Although Aspen was first discovered back in 1892 as a Silver mining town, the skiing only really happened here with the demise of the Silver prices by the late 1930’s. The main town of Aspen was renovated and the largely clapperboard Victorian buildings were brought back to life and when the first ski lift was opened just after the second world war this characterful resort started to take off.
The centre of Aspen is filled with shops bars, restaurants and galleries and many of the central roads are now pedestrianised. As you would expect, there are some super hotels in the centre, but as you reach the outskirts of the main hub you’ll find more reasonably priced lodgings and of course you will also find the super chalets owned by both the rich and famous!
The main lift in the centre is called the Silver Queen gondola and this whisks you up to the main ski area of Aspen Mountain. There are 3 other ski areas nearby all of which are covered on the local lift pass. Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands are only around 3km from the centre and Snowmass is a little further being 14km. All are served by the free local bus which runs frequently. Don’t be put off by the fact that you will be travelling by bus to different mountains – all are well worth the ride and locals and celebrities alike will all be doing the same thing!
Ski Line has a huge mix of Hotels, Chalets and condos in Aspen, and the Jerome and St Regis Hotels both come highly recommended amongst many others.
We’ll cover the 3 smaller resorts in this description; however Snowmass being a much larger ski area and resort in its own right is covered on our separate resort page.
When we were last in Aspen one of the best bars to head to was the terrace at Little Nells (at the base of Aspen mountain) – where you can people watch and celebrity spot all afternoon. It also has a superb fine dining restaurant, in fact we spotted jack Nicholson and Goldie Horne in there one evening…The Ajax tavern in this area is also worth a mention. There are many restaurants come bars to choose from in Aspen and you will find something to suit most pockets whether they are short or deep!
We visited Hickory house barbeque pit when we were in Aspen which had a great atmosphere and didn't break the bank. Sysygy is also good to visit both for the food and the live jazz.
Shop, shop shop! There is an array of shopping opportunities here, whether it be souvenirs, art, boutiques or guns you will find something for everyone.
There’s a sports complex at Aspen highlands which includes a pool and ice skating. There’s a little nature reserve over to the back of Aspen which is great if you are travelling with children.
Hot air ballooning is also another alternative option and many of the mountain restaurants can be reached by pedestrians if you want to meet your more active friends for lunch.
The best place to learn to Ski is the Buttermilk ski area which has some great quiet gentle runs for building confidence. The Highlands ski area also has a whole host of easy green runs which are served by a fast chair names Exhibition. The Ski Schools in Aspen have great reputations.
If you like your pistes well groomed then Aspen is certainly the place to be. The tourist office here does an excellent job with friendly ski hosts all over the mountain who will happily show you around the pistes or offer you a hot cider at the edge of the piste on a cold day. The intermediate slopes on Aspen Mountains are steeper than its neighbors, so head here if you are a more confident intermediate.
For those of you that prefer more gentle intermediate runs head over to The Highlands and over towards the Golden Horn which has some excellent quieter slopes. Buttermilk as a good share of intermediate runs and the Blacks here are relatively easy so can be tackled by most intermediate skiers to build up confidence for the more tricky advanced runs which are to be found all over the vast Aspen ski area.
All of the mountains in Aspen offer blacks and double back diamond runs. Most skiing is through the glades and there are challenging runs to be had everywhere.
Highlands offers a perfect steep bowl with a free Snowcat ride from the top of the lifts. There’s also a lift named ‘deep temerity’ with a vertical of 520m which is great fun. The Olympic bowl area has some good mogul runs, and if you take the Thunderbowl chair from the base you’ll find some good quiet skiing.
In Aspen Mountain you can link 4 runs to make the longest advanced run from Hyrups at the top down to jackpot at the bottom.
There are 5 terrain parks in buttermilk with one stretching over 3km which is probably the longest on the world with a world class superpipe which is over 150m long and has 6.7m walls. The winter X-games are often held here.
Buttermilk is the place to be if you are new to boarding as the runs are more gentle and carving. There’s also a great terrain park here so Buttermilk is not just reserved for the beginners amongst you. Boarders in general will find a vast amount of terrain to enjoy all over the mountains, especially in Snowmass and with no drag lifts either getting around is quick and easy. There are terrain parks all over the mountains, so plenty to choose from.