Everything You Need to Know for the Vacation of a Lifetime!
Aspen Snowmass ski resort is known for its breathtaking terrain, luxury accommodations, and lively atmosphere. A ski trip to Aspen is more than just a vacation; it’s a winter wonderland experience. From the iconic Aspen Mountain to the family-friendly Snowmass Mountain, there are slopes for every level of skier. As experienced locals in Aspen, we have curated the ‘Ultimate Aspen Ski Trip Itinerary’ to guide you through a perfect week at Aspen Snowmass.
One Week in Aspen Itinerary
Day 1: Your Arrival
Arrive in Aspen in style with a limo service on arrival. Once you reach your accommodation, relax by the fireplace with hot cocoa (or a glass of wine) and magnificent views of the mountains.
Day 2: Aspen Mountain Skiing and Après
Start your first ski day in Aspen with breakfast at Bear Den in Downtown Aspen. We highly recommend the French toast board!
After breakfast, head towards the Aspen Mountain gondola. We recommend Four Mountain Sports across the street from the mountain for rentals. View our Aspen Winter Guide for more information on the four mountains at Aspen Snowmass. Our favorite runs on Aspen Mountain include Ruthie’s and The Aspen Glades for fresh powder and beautiful tree lines.
After a day of exhilarating skiing or snowboarding on Aspen, return to the gondola base to après at Ajax Tavern. They are known for their wagyu cheeseburger and truffle fries. The cauliflower gratin is also a must! Finally, sip on a glass of champagne on their outdoor patio and watch skiers come down the hill.
Enjoy dinner at the renowned Italian restaurant, Casa Tua, for a lively ambiance and fantastic food to round off a perfect first day in Aspen.
Day 3: Champagne Showers at Aspen Highlands
Enjoy waking up to another beautiful day in Aspen. For a gourmet start to the day, our concierge team can book a private chef-prepared breakfast for you to enjoy. From classic breakfast platters to homemade bagels, our trusted chefs can prepare a breakfast to fuel your ski day ahead.
Today you will ski the locals’ favorite mountain, Aspen Highlands. For expert skiers, the Highland Bowl is the pinnacle of North American skiing, with some of the steepest runs in Colorado. Not for the faint-hearted, skiers must hike up to an hour along a mountain ridge to reach the Highland Bowl summit, to be rewarded with panoramic views and steep powder runs. See this Local’s Guide to the Highland Bowl. We recommend skiing off the Loge Peak chairlift for groomed blue runs.
Visit the famous Cloud Nine restaurant for lunch to witness their champagne shower parties for yourself. For food, enjoy exquisite alpine cuisine, including fondue, in the chalet-style restaurant. Since they are known for their Veuve Cliquot spraying parties starting at 2 pm, prepare to walk out smelling like champagne! Cloud Nine is a popular restaurant, so bookings are required.
After an exciting day on the slopes, enjoy a Japanese dinner at Matsuhisa Aspen for our favorites, crispy rice with tuna and a ‘gardener’ cocktail.
Day 4: Hit the Snowmass Slopes
Venture to the biggest of the four mountains in the area today, Snowmass Mountain. With wide open trails, secret powder tree lines, and plenty of restaurant options, Snowmass is a great day for all. Our favorite runs are off the Elk Camp chairlift (above the Elk Camp Gondola), where you can enjoy views of the Maroon Bells from the top. If you are visiting in Spring, read our guide to Spring Skiing in Aspen Snowmass.
For lunch, visit Lynn Britt Cabin, a mid-mountain restaurant with stunning views and a Western ambiance. With an outdoor patio, bar, and DJ booth for sunny days, enjoy a charcuterie board in the sun while watching skiers ride down the Velvet Falls run. Reservations are required for lunch seating, so make sure to book!
Relax in the hot tub of your Aspen vacation rental for the late afternoon before dining at Catch Steak for dinner. We recommend the sushi and seafood options alongside the steak! Surf and turf in the mountains, anyone?
Day 5: Relax, Revive, and Retail Therapy!
Today, relax in a much-needed break from skiing! Start your day with breakfast from Unravel Coffee for the best coffee in town. Then, venture to O2 Spa for a relaxing spa treatment. Indulge in a beautiful local spa’s custom massage, facial, or other skin treatment. If desired, book a yoga class in the O2 studio with incredible views of Aspen Mountain.
For a lunch break between shopping and spa treatments, visit the French Alpine Bistro for delectable food in a romantic setting. We recommend the gruyère cheese fondue with the charcuterie addition for a unique experience.
There’s no better way to celebrate a rest day than some retail therapy! Visit the renowned western store Kemo Sabe for their specialty wool hats or Pitkin Country Dry Goods for sophisticated boutique fashion. For other non-skiing activities, view the 7 Best Things to do in Aspen Besides Ski.
For an early dinner, visit Clark’s Aspen for their happy hour menu from 3-5 pm Monday through Friday. The happy hour menu includes half-price burgers, martinis, and 50c off oysters. The clam chowder is also a delicious way to warm up in the snow.
No Aspen ski trip is complete without attending a concert at Belly Up. The intimate venue is renowned for hosting world-class musicians on its stage. Often sold out, make sure you book tickets in advance.
Day 6: Mountain Pancakes and Starry Sleigh Rides
Famous in Aspen, Bonnie’s restaurant on Aspen Mountain is an absolute must for breakfast. Known for their oatmeal pancakes and gorgeous views, start your day with breakfast here.
For your second day skiing on Aspen Mountain, venture towards Lift 1A for steep lines and bumps. For a great groomed trail, ski top-to-bottom on the Copper run.
Stop at Sundeck for lunch at the top of the gondola for fantastic cafeteria-style food, outdoor seating, and views your family and friends will envy. We recommend a bowl of chili!
Enjoy a mountain experience like no other tonight with a sleigh ride to Pine Creek Cookhouse. Then, travel under the stars via horse and carriage to an incredible chalet restaurant at the base of the Elk Mountains. We recommend hiring a car service to drive you as no taxis or shuttles are available from the restaurant.
