Aspen is a glorious winter playground where the rich and famous hobnob with ski enthusiasts, both looking for excitement and an adventure-filled getaway. The beloved mountain town offers an abundance of snowy outdoor adventures and ample indoor coziness.
Unique experiences and unparalleled scenery will make your Aspen getaway unforgettable. Four mountain complexes, breathtaking Rocky Mountain views, delectable culinary bites, and luxurious stays come together to make Aspen, Colorado, the winter vacation of your dreams.
Your Aspen experience can be super lux and upscale or fashionable ski-bum focused, depending on your travel style. Either way, you can hunt for the perfect stash, enjoy fabulous cuisine, and experience fun winter activities.
The Aspen/Snowmass ski complex, comprised of four ski areas, has everything you need for your ultimate winter getaway. From double black diamonds to beginner slopes, every skier and snowboarder will find their favorite run, backcountry bowl, or hidden stash.
Snowmass, Aspen’s most well-known ski area, offers 3,339 acres of skiable terrain and one of the biggest vertical drops in the United States, a whopping 4,406 feet. Imagine the excitement of traversing that downhill run. The rush of hitting a steep grade peppered with bumps will certainly get your adrenaline pumping.
Snowmass has a few beginner trails to get your snow mojo up and running. However, the majority of the runs are geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.
2. Aspen Mountain
Aspen Mountain — known as Ajax to the locals — is an intermediate and expert ski area with blue, black, and double black diamond trails for your skiing and snowboarding adventure.
Ajax has spectacular views of the Rockies, runs right into downtown, and is a local favorite for lunchtime ski runs.
3. Aspen Highlands
At Aspen Highlands, you will find locals and visitors enjoying the mountain views and powdery snow this ski area is known for. The Highlands is perfect for intermediate and expert skiers and boarders looking for a challenge.
The trail map for Aspen Highlands lists four types of runs: blue (difficult), black diamond (very difficult), double black diamond (expert only), and E.T. double black biamond (insanity runs). As you can see, there are no beginner trails at Aspen Highlands.
Buttermilk is the best place for beginners in Aspen; many of Buttermilk’s trails are rated easy. If you are new to skiing, start your vacation here. Later, you can move on to an intermediate mountain to hone your skills. Buttermilk is the perfect family-friendly mountain.
5. First Tracks
Virgin powder untouched by skis awaits at Snowmass’s First Tracks. Skiers and snowboarders with solid skills are invited to join the staff in the first run of the day on select days of the week. Play at being an Aspen insider and be the first to cut tracks in the freshly groomed snow or fluffy, new powder. Experience the thrill of having the entire mountain mostly to yourself during your early-bird run.
It is a unique treat to be out on this huge mountain enjoying the quiet beauty of a nearly solo run. Contact the Snowmass Ticket Pavilion to make a reservation.
6. Alpine Coaster
Have you ever wondered what riding down a luge would be like? Now’s your chance to get that feeling (with the dangerous aspect eliminated!). The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster allows you to experience the sensation of speeding down the track, banking tight curves, and watching the trees whistle by as you ride a tandem coaster car. The mile-long track gets you up to about 28 miles per hour — not quite a luge speed, but fast enough for a thrilling ride.
Ride the Breathtaker at night for an eerie, speedy adventure illuminated only by your coaster car light and the moon.
Explore the Aspen/Snowmass area on foot with a guided snowshoe tour. Aspen Center For Environmental Studies’ naturalist guide will take you on a 2.5-mile trek through a peaceful winter wonderland setting while discussing the ecology of the area. It is a fun combination of exercise, education, and entertainment for skiers and non-skiers alike.
9. John Denver Sanctuary
The John Denver Sanctuary is a memorial to the legendary country singer, composer, and guitar player. His love for Colorado and the wide-open country was ever-present in his music. This small park is a tribute to Denver’s love for the natural world. It is a nice spot to stop and reflect upon the beauty of the gifts Mother Nature allows us to enjoy.
