Aspen is a glorious winter playground where the rich and famous hobnob with ski enthusiasts, both looking for excitement and an adventure-filled getaway.
Things To Do In Aspen
In the winter, Aspen offers all things snowy, an abundance of outdoor adventures, and indoor coziness. Unique experiences and unparalleled scenery will make your Aspen getaway unforgettable.
Here’s what to do on a visit.
Experience Four Aspen Mountains
Aspen’s four mountain resorts have 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.
Aspen Snowmass, the most well-known resort, offers 3,339 acres of skiable terrain and the second-biggest vertical drop in the United States, a whopping 4,406 feet. Imagine the excitement of traversing that downhill run. 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.
Aspen Mountain -- known as Ajax to the locals -- offers 64 miles of skiable trails supported by eight lifts. Ajax is an intermediate and expert mountain 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.
Aspen Highlands offers 84 miles of trails with five lifts. There are no beginner runs. You will find locals and visitors enjoying the view and powdery snow this complex has to offer. The Highlands is perfect for intermediate and expert skiers and boarders looking for a challenge.
Buttermilk is the best place for beginners in Aspen. With 21 miles of skiable trails supported by five lifts, 35 percent 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.
Leave The First Tracks Of The Day
Virgin powder untouched by skis awaits at Aspen Snowmass’ First Tracks. Skiers and snowboarders with solid skills are invited to join the staff in the first run of the day. 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.
Ride The 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.
Have A Powder Adventure
Aspen Powder Tours will take you on the wilderness snow adventure of your life. Pack up your ski and boarding gear and jump on the snowcat, where you will be driven to the ungroomed backcountry. Your group’s personal guides will show you where to find expansive open bowls, pristine meadows, and relaxing glades as you spend the day exploring Aspen Mountain’s quiet side.
You can also sign up for a private guided experience at Aspen Snowmass with an expert guide. The experience includes priority lift access to help you make the most of your time on the mountain. You will enjoy exploring the mountain's gifts with a knowledgeable local leading the way. You can book a half- or full-day tour for up to five people. All tours are tailored to your abilities.
Reflect At The 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.
Get Up To The 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.
Go Dogsledding At Twilight
Dogsledding is a fun and energizing adventure. During the day, watching the winter landscape pass by as you glide over snow-packed mountain passes is an experience you won’t soon forget.
The New Krabloonik Dogsledding offers a unique twist on dogsledding fun: a twilight ride. Traveling through the Rocky Mountain backcountry at dusk is a magical, romantic experience. The play of shadows on the snow in the setting sun creates beautiful scenery framed by the forest backdrop.
Best 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 Colorado rack of lamb with caponata, pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, and roasted garlic is heavenly. The Snake River wagyu flat iron served with sauteed mushroom risotto and aji panca bearnaise will have you dancing. 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 Aspen Highlands at the Top of the Cloud Nine Lift 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.
Where To Shop In Aspen
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.
Best 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 the downtown are both at your fingertips when you stay at The Little Nell. Offering fine dining at Element 47, 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.
From Main Street lofts to ski-in, ski-out lodges, Airbnb has plenty to offer. With a wide selection of Superhosts to choose from, you can be sure of a comfortable home-away-from-home stay. The Snowmass Mountain Crestwood Ski-In, Ski-Out sleeps five and features a pool and a hot tub. Another great option is this modern downtown apartment for two.
Pro Tip: Hop on the free shuttle from Aspen 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.
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.