Day 7: Snowmobiling and a Steakhouse Dinner
Start your day at the popular Paradise Bakery with delicious pastries, cookies, muffins, coffee, and gelato. This bakery is take-out only, so wander around town while sipping your morning cappuccino or sit on one of the outdoor benches outside the bakery or in the various walking malls in Downtown Aspen.
Next, take a snowmobiling adventure to the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographic areas of North America. An experienced guide will lead you through the White River National Forest to the base of Maroon Lake. Warm up with hot chocolate as you gaze at one of the most picturesque peaks in the world.
Tonight for après, visit the Snow Lodge inside the St Regis Aspen. The same team as The Surf Lodge, The Snow Lodge is a winter supper club, lounge, and après venue. Listen to live music in the lounge or courtyard with specialty cocktails in a beautifully designed space.
For dinner, visit a local and visitor favorite, Steakhouse 316. This restaurant combines elegant mood lighting with a classic steakhouse menu. From lobster tail pairings to tomahawk rib eyes, this is a must-visit for steak and seafood lovers. For dessert, don’t pass on the bread & butter pudding.
Day 8: Final Morning
For a final gourmet breakfast, visit Element 47 at The Little Nell hotel for a continental or full ‘Nell’ buffet. From berry parfait to duck chilaquiles, there are delectable options for all.
After a magnificent Aspen ski trip, we hope you depart with unforgettable memories and experiences!
How much does it cost to go skiing in Aspen?
For the latest lift tickets/equipment/lesson pricing information, visit the official Aspen Snowmass website.
What is the best month to ski in Aspen?
Any month between December-March is fantastic in Aspen. December is the most popular month for its vibrant holiday festivities and historically abundant snowfall. January is an excellent month for quieter crowds and still fantastic skiing. March is the start of spring skiing which means warmer temperatures and many outdoor events such as concerts and patio après.
Is Aspen skiing good for beginners?
Aspen Mountain has no beginner trails, only intermediate and expert. However, Buttermilk and Snowmass mountains have fantastic beginner terrain. We also recommend booking a lesson if it’s your first time skiing.
Is Aspen worth skiing?
Aspen was voted the #3 ski resort in the West by Skimag.com for our “gold standard for American skiing, nightlife, and lifts.” So, the answer is yes! Aspen is worth visiting for an incredible Colorado ski vacation.
Off-season is a great time to visit Aspen (and Snowmass), and if you are a local it is also a fantastic time to relax a little bit after a busy summer and to truly enjoy some of the benefits of living here. Come the end of August, the Food and Wine Classic is long gone, the high-profile Aspen Institute-hosted events have passed, and the Aspen Music Festival performances have faded out, but that does not mean that the fun is all over until winter.
We could, of course, easily add to this list, but here are 5 fun things to do in Aspen in September – Edited for 2022
Snowmass Balloon Festival
Check out the Snowmass Balloon festival (September 16th through September 18th), just a few miles down the road in Snowmass Village. This annual extravaganza showcases beautiful hot air balloons coordinating and competing in several events, and just generally showing off for anyone who cares to watch.
The competitions include a race to see who can fly the farthest down the Roaring Fork valley within a set time frame, a contest to see who is the most accurate in maneuvering over targets on the ground and hitting them with weighted baggies, and a “Balloon Dance” where balloon pairs compete to see which pair can keep a flagging tape intact between them as the float along.
For its 47th edition, the balloon festival will be back to operating as usual after a couple of socially distant events over the last two years. This year, spectators are encouraged to drive in, hike up, bike around or walk right up to take in the sights right from where the balloons take flight!
Fall Color Viewing
Towards the end of September, Mother Nature puts on a show worth reveling in, as the Autumn colors pop out. This spectacular explosion of red, orange, and yellow leaves on the hillsides and in town is not to be missed and is truly one of the best parts of being in Aspen in September. We suggest taking a drive up Independence Pass, Castle Creek Road to Ashcroft, Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells, or Owl Creek Road between Aspen and Snowmass to view this magnificent scene in its full splendor!
We recommend hitting Independence Pass to view the fall colors, but also to do so much more. You can make a great day of adventure along the pass if you plan it right!
Independence Pass is considered one of the most beautiful roads to drive in the United States, if not the world. More than this, it is filled with day activities, serene lakes, trails, and areas to explore. Stop off at the Devil’s Punchbowl for a swim, and even jump into the pool at the base of the waterfall! Just after this we highly recommend wandering through The Grottos. These amazing natural ice caves are a wonder in themselves and such a great area to relax by the river! If you’re feeling very active, try hiking up to Grizzly Lake, probably our favorite lake hike in Aspen. Then take in the views at the Continental divide at the top of the Pass.
If you’re looking to view the fall colors from the comfort of your own home, then take a read through our guide to the best Vacation Rentals for Viewing Fall Colors in Aspen and Snowmass.
Elevated Entertainment on Aspen Mountain
Catch some of Colorado’s best bluegrass musicians before summer ends. Every Sunday until the end of September, Aspen Snowmass will be showcasing bluegrass bands at the top of Aspen Mountain. What a great way to spend your Sunday evening, with great views, food, drinks & live music. Tickets are free if you have already purchased a sightseeing ticket.
You can also take in the views on Aspen Mountain through other great experiences. Ending in September, Aspen Shakti hosts Yoga on the mountaintop multiple times a week. Relax your mind and body in a surreal setting overlooking the Elk Mountain Range. Afterward, reward yourself with lunch at The Sundeck. Amazing food and expansive views are available from anywhere in the restaurant.
Explore the outdoors with ACES
There is such a vast amount of explorable nature around Aspen & Snowmass and it can seem a bit daunting to go into the wild by yourself.
ACES ( Aspen Centre for Environmental Studies) has been dedicated to preserving, studying & educating people about the ecosystems that surround Aspen.
