. There are plenty of frequent transportation options available between the airport and the resort, including rental cars for those who want to drive. A cars, however, is not a necessity. Once you are safely ensconced in Aspen you will find a there are variety of buses and shuttles that move around town and between all the ski resorts.

It’s also possible to fly into Aspen-Pitkin County Airport which is only around three miles (5km) from Aspen and six miles from Snowmass.  The only downside of flying directly to Aspen is the strong risk the airport may be closed when adverse weather conditions strike.

Skiing and Snowboarding

If you are on a tight budget Aspen is not a recommended place to ski or snowboard. For those who can afford it, however, the quality of the terrain, the impressive resort infrastructure and the world-class service makes all the expense worthwhile.

Aspen’s main offerings are the skiing and snowboarding opportunities. To deliver this, Aspen Snowmass is effectively four separate resorts within a nine mile (15km) radius.

They are:

  • Aspen Mountain (AKA Ajax, which dominates the town of Aspen and is the oldest of the four areas
  • Snowmass, which lies 20 minutes away by car or bus and is the largest of the four areas, actually bigger than all the others combined
  • Aspen Highlands, just north of Aspen
  • Buttermilk Mountain, which lies at a low altitude and is perhaps the most family-oriented ski resort of the four ski areas. It also renowned for its world-class terrain park.

The resorts may be close together – they are all covered on the same lift ticket – but they are not directly connected, except by the free shuttle buses that run between them.

As a whole, the Aspen Snowmass resorts provide an enormous skiing area of 2,146 hectares (5,303 acres). This includes 329 marked trails, 43 lifts, five terrain parks and many half pipes. There are a variety of trails to appeal to all levels of sportsmen and women. Plenty of them are wide groomed tree runs, powder bowls, moguls along with gated backcountry skiing.

Some people are deterred by the areas glamorous reputation, but this is truly an experienced skiers’ paradise with lots of steeps and plenty of white knuckle runs.

People worry that Aspen is so popular it becomes overcrowded but it is actually so vast you can easily find for yourself many hundreds of secret powder hideaways among the 2,146-hectare terrain.  The powder quality is also very good, and there is an average of around 300 inches snowfall every season.

Other attractions. Along with the skiing and snowboarding Aspen’s other highlight is its nightlife and there are ample opportunities to unwind after the slopes have closed. Aspen is well served by all sorts of clubs, lounges and bars with a variety of live music acts you’d expect in a big and happening city.

In addition, Aspen Snowmass’s plethora of off-slope activities includes ice skating, hot air ballooning and paragliding. You can also relax in day spas or by soaking in the hot springs.

If you need to give skiing and snowboarding a rest but you want to stay on the slopes there are also other activities available, such as snowshoeing. And those who are also looking to shop, Aspen has plenty of retailers who sell designer clothing, gifts, and ski and snowboard gear.

Getting to Aspen

The most convenient airport is Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) which is served by direct flights from Delta, United and American.  There are also services into Eagle County Regional Airport, from American, Continental, Air Canada, Delta and United Express

If arriving by car, Aspen is 220 miles from Denver which is about a 3.5 hour drive via the I-70 West to Glenwood Springs. From Grand Junction, the journey takes 2.5 hour driving east on the I-70, connecting with State Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs. Aspen is about 70 miles from Eagle/Vail and takes about one hour and 40 minutes driving from there on the I-70 West to Glenwood Springs.

Staying in Aspen

As a historic ski town Aspen has a variety of accommodation that suits most tastes and budgets. There are hotels, motels, condos, lodges, as well as bed and breakfasts, and many vacation rentals.  Perhaps the biggest decision to make is which base area to stay at.  Aspen and Snowmass are the two most popular.  If your family is all about the skiing, consider Snowmass.  If you are the type who enjoy a bit of nightlife and non-ski activities, go for Aspen.  Consider a vacation rental which will help you spread out a bit and control your meal costs.

Snowmass has a village at the base of the mountain. This has been well planned, ensuring that 95% of it allows guests to ski in and ski out from their hotels or even their condominiums.