Breathe in a meditative breath and contemplate the glory of Denver’s beloved Rocky Mountains.
10. Maroon Bells
The Maroon Bells area is one of the most visited and hiked scenic areas in the White River National Forest. The picturesque Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak are two of Colorado’s 58 14ers (mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet).
The Maroon Bells are a challenge to hike in the summer months, even for the most experienced climbers. In the winter, they are best viewed from a distance at Maroon Lake. The crystal-clear lake is accessible by Moon Creek Road. When the weather is good, you can drive up or take the shuttle; in the winter, you’ll need to get creative.
Cross-country skiing, snow biking, snowshoeing, or hiking with crampons will get you to Maroon Lake. If you want to ride, the T-Lazy-7 Ranch offers a Maroon Bells snowmobile tour. The 2-hour tour takes you through the breathtaking backwoods scenery of the White River area. Single and tandem snowmobiles are available, and driving instructions are provided.
Enjoy a stroll through the downtown area, where you could easily dine, drink, and shop for days. Aspen’s understated elegance is evident everywhere, particularly in the storefronts.
The epitome of elegance, the Prada Aspen, is only one of many luxury shops. For amazing deals, stop by The Little Bird, a consignment shop where you can find Gucci, Chanel, and other designer names to fill your closet. For the discerning shopper, Pitkin County Dry Goods carries casual clothing that makes an elegant statement.
Restaurants In Aspen
Apres-ski spots, fine dining, and cozy bars dot Aspen’s landscape. Whether you are enjoying an elegant sit-down dinner or a nosh at a mountain peak restaurant, Aspen restaurants offer amazing ambience and a great dining experience.
If you enjoy dive bars, you will love the Red Onion in downtown Aspen. Serving patrons since 1892, the Red Onion is a popular hangout for Aspen’s in-the-know crowd. You never know who you will run into; business insiders, celebrities, and athletes frequent this local hub. Grab a seat at the bar for some friendly conversation, a drink, and a yummy nosh.
Betula Aspen serves expertly crafted upscale cuisine. The rack of lamb with caponata, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted garlic is heavenly. The pan-seared Colorado trout with artichokes, cauliflower, and pickled onions is a delightful rendition of a local catch.
Pro Tip: Ask for a seat on the porch for a luxuriously casual meal.
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro
Warm, gooey, and oh-so yummy, raclette and fondue are fortifying after a morning on the slopes. At the Top of the Cloud Nine Lift in Aspen Highlands is Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro. This ski-in, ski-out lunch spot is a favorite stop for hungry skiers. Order several plates to share while you swap downhill run stories. It’s the perfect midday pick-me-up. On a clear day, you can dine with a breathtaking, mountain top view.
Resorts In Aspen
Finding a place to stay in Aspen is easy, but deciding how you want to visit can be challenging. Options include ski-in, ski-out stays, downtown hotels, and private rentals.
The Little Nell
The Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain and downtown Aspen are both at your fingertips when you stay at The Little Nell. This five-star hotel offers fine dining at Element 47, as well as the Wine Academy program, spa services, and an amazing staff ready to serve you. The Little Nell will ensure your luxurious Aspen getaway is perfect.
Snowmass Ski-In, Ski-Out Properties
Snowmass offers a listing service where you can research and compare all of their ski-in, ski-out properties. With options like the modern Limelight Hotel Snowmass, you will find the perfect stay for your snowy vacation.
Pro Tip: Hop on the free shuttle from Snowmass to the city bus stop. From there, you can take a bus to downtown Aspen. Enjoy exploring the downtown area, and then ride back to Snowmass and leave the driving to them.
For more on Aspen/Snowmass, read:
- 10 Must-See Family-Friendly Aspen Vacation Rentals
- 16 Fantastic Things To Do In Snowmass, Colorado This Summer
- Everything You Need To Know About Hiking Maroon Bells In Colorado
After you enjoy your Aspen getaway, discover your next ski destination by learning about the other great ski resorts in Colorado for every level and interest.