ACES has been offering guided tours, hikes, and nature education in Aspen for over 45 years. They have activities happening daily and weekly, ranging from group hikes to farm tours and even yoga! The perfect outing – exploring the endless outdoor beauty of the White River National Forrest, while learning from our local guides and naturalists. One of our favorite activities is birding at Northstar Preserve.
Lost Forest Snowmass
With Snowmass being the largest ski mountain, it only makes sense that it turns into an adventure-packed Summer escape. Hidden amongst the trees at Elk Camp on Snowmass Mountain, is the Lost Forest.
The Lost Forest contains miles of hiking and biking trails that meander across the mountain. Take a hike along one of the many creeks or even stop off and go pong fishing. Explore your wild side on the tree-line obstacle course & climbing walls. You can even take a ride through the trees on the alpine coaster. Enjoy all this & more for the perfect Summer family day out.
Bonus: Aspen Saturday Market
Catch the last weeks of the Aspen Saturday Farmer’s Market! This year the market will run until October 9th, stopping just before Aspen’s fall “off-season”. Running since 1998 the Farmer’s Market pedestrianizes Hyman and Hopkins ave in downtown Aspen and is a fantastic way to start any Saturday.
Open from 8:30 AM til 2 PM the Saturday market offers a fantastic selection of fresh Colorado produce, local artisan products, and food trucks to snack at! The market hosts vendors from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley – more information on the event and its vendors can be found here.
For more information about fun things to do in Aspen in September please visit the aspenchamber.org website, or give us a call at (970) 205-9960. You’ll also want to check out our post about the “Top 5 Things to Do in Aspen & Snowmass in The Fall.”
NEED ACCOMMODATIONS OR FULL-SERVICE VACATION PLANNING?
Whether you are looking for a place to stay, concierge services, or a complete vacation plan, we are eager to assist. Allow our highly experienced and skilled staff to help you make the most of your trip to Aspen or Snowmass – fall, winter, spring, or summer!
Contact one of our luxury concierges today at (970) 205-9962
, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hosting your next Aspen adventure!
Summer in Aspen, Colorado is filled with live music, stunning weather, and premier culinary events. From outdoor concerts on Snowmass Mountain to classical music events to the renowned Food & Wine Classic, there are events for the whole family. Summer in Aspen highlights our small mountain town’s big heart. See a breakdown of Aspen Summer Events (2022) below:
See Artists like Stevie Nicks Perform in a Breathtaking Setting
JAS Aspen June 23rd-26th and September 2nd-4th
Hosting both a June experience and Labor Day Experience this year, JAS Aspen Snowmass is sure to be a success. This year’s Labor Day artists include a spectacular lineup of Stevie Nicks, Leon Bridges, and Chris Stapleton.
World-Class Theatre for the Whole Family
Theatre Aspen starting June 27th
With a variety of summer shows planned, Theatre Aspen is sure to be a delight. The summer season kicks off on June 27th with ‘Gypsy’. Other events include the Sound of Music concert, Cabaret series, and the American classic ‘Jersey Boys’.
A Free Live Concert with a Sunset Backdrop
Snowmass Free Concert Series June 16th– August 25th
The Snowmass Summer Concert Series is a local favorite. A free concert on Fanny Hill in Snowmass with new artists performing every week. With food and drink options in the Snowmass Mall, make an evening out of this every Thursday night beginning at 5:30 pm!
Organic Food and Handmade Colorado Goods
Saturday Farmer’s Market beginning June 11th
With local vendors from all around Colorado, visit the weekly farmer’s market in Downtown Aspen for delicious baking, fresh flowers, and artisan products. Open from 8:30 am – 2 pm every Saturday, look out for the local favorite kettle corn or empanadas.
A Historic Festival for Classical Music Lovers
Aspen Music Festival and School June 30th– August 21st
This classical music festival has been delighting Aspen since 1949. The 2022 Season includes daily music events at the Benedict Music Tent, the Wheeler Opera House, and Harris Concert Hall. Featuring talented students from across the United States, the Aspen Music School is a renowned summer event.
The Event of the Summer for Foodies and Wine Lovers
Food and Wine Classic June 17th-19th
The Food & Wine Classic is a favorite Aspen Summer event, with guests traveling all over the world to experience it. The event includes wine & spirit tastings, renowned celebrity chef demonstrations, and panel discussions. Previous year’s featured chefs and curators have included Martha Stewart, Eva Longoria, and Guy Fieri.
Spark Creativity and Discussion from World-Renowned Leaders
Aspen Ideas Festival June 25th – July 1st
Located at the Aspen Meadows, the Aspen Ideas Festival returns in 2022 for discussions, lectures, and debates from various world leaders. This festival is an opportunity to personally explore innovative ideas in science, politics, the environment, art, business, and foreign policy. This year’s speakers include Justin Worland, a Senior Correspondent at Time Magazine, and Manjusha Kulkarni, the Executive Director of AAPI Equity Alliance.
Celebrate Independence Day in Aspen Style!
4th of July Celebrations
The 4th of July is a spectacle in Downtown Aspen with a community parade, live music, street stalls, and a car show. The streets are blocked off from car traffic and filled with celebrations. Of course, the parade is one of the busiest Aspen summer events, and for good reason. This day brings together locals and visitors alike to honor Independence Day in a breathtaking setting
Test your Endurance in this Epic Mountain Race
Audi Power of Four Trail Race July 9th
An endurance race like no other, the Audi Power of Four Summer event includes 10km, 25km, and an incredible 50km ultra race across all four mountains. An opportunity to experience the terrain of Aspen Mountain, Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass and test your limits.
A Spectacular Summer Event in the Beauty of Snowmass
Snowmass Balloon Festival September 16th-18th
An iconic festival in Snowmass, the Balloon Festival includes three morning balloon launches from 7-9:30 am and the Friday evening Balloon Glow event. The balloons launch from Snowmass Town Park, and spectators can drive up, walk or bike to see the balloons up close.
