Aspen: An Exhilarating Winter Wonderland for All
Aspen. It’s a name synonymous with luxury and glamour; with celebrities, and private jets, and fur-lined jackets. But don’t be fooled. If your holiday style leans towards budget not Burberry – indeed, if you prefer martinis over moguls – Travelplan and Aspen have you covered. Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this charming winter wonderland offers a picturesque landscape that captivates visitors year-round, on the slopes and off.
Aspen’s four magnificent interconnected mountains – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass – offer world-class skiing and breathtaking scenery, not to mention runs that cater to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.
Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax, is the crown jewel of the region. Rising dramatically above the town of Aspen, it offers exhilarating runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders. As you cruise down the slope, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains.
Aspen Highlands is a mecca for expert skiers seeking to conquer some of the most challenging and rewarding terrain in the area. From steep and deep glades to thrilling bowls, adrenaline junkies will find their bliss here.
Buttermilk’s the more laid-back cousin – perfect for beginners and families, or anyone looking to dial down the adrenaline a notch or two. Its gentle slopes and excellent ski schools provide an inviting environment for newcomers to the sport, ensuring a positive and enjoyable introduction to skiing.
Snowmass, is the largest of the four mountains, and caters to all skill levels, making it a favourite among families and groups with diverse skiing abilities. With its vast terrain, Snowmass offers an extensive network of trails that cater to everyone, from first-timers to seasoned experts.
Gentle, wide-open slopes are perfect for honing skiing and snowboarding skills, while the thrilling glades and exhilarating chutes will keep adventurous and advanced riders interested, in particular the iconic Hanging Valley Wall and the Cirque.
Beyond the exceptional skiing opportunities, Snowmass also offers a range of other winter activities for non-skiers or those looking to mix up their snow adventure. From snowshoeing and snowmobiling to snow tubing and scenic gondola rides, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Best Time of Year to Ski in Aspen
Aspen’s ski season typically runs from mid-December to early April. The peak months of January and February offer the most reliable snow conditions, making it the best time to plan your ski trip. During these months, the Rockies receive abundant snowfall, creating the perfect canvas for skiing and snowboarding adventures.
That said, the resort’s state-of-the-art snowmaking facilities ensure consistent coverage throughout the season, further enhancing the skiing experience. It’s worth noting that early season snow conditions can vary, but once the snowfall settles, you’ll be treated to pristine powder and well-groomed trails.
The après ski scene
Where to start? This small town at the base of the mountain is home to more than 80 restaurants and bars, so choosing just where to lay your cut-glass tumbler at the end of a long day on the powder is a hard task.
Cloud 9 delivers on its promise: the Swiss-style cabin set atop the mountain right near the Cloud 9 lift. Its music thumping champagne parties are legendary – but be warned, you will have to make your way down the mountain afterwards.
Ajax Tavern is another popular on-mountain destination, combining an incredible location with delicious food and drink . Make a beeline for one of the most famous high-country patios at the end of your run near the Silver Queen Gondola. Choose between truffle fries or double cheeseburger (or both!), and join in on the champagne-sploshing frivolities. Keep an eye out for the Clicquot in the Snow by Veuve Clicquot specials.
CHICA ASPEN – the relatively new hotspot in Gondola Plaza – serves up Latin American cuisine plus an incredible apres-ski scene starting at 2pm every day.
We haven’t forgotten about the kids: The Collective in Snowmass Base Village is a hub for family fun. Cruise around the ice-skating rink, or send the kids inside to the expansive game lounge, complete with table tennis, foosball, an interactive wall mural and much more.
At the more bougie end, all the big European fashion houses represent, including Chanel, Gucci and Balenciaga; Aspen’s consignment stores stock the same at a fraction of the price. Catch a contemporary art exhibit at the Aspen Art Museum, soothe sore muscles in the bubbling pools of Glenwood Hot Springs, attend one of the many film, music and arts festivals – there’s even an annual Bacon Appreciation Day to mark the close of the season.
Is Aspen Good for Beginner Skiers?
Absolutely! Contrary to its luxurious image, Aspen is an incredibly family-friendly destination that warmly welcomes beginner skiers. Buttermilk and Snowmass both offer gentle slopes and a relaxed atmosphere to build confidence for little ones and beginners.
For those new to the sport, the local ski schools are the perfect place to start. The ski schools at Aspen are renowned for their world-class instructors who specialise in teaching beginners. The safe and supportive environment, not to mention unending patience and encouragement, allows for newcomers to come to grips with the basics at a comfortable pace. Children, in particular, are catered for with tailored programs and facilities designed specifically for young learners. Aspen Skiing Company and Aspen Snowmass Ski and Snowboard Schools are recognised for their exceptional family programs, ensuring that parents and children alike can enjoy their time together on the mountain.
That said, Aspen caters to skiers of all abilities, from first-timers to seasoned experts. While it offers gentle slopes for beginners and intermediate skiers to enjoy, it also boasts some of the most challenging terrains in the world.
Intermediate skiers will find a vast array of blue and blue-black runs across the mountains, providing an ideal balance of challenge and fun. These intermediate runs allow skiers to improve their technique while exploring more diverse terrain.
For the more advanced skiers and snowboarders, Aspen’s reputation for steep and deep terrain is well-deserved. High alpine bowls, challenging glades and powder-filled chutes await those keen for an adrenaline hit. The vast acreage of expert terrain in Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain promises an unforgettable experience for the daredevils.
Inclusivity and Family-Friendly Atmosphere
The celebrity resort destination is surprisingly inclusive and family-friendly. Beyond the upscale boutiques and high-end restaurants, Aspen offers numerous options for travellers with varying budgets.
Accommodations range from luxurious ski-in/ski-out resorts to more affordable hotels and vacation rentals that cater to families and budget-conscious visitors. Many offer family-friendly amenities – think pools, jacuzzis and even tennis courts – and a wide range of dining options means even the fussiest of little (and big) eaters is catered for.
This variety allows families to plan a dream winter vacation that suits their preferences and financial constraints.
If you’re tired of barreling down a mountain, Aspen also offers a range of off-slope activities, making it an ideal destination for families seeking more than just skiing. The Aspen Snowmass resort complex features snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating and tubing, providing endless entertainment for all ages. Additionally, the Aspen Recreation Center offers indoor and outdoor pools, perfect for some relaxing family time after a day on the slopes.
Ready for your Aspen adventure?
We’re here to help! From the gentle slopes of Buttermilk to the challenging terrain of Aspen Highlands, the region offers something for everyone, ensuring an unforgettable winter adventure. Embrace the magic of this enchanting winter wonderland and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Plan your journey to Aspen with us today, and experience the ultimate skiing and snowboarding adventure amidst the majestic Rocky Mountains.