Aspen is one of the best known ski resorts in the world and its fame is certainly warranted. With four distinct mountains and one of the coolest and classiest ski towns around, it really does have something for everyone.
It’s an old mining town with over 100 years of history which still seeps from the streets and buildings, providing the perfect complement to its glitzier side. The town is home (one of them at least) to the rich and famous and it exudes wealth and class.
But there’s much more to Aspen than glitz and glamour. Its true appeal lies in the four mountains which surround it. Each one is different and you can take your pick depending on your ability, or even your mood!
Buttermilk is the beginner’s mountain but is also home to the epic terrain park and superpipe which plays host to the annual Winter X Games.
Aspen Mountain (or Ajax) is famed for its steep advanced terrain and looms above the town daring its inhabitants to come and take it on. It’s a relatively small mountain but there are still 76 trails and a descent of 1000m to get stuck into. Its close proximity to the town makes it a popular choice with locals. If you can find yourself a local guide, ask them to take you to the ‘shrines’ to Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver, Marilyn Monroe and Jerry Garcia (to name but a few) which are hidden among the trees.
Snowmass has the biggest ski area and offers a massive expanse of varied terrain to suit all levels of boarder. It’s the furthest away from Aspen town and has its own resort base which offers an alternative to accommodation in Aspen itself.
Aspen Highlands is probably the most impressive and iconic of the four, and advanced riders will want to hike to the 3,777m summit for the epic descent into Highland Bowl. The rest of the mountain offers everything from expert terrain to groomed cruisers, along with stunning views of the Maroon Bells.
As you’d expect from the home of the X Games, Aspen has some world class terrain parks. The X Park itself is immense and consists of 25 advanced and expert features including the famous 22 foot Zaugg cut superpipe which is ranked the best in the world. The slopestyle course is kept roughly the same as it is for the X Games and includes 10 jumps ranging from 40 to 70 feet. However, while it’s great to stare in awe at the sheer scale of the X Park, mere mortals will probably want to hone their skills on one of Aspen’s tamer parks. Buttermilk Mountain has another 4 parks: S3 Park for beginners, Teaser Park and Chuck’s Park for intermediate to advanced riders, and the more advanced, Jacob’s Ladder Park.
There are also 3 parks at Snowmass: the beginner’s Lowdown Park, Little Makaha Park for intermediates, and Snowmass Park for advanced to experts. In addition to a pipe and superpipe, Snowmass Park also includes jumps to rival those in the X Park and a great range of jib features including wall rides and a staircase.
Once the lifts stop, the fun continues in town with Aspen’s renowned après scene and nightlife. There are loads of bars and restaurants, and despite the resort’s reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, there are options to suit every taste and budget. 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, right at the base of Aspen Mountain, is a popular choice for après, or for live music head to Belly Up. One of our favourite restaurants is Elevation which serves great food at very reasonable prices.
Nightlife in Snowmass is much quieter but there are some great bars and restaurants there too and you can always head to nearby Aspen if you fancy a livelier night out or a change of scene.
Aspen manages to balance traditional charm, modern chic and laid back attitude perfectly, and tops it all off with one of the best mountains in the world. Make that four!Snowboarding in Aspen,