Support Local Businesses while Sampling Delicious Food & Wine
Snowmass Wine Festival September 16th-17th
2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Snowmass Wine Festival, held annually at the Snowmass Town Park. Featuring wine tastings, food samples, and live music with the backdrop of Snowmass Mountain. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village, every dollar from tickets benefits local organizations.
Enjoy Live Music and Stunning Views of Aspen Mountain all Afternoon
Bluegrass Sundays July 10th– September 25th
Aspen Mountain’s Sundeck restaurant plays host to free weekly Bluegrass live music events. With lawn games, great food & drinks – this is an afternoon activity for the whole family. Purchase a Silver Queen Gondola ticket and head up to the top of Aspen Mountain every Sunday this Summer.
2022 Summer Events Calendar
Saturday Farmer’s Market – Downtown Aspen- Every Saturday from June 11th from 8:30 am until 2 pm
Snowmass Summer Concerts- Fanny Hill, Snowmass Mountain- Every Thursday, June 16th– August 25th, doors open at 5:30 pm, and music begins at 6:30 pm
Bluegrass Sundays- Sundeck, Aspen Mountain – Every Sunday from July 10th– September 25th from 12 pm to 3 pm
Theatre Aspen- Hurst Theatre, John Denver Sanctuary- June 27th– September 15th
Aspen Music Festival & School- Benedict Music Tent- June 30th– August 21st
Food and Wine Classic- Wagner Park- June 17th-19th
Jas Aspen June Experience- Downtown Aspen- June 23rd-26th
Aspen Ideas Festival- Aspen Institute – June 25th– July 1st
Independence Day Parade- Downtown Aspen- July 4th
Audi Power of Four Race- Aspen Mountain – July 9th
Aspen Art Festival- Downtown Aspen- July 16th and 17th
Audi Snowmass 50 Mountain Bike Race- Snowmass Mountain- August 6th
Jas Aspen Labor Day Experience- Snowmass Town Park- September 2nd– 4th
Snowmass Wine Festival- Snowmass Town Park- September 16th– 17th
Snowmass Balloon Festival- Snowmass Town Park -September 16th-18th
There’s always so much to do in the summer here that it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening. Read through our guide on the best things to during the sunny season in our little mountain town. On top of all of the great Aspen summer events, we cover everything you need to make the most of your vacation. Culinary tips, incredible summer activities, the great outdoors, and much more!
For the finest experiences Aspen Snowmass can offer, let our Aspen luxury concierge team curate the ultimate luxurious vacation. We can accommodate any special requests and have years of experience creating the most indulgent and relaxing vacations for our clientele. When it comes to providing amazing concierge services, there are no limits to what our team can help you experience. Whatever your heart desires, we can help bring you to it. Whether it be private services on any of the four ski mountains, or finding the best place in town to escape and relax, we offer the most exquisite amenities and local experiences throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
We have formed a list below of the finest luxury Aspen concierge experiences:
Private Chefs: An Indulgent Aspen Dining Experience
Celebrate a family vacation or romantic getaway with a private chef at your rental property in Aspen. The dining scene is Aspen is second to none and that isn’t limited to the restaurants of downtown. Aspen has a plethora of fantastic chefs and catering services to suit any need. Our concierge team has access to the best private chefs Aspen has to offer. From casual family dining to catered brunch to full-scale luxury dinner parties. We can help accommodate any personal chef requests.
Private Snow Cat to Cloud Nine: Champagne with a View
Experience one of Aspen’s most luxury party restaurants with a private dinner at Cloud Nine. A snowcat will take you up Aspen Highlands mountain to the Cloud Nine cabin, a terrific experience by itself. Known for its range of fine champagne, your dinner will be a luxury affair of alpine cuisine in a breathtaking location. Cloud Nine also offers lunch dining reservations which include infamous champagne spraying sessions.
Stargazing Dom Perignon tours: The Most Luxury Way to see Aspen Mountain
For one of Aspen’s finest experiences, a summer Stargazing Tour to the top of Aspen Mountain is the perfect experience. Your astronomy expert guide will take you on an off-road adventure in a new model Audi or Jeep to the mountain top, fitted with blankets, binoculars, and light bites. With options to include a bottle of Dom Perignon, this is one of Aspen’s most luxurious summer activities.
Snowmobile Tours with Custom Chef Lunch at a Private Cabin
A private snowmobile tour with your own chef-created lunch is an unbeatable travel experience in Aspen. Take in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains on your guided snowmobile tour, no experience necessary, leading to a gorgeous private cabin for lunch. Our luxury Aspen concierge team highly recommends this private tour!
Kemo Sabe VIP Shopping Experience: World Famous in Aspen
If high-end shopping is what your heart desires, look no further than a VIP experience at the world-renowned Kemo Sabe Western Store. Kemo Sabe is a long-standing gem of Aspen. Known both locally and nationally as a provider of the finest high-end western apparel, in addition to being a great place to spend your afternoon. Our luxury concierge can organize a personal shopper experience with access to Kemo Sabe’s private cocktail bar and a custom hat-making experience.
Powder Tours: An Unbeatable Alpine Adventure
To truly experience the magic of Colorado snow, book a private powder tour with a ski pro whilst you are in Aspen. This is a one-of-a-kind experience to ski untracked powder on the backside of Aspen Mountain. This luxury experience includes snowcat transportation and an exquisite chef-prepared lunch.
Custom Aspen Picnics: An Incredible Summer Experience
For a luxury Summer experience, look no further than a custom charcuterie picnic with local company Aspen Picnics. This deluxe Aspen experience can be arranged at either the beautiful Smuggler Mountain in Downtown Aspen or at your rental property for a more private event. With options that include champagne, local restaurant food, or dessert boards- this is an Aspen experience like no other.
Private Dinner and Tasting at The Little Nell Wine Cellar
For an exquisite dining experience, our Aspen concierge can book a private dining and wine tasting dinner at Aspen’s top-rated hotel, The Little Nell. The executive chef will curate a custom dinner pairing for your wine tastings. The team of world-renowned sommeliers will make sure your whole experience is luxurious.
