The Ski Mountain
If you’re young and rich enough and free, you’re probably going to want to ski in glitzy, glamorous Aspen. But when you’re a few years older, married and carting around a passel of little skiers, Snowmass becomes your better choice. Aspen-adjacent Snowmass doesn’t have much of a nightlife (which is okay because you’re not going out much anyway). But its plentiful ski-in/ski-out condos are the perfect place for pizza and popcorn while playing Monopoly with the kids by the fire. It offers another hard-to-refuse lure for parents – free lift tickets for children under age 7. (Other kid-friendly resorts, like Vail and Keystone, start charging kids two years younger, at age 5.)
The Mountain Experience
More of a resort and less of a town, Snowmass guests are more likely to spend the night in their condo than exploring the area. During the day, plenty of action can be found on the mountain but as night creeps in, younger couples tend to flock to Aspen for shopping and nightlife.
Snowmass Ski Terrain
• Beginner: Only six percent of Snowmass is designated as beginner terrain, but many intermediate runs are well groomed and tame enough for a coordinated learner to tackle. Most beginner trails are along the lower half of the Village Express lift. Because this area gets packed with novice skiers, it’s smart to ski the beginner trails accessible from the Midway Unloading Station of the Village Express lift, such as “Scooper,” a well-groomed and popular beginner run.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Half of Snowmass’ terrain is labeled intermediate, but that label covers a lot of ground in more ways than one. If you’re looking for runs that are wide and not too difficult, consider the Big Burn area. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider Elk Camp Peak, an intermediate-only hill that’s less traveled than the runs on Sam’s Knob. When you’re up to a challenge, try Long Shot, a short hike from the top of the Elk Camp lift. Long Shot is ungroomed and lined with bumps and trees, giving skiers the feel of backcountry skiing. This run, freckled with comfortable clearings with spectacular views of the Roaring Fork Valley, is also a great place to picnic, so you may want to pack a lunch.
• Advanced: The Cirque is Snowmass’ most challenging area. Its several headwalls and chutes funnel into steep glades marked with cliffs and rock beds. It’s smart to ski this area in the early morning to trek the fresh powder before the late risers arrive. Powderhorn, Bearclaw, and Campground are great for skiing moguls.
• Terrain Park: The resort has three terrain parks- one each for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Expert skiers can try their hand at the 22-foot “superpipe” while beginners can learn on the new 12-foot pipe.
It will cost more, but consider flying directly into Aspen/Pitkin County airport. Denver International – the best airport for cheap flights — is 211 miles away, which can translate into a day of driving in sometimes rotten, icy conditions. The Aspen/Pitkin County airport is only 7 miles from Snowmass Village. It’s also serviced by free shuttle services to Snowmass seven days a week, which means you can skip the car rental. Really. Once you get into town, the Roaring Fork Transit Authority provides free bus services in and around Aspen and Snowmass, so anywhere you might want to go is either a short walk or bus ride away.
Snowmass Village has many après options that are family friendly and reasonably priced. Popular among kids, The Sweet Life, is a 1950’s style diner with ice cream parlor and candy shop located in Snowmass Village. Also in the village is The Cirque Restaurant which features live music daily. And always a free shuttle ride away, Aspen has many bars with happy-hour specials. A favorite, Little Annie’s, offers a shot and beer for only $2.75. If you’re on a budget, order from the bar menu for hearty eats at lower prices.
A vacation haven for the rich and famous, with a quaint and authentic Western feel.
Because Snowmass has many ski-in/ski-out options, it’s best to take advantage and stay in Snowmass Village to maximize your time on the mountain and avoid commutes from neighboring towns. Most lodging options here are within walking distance to the lifts and most ski-in/ski-out condos are located just above the village, parallel to the Village Express lift. Use the Ski Lodging Deals box above and right to find Snowmass’ best Lodging choices and deals.
Skiing with Kids
Snowmass is a perfect resort to introduce kids to skiing because of its many lesson programs and beginner-specific learning areas. Elk Camp Meadows is a designated learning area for new skiers. Fenced off from the rest of the mountain, the area has a beginner lift, a family lounge, and rental area. The Four-Mountain Beginner’s Magic program includes lift tickets, lessons, and equipment rental making family planning easy. There are also programs for teens, such as, the Teens Steeps Camp where teens from 13 to 17 learn to ski advanced terrain.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost*
2 Day Lift Tickets (pre-purchase online): Adult $174-$202; Child $104-$132; Senior $156-$184 (PURCHASE NOW) Season Pass: Adult 1,599-$1,959; Child $559; Senior $1,179-$1,699 Other Passes: Flex (non holiday) Pass = Adults $879-$1,019 Special Deals: • Passes good on all 4 Aspen mountains • Seniors 70+ season pass $419 *prices reflect our best effort to gather from resort published information.
By Amanda Markert