At-Home Spa Services: The Best Way to Relax
After a long day on the ski slopes, come back to a massage in the privacy of your rental home. Our Aspen Concierge works with numerous professional spa technicians and masseuses in the Aspen area who can accommodate the luxury spa atmosphere in an at-home setting. Our spa therapists are experienced, professional and friendly, ensuring the ultimate comfort in your at-home spa appointment.
Other Aspen luxury concierge options:
At-Home Ski Rental Fittings
Our Aspen concierge team can schedule local company ‘Ski Butlers’ for at-home ski gear fittings. They will fit all your equipment, including boots, skis and poles, in the comfort of your vacation rental, so you have more time to spend enjoying the slopes.
Ski Lift Ticket Home Delivery Service
Instead of spending time in the long queues of the ticket office, we offer a complimentary lift ticket delivery service. This means your lift tickets can be ready and waiting for you when you arrive to your luxury rental. We can also arrange private or group lessons and guided tours for your ski vacation.
For luxury transportation while in Aspen, our concierge can hire a private driver for your stay. With varying luxury car options and sizes, this is the most convenient way to get around Aspen. We can even arrange the limo service to pick you up from the private airport tarmac, so you can step off the place and into your vacation stress-free.
Private Maroon Bells tours
During the Summer months, Maroon Bells is Aspen’s most visited destination. This Mountain landscape is one of the world’s most photographed areas, and it’s easy to see why! Let our team arrange a private Maroon Bells tour to drive you to and from the scenic spot.
Paragliding is an incredible way to view the alpine scenery of Aspen Snowmass. With both Summer and Winter options, paragliding requires no prior experience and the local guides have extensive experience. Glide off either Aspen or Snowmass mountain and prepare to be amazed by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
Luxury Dining Reservations and Experiences
Our Aspen concierge has extensive knowledge of dining in Aspen and Snowmass. Let us organize all your dining reservations whilst on vacation, giving custom recommendations and fulfilling any special requests. Aspen has a wide range of dining options, from casual bites to fine dining. Our concierge team can also
Looking for Even More? Contact Us
We could go on forever about all of the services and luxury activities in Aspen that our concierge can provide. If you are looking for something even more specific and tailored to your vacation needs, we’ve got you covered. We work with every possible luxury service in town, as well as having relationships with Aspen’s luxury hotels and retreats. Perhaps you even need a personal trainer or personal assistant to help you with your busy and active Aspen vacation? Your needs can be endless and that’s why provide you with a concierge service without limits.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with any ideas, plans, or requests that you may have.
Furthermore, if you are a local homeowner or rental provider, Aspen Luxury Vacation Rentals offers property management services, to help you get the most out of your home. . Our professional property managers have over 25 years of experience in the Roaring Fork Valley, and offer exceptional service to any property, no matter how small or large.
Aspen Luxury Vacation Rentals
What To Do in Aspen if You Don’t Ski (or Snowboard)
Not everyone who visits Aspen Snowmass in the winter wants to ski. Although skiing or snowboarding may be the main attraction to our town in the winter, there are still so many other entertaining activities in Aspen and Snowmass. Especially in a ski resort, you may be thinking what can you do in winter besides ski? Below, we’ll take you through various on-mountain activities and other things to do in Aspen in winter besides ski.
Table of contents
- What To Do in Aspen if You Don’t Ski (or Snowboard)
- Explore More On Aspen’s Snowmobile Tours
- Snowcat Chauffeured Dinner Rides
- Get Active On A Snowshoe Tour
- Get An Adrenalin Rush on Snowmass Snow Tubes & Alpine Rollercoaster
- Experience A Magical Sleigh Ride
- Ice Skating Under The Lights
- Take In The Sights On The Silver Queen Gondola
- Looking for even more to do in Aspen this winter? Check out our full Winter Guide for Aspen and Snowmass
Explore More On Aspen’s Snowmobile Tours
Guided snowmobile tours are an unforgettable adventure activity to explore more of Aspen’s beauty. Snowmobiling is safe for all ages and abilities, with tours led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. With tour options through the famous Maroon Bells, Snowmass backcountry, or exquisite lunch tours- there are options for the whole family to enjoy! See our recommended tours with T-Lazy 7:
Snowcat Chauffeured Dinner Rides
For a magical Colorado dinner experience, embark on a snowcat journey to Aspen Highlands’ Cloud Nine or Snowmass’ Lynn Britt Cabin. Both restaurants are highly popular and well known for their atmospheres. Cloud Nine is an infamous restaurant in Aspen known for its Veuve Clicquot parties every single day. Lynn Britt cabin is a family-friendly option in a cozy Western-themed cabin. The snowcat rides allow non-skiers to enjoy these mountain-top experiences in iconic restaurant locations. See both Snowcat dinner tours here.
Get Active On A Snowshoe Tour
For an outdoor fitness activity that doesn’t involve getting on a pair of skis, snowshoeing is a fantastic option! Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Mountain offer guided snowshoeing tours, with a focus on Aspen’s history and the Rocky Mountain ecology. Tours are led on gentle terrain, suitable for all abilities. Alternatively, you can snowshoe to the renowned Pine Creek
Cookhouse restaurant for elegant Mountain dining. Snowshoeing is a great way to immerse in Aspen’s beautiful scenery and a fun option for all. For tickets see here.
Get An Adrenalin Rush on Snowmass Snow Tubes & Alpine Rollercoaster
Snowmass Mountain offers snow tubing and an alpine rollercoaster at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola. These activities are fun, thrilling breaks from skiing for all those at least 38” tall. The alpine coaster zips through the trees on Snowmass Mountain and gives gorgeous views amongst the National Forest. Tubing is a ski-resort favorite activity for kids and adults alike and is always popular at Snowmass. Check out the ticket options for tubing and the alpine coaster.
Experience A Magical Sleigh Ride
Aspen offers horse-drawn sleigh or carriage rides for all ages and occasions. Whether it be through a snow-covered ranch or Downtown Aspen, these sleigh and carriage rides add a special touch to your mountain vacation. The Pine Creek Cookhouse restaurant also offers sleigh-drawn rides to their luxury Alpine restaurant in the Winter months. With both public and private options, carriage and sleigh rides create a magical experience in our own Winter Wonderland.
Ice Skating Under The Lights
This is one of our favorite things to do in Aspen besides ski! Aspen and Snowmass boast both indoor and outdoor skating rinks during the Winter season. Walking distance from the Aspen Mountain Gondola is an outdoor skating rink next to the ‘CP Burger’ restaurant or for indoor skating visit the Aspen Ice Garden or Aspen Recreation Centre. Snowmass Base Village offers free ice skating outside the Limelight hotel, steps from the Elk Camp Gondola.
Take In The Sights On The Silver Queen Gondola
What better way to see the sights than the Gondolas at Aspen and Snowmass mountains. The ride is a truly beautiful experience that for the non-skier allows you to witness the mountain beauty that skiers and snowboarders do. Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Mountain have mountain-top restaurants and bars with outdoor seating to enjoy the views after your Gondola ride. You can also take a stroll on the trails at the top of Aspen Mountain to take in the panoramic views. The ride itself lasts about 15 minutes, and tickets can be purchased at https://www.aspensnowmass.com/visit/tickets-and-passes/sightseeing-and-tickets
Looking for even more to do in Aspen this winter? Check out our full Winter Guide for Aspen and Snowmass
Our winter guide gives you a complete rundown of all the information you need when planning a vacation in Aspen and Snowmass. Including the best ski runs, and even more things to do in Aspen in winter besides ski. From the most popular restaurants to our local tips, we go over everything you could need before visiting Aspen!
Aspen is a charming mountain town that gives every visitor an experience that you simply cannot get anywhere else. Vacationing in Aspen Snowmass during winter is truly unmatched. A world-class ski resort in a town that lives and breathes through culture and community. Our wonderful hometown is an outdoor playground for all ages, with excitement and inspiration around every corner. The phrase, which has become a motto of sorts for the town, “defy ordinary” sums up the exact mood among locals and visitors alike. This place has a unique atmosphere that leaves every visitor with a lasting love for Aspen. It’s almost unexplainable. Through this guide, we’ll talk about what makes Aspen Snowmass so special, in addition to how to turn your trip into everlasting memories
This Winter in Aspen Snowmass
If you’re planning a trip an Aspen winter vacation, odds are you are looking to hit the slopes. It’s shaping up to be a truly special ski season as Aspen and we are sure this season will be full of celebration in addition to the remarkable atmosphere that fills our town during the winter. This guide will help you have the ultimate ski vacation in Aspen. We’ll also highlight some of our other favorite things to do in Aspen in winter.
Skiing this season is set to start on Thanksgiving weekend as is usually tradition. Aspen and Snowmass Mountains will open first on November 24th, with Highlands set to open December 10th and Buttermilk on December 17th. The ski season runs through to April. Buttermilk is planned to close on April 9th with Aspen mountain being the last to close on the 16th. These dates sometimes get extended when the snow is particularly great and skiing is still viable through to May. Fingers crossed! With four amazing mountains to enjoy, and over 5,500 skiable acres the possibilities are endless for your dream ski vacation.
SKI GUIDE: What You Need to Know About Hitting the Slopes
Here is our guide to getting the most out of your ski strip. With proper planning and information, you can make sure you don’t miss a beat. Whether you want to experience every possible second of adventure, or are setting your sights on a weekend of Aprés, we’ll help make sure you get everything you want to be done, and more!
SKI PASSES AND LIFT TICKETS
To start you need a pass to access the slopes. Every pass you get gives you access to all 4 mountains in Aspen Snowmass. Each mountain is within a short drive to downtown Aspen, and are all very accessible. If your vacation time permits, we recommend trying to spend some time on each of our fantastic mountains. Our mountains each have a personality of their own and offer a different experience to the next.
Various types of ski passes or lift tickets are available, and prices can vary depending on the time of the season. As previously mentioned any pass will get you onto all four of the local mountains. Short-term passes can vary from 1-day to 7-day passes, and the price reduces per the number of days bought. If you are planning on a long vacation in Aspen or even visiting multiple times then it may be worth your while to grab a season-long lift ticket. Again, there are many different options from unlimited premier passes, student and senior passes, and even 2-day a week passes. There is something for almost any budget.
Public transport in our little mountain town is second to none. While most resorts and lodging options offer phenomenal concierge services and have great shuttle options, our local bus network provides an excellent service to all four mountains. From Rubey Park Station there are free bus options, direct to each mountain. All bus services from Aspen to Snowmass and everywhere in-between are completely free. Each bus has plenty of secure ski storage and there are departures from all stops every half hour!
On top of this, the Aspen Downtowner offers free shuttle rides for any visitor. This service is only available, as the name suggests, in downtown Aspen. Nevertheless, this is a reliable and quick option to go anywhere in town, including the base of Aspen Mountain.
You are probably thinking, what do I need to bring to Aspen for the Winter?Although many visitors bring along their own ski and snowboard gear, there are tons of options for those of you who need to rent ski/snowboard equipment. Four Mountain Sports offer rentals for skis and clothing and have a location at every mountain. So don’t panic if you don’t have enough space in your suitcase. There are plenty of further rental shops throughout town such as Incline, SureFoot, and Aspen Sports. To find some hidden gems, check out the Aspen Thrift shop for affordable second-hand options!
OUR FAVORITE AREAS AND RUNS FOR A PERFECT DAY ON EACH MOUNTAIN
So you’ve planned ahead, got all of the necessary gear, and are ready to explore. Here’s our perfect day on each respective Mountain, from a local perspective. The best runs and areas, on-mountain dining, aprés and other little tips to make the most of every day. Aspen and Snowmass have over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, meaning you’ll be able to try something new every day. Full maps of the runs on each mountain can be found here.
ASPEN MOUNTAIN (Ajax): LEGENDARY SKIING IN THE HEART OF TOWN
Aspen Mountain overlooks downtown Aspen and offers world-class steep skiing right into the heart of Aspen. There are no beginner runs on Aspen Mountain but intermediate skiers can take blue runs all of the ways down. Start your day with some lines down Silver Bell to the Ajax Express, which is the quickest way to return to the top. For lunch, you should zip down Buckhorn, and grab a bite to eat at Bonnie’s, a long-term institution on Aspen Mountain, famous for its pancakes! Now that you’re warmed up, we recommend hitting The Aspen Glades in search of some fresh powder and intense tree lines. We love to finish the day with a top-to-bottom run, down Ruthies on the Western side of the mountain, which gives you exquisite views down the Roaring Fork Valley.
HIGHLANDS: BREATHTAKING, STEEP, AND WILD
Aspen Highlands offers, in our opinion something a little different to the other mountains in Aspen. Some of the higher runs offer “in-bounds” backcountry skiing with steep powdery slopes. You should start the day with a quick run to wake yourself up before making the trek up to the top of The Highlands Bowl. Probably the most renowned area to ski in Aspen, the bowl offers thrilling, steep skiing with incredible panoramic views, as good as anywhere in the world. We usually head earlier in the day, as the hike is a real leg-burner, and you also want to get there before any fresh snow has been skied. After you’ve worked up a sweat, stop in at Merry-Go-Round for a refreshing bite to eat. If you’re feeling a little more festive, join the party at Cloud 9 Bistro, known for spraying bottles of champagne.
BUTTERMILK: BEGINNERS PARADISE
Buttermilk is considered the easiest mountain in terms of terrain, with trails to suit every experience level. The West Buttermilk is a great area of the mountain for some quick blue and green runs. We love starting our day up there. The runs are spacious and quiet, with great options for different levels. Why not test your skills on the features in the terrain park. On the eastern side of Buttermilk, we love to descend on Racer’s Edge to the Tiehack Express, which gives you access to some more challenging runs. After a day on the slopes, unwind with a drink and some great food at Hometeam BBQ.
SNOWMASS: WIDE OPEN, WONDERFUL, AND INVITING
Snowmass is the largest of the four mountains, and hence it has everything from complete beginner slopes to off-piste style terrain. There is so much to explore but we’ll break down our ideal day as best we can. Start your day on the Village Express with some groomed runs on Banzai Ridge and Moonshine. Refuel with some food at Sam’s, which offers amazing Italian food. After you’ve re-energized, make your way across the mountain until you eventually make it to the Elk Camp side. It will take some time and a few different lifts, but it’s the best way to explore Snowmass Mountain in our opinion.
Make your way to the thrilling Long Shot Trail to finish off. A little hike up from the Elk Camp chairlift gives you access to one continuous blue run down to the Two Creeks lift. It’s filled with bump sections and technical tree trails. You’ll have earned a drink after this, so hit up Venga Venga for some aprés ski celebrations. Also, keep an eye out for the free s’more stations in the base village.
More Ski Tips for Aspen Snowmass: How to Have More Fun on the Hill
After a fresh snowfall, there’s really nothing like catching first tracks in the morning. Getting up early to try and beat the crowds is so rewarding and being the first to hit either the morning corduroy or untouched powder is truly a privilege. The first gondola leaves at 8 AM, so plan on getting up bright and early when you vacation here! You must book first tracks for Aspen and Snowmass 24 hours in advance, so try and plan ahead with the weather to guarantee you’re the first to pick a powdery line on the mountain.
Across all four mountains in Aspen, shrines have been set up for everything from dogs to celebrities and even countries. Shrines are little areas hidden on the mountains which are decorated with items related to whatever they are celebrating. Often amongst the trees, you will find a tucked away seat with the branches around them covered in pictures, ornaments, and personal belongings. Each mountain has its own respective shrines, with over 50 in total across our four mountains. A full list, with some maps, can be found here. Our favorites to visit are the Bob Marley and the dog shrines on Aspen Mountain, and the monkey lounge shrine at Highlands. Why not take a few lines through the trees on your next run and see if you can spot any!
OTHER SKIING ACTIVITIES: ADD SOME VARIETY TO YOUR OUTINGS
Are you looking for different things to do in Aspen and Snowmass this winter — something besides alpine skiing or snowboarding?
Maybe you’re a little bored with the slopes. Or perhaps you’re planning a mountain vacation but you’re not sure you want to deal with crowded lift lines and on-mountain restaurants. Try some of these other ski-based activities for something a little different this year.
Uphill Skiing or “Skinning”
Uphill skiing is quickly becoming one of Aspen’s favorite pastimes. Skinning, as it is often called, used to be a lesser-known activity amongst skiers, but has become much more accessible in recent times to all levels of skiing experience. Skinning involves using a specific set of skis that have a special binding and a set of skins on the bottom, which allow you to hike uphill with your skis on. This activity is a real workout and makes the run down even more rewarding. As they say, you’ve got to earn your turns. Uphill skiing on Aspen’s four mountains requires either a season pass or a specifically uphill ski pass, which costs $69 for the season. For full information on how to get started with skinning in Aspen visit our full guide to uphill skiing in Aspen.
Cross country skiing has always been present amongst the local community and experienced skiers, but its popularity explode due to the Covid-19 year. It was another great way to get your skiing fix while the lifts were closed. Cross-country skiing allows you to make the most of flat snow terrain. There are several distinct styles, all using the same basic setup of “skinny” skis and poles. We love cross-country skiing as not only is it a testing form of exercise but it also allows you to ski or tour scenic trails around Aspen that you wouldn’t be able to explore otherwise. Want to get into cross-country skiing this winter? Browse our detailed guide on cross-country skiing in Aspen.
Aspen, and Colorado in general, benefits from having an extensive hut system. These huts are scattered throughout the backcountry in remote areas. The fact that they are off the beaten track makes for a great excursion or backcountry adventure. Mountain huts offer a great escape. Almost every hut will require to you snowshoe or ski the backcountry Huts are bookable online and provide guests with an experience like no other. Imagine you, your family, and friends nestled up in a cozy cabin away from technology and noise. Just good company in a dreamy mountain escape. Every hut is armed with fireplaces, a kitchen, and comfortable living and sleeping areas. To plan your next adventure in the backcountry, visit 10th Mountain Division Huts, which provide bookable huts for different sized parties and experiences. With regards to Aspen winter activities, it doesn’t get much better than a hut trip!
Tours and guides
To explore our beautiful snow-covered mountains there are tons of options for tours and guides. Getting shown around by a local can show you the area in a different light. You’ll also receive great insights, stories, and tips. A local tour can give you experiences you wouldn’t even know possible on an otherwise quick vacation in Aspen. Whether you are searching for adrenalin by skiing the backcountry, looking to catch some amazing views, or snowmobiling the lesser know trails of Aspen and Snowmass, there is something for everyone. Our local experts can help you find the experience you are dreaming of. Explore Aspen’s options for various tours and guided trips.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: THINGS TO DO IN ASPEN IN WINTER BESIDES SKI
Aspen has an endless list of activities and things to visit. In addition to our famed social scene, there are also numerous ways to get out and discover some lesser-known gems for those visiting our snow globe. Here are some of our favorite ways to spend your day when you’re not on the slopes. Aspen winter activities come in many forms and Aspen Snowmass always provide something for everyone to enjoy.
Dining & Shopping
Aspen is famed for phenomenal dining experiences and world-renowned retail. There are endless options from downtown to on-mountain dining with worldwide cuisine available on every street. On our luxury blog, we talk about the options in town, from noteworthy gems to local favorites and everything in-between. Luxury brands and high-class boutique stores also love to call Aspen and Snowmass home.
Further down this blog, we explore what’s new in Aspen this year!
Go Gallery Hopping
Aspen has a bustling local art scene and community. There are numerous art galleries, ranging from local boutique displays to pop-ups from famous artists from all over the globe. The Aspen Art Museum offers exhibitions from around the world, in an amazing setup in the heart of downtown. Festivals and events are hosted year-round. Beautiful street art displays can be found on the sides of red brick buildings. To sum it up our little town shows off when it comes to art, and you can explore so much in a dense, vibrant area. Read through our full guide on Aspen’s art scene to plan your gallery-hopping days.
Explore Aspen on a different mode of transport
T-Lazy 7 Ranch offers winter Horseback rides guided by professionals, which meander through the trails around Maroon Creek. This is a unique and rare way to explore Aspen’s backcountry in the winter. “The trails, which have been packed down for safety, are peacefully quiet in the wintertime, and you’ll see some of the most breathtaking sights in the world. Not only does the snow create some amazing sculptures along the rocky terrain, but you’ll also see parts of the woods that are hidden during other seasons.”
A common sight during winter in Aspen is the horse-pulled carriage that makes its way through town. Visitors have been able to tour Aspen in an open horse-pulled sleigh for over 40 years. It’s a special way to take in Aspen at a slower pace. Aside from exploring downtown, guests can also take to the trails of Stillwater Ranch for a secluded, private experience. If you’re looking for an even more magical experience, Pine Creek Cookhouse offers amazing dinners, where you can be chauffeured to the restaurant by horse-drawn sleigh. Pine Creek Cookhouse is a staple of Aspen offering phenomenal cuisine for many years and is loved by the local community.
Book a trip to The Bells
The Maroon Bells, the most photographed mountain peaks in the US are sublime at any time of year. The road to Maroon bells becomes less accessible in the Winter but it’s still possible to visit. You can still cross-country ski, snow bike, snowshoe, hike, or take a snowmobile the 12.4 miles round-trip to access the bells. There is a cross-country ski track along the road as well as a groomed snowmobile track. We can attest that making that little extra effort to see the bells in winter is worth it. It really is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see.
Join the Party
As you may expect from a ski town, there has to be a party once the slopes close every day. Aspen hosts an aprés scene to match the renowned ski runs. There are bars & restaurants at the base of every mountain. Each with their own style and a celebration worth attending. Through the many clubs in town, you won’t have to venture far to find a DJ and a crowd, but our favorite spots are Venga Venga in Snowmass and Ajax Tavern at the base of Aspen Mountain. If you want to go wild, spend an afternoon at Cloud 9 Bistro on Highlands Mountain. It’s known for its big parties and champagne showers. Don’t worry, you won’t have to ski. You can get a snowcat down to the base once the shenanigans are over!
Take in The views
Even if you don’t enjoy skiing, the top of Aspen Mountain is still accessible to everyone. Get a gondola ticket and go explore around the top of Ajax. Walkable trails cover certain areas at the mountain top which give you some of the most amazing views you’ll ever be lucky enough to see. You can even grab a bite at The Sundeck after some exploring. If you are feeling active then you can also hike Smuggler Mountain. Smuggler is a relatively short hike, still open during the winter. It gives sprawling views over the beautiful downtown of Aspen, yet only takes 30 minutes to the lookout.
While on vacation you may still want to stay active without hitting the slopes. Aspen and Snowmass both have recreational centers with great facilities. You’ll be able to access full indoor courts, gyms, climbing walls, skating rinks, and even heated swimming pools. Day passes can be bought as well as family rates for weekly and monthly memberships.
Right in the center of town, across from Rubey park, there is a public ice-skating rink. A gorgeous location for some relaxed skating or a romantic date under the lights.
Why not catch a live show?
Aspen attracts some of the world’s best musicians, comedians, and performers year-round. Venues such as the Wheeler Opera House and BellyUp have housed various acts and shows for years here in Aspen and the line-ups they offer never disappoint. This winter why not see one of your favorite musicians while on holiday, or see a live show worthy of any theatre.
ASPEN WINTER ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS: ALWAYS ENTERTAINING
There is always a spectacular array of events that happen throughout the season here in Aspen. From ski competitions to bustling parties and family festivals, there’s a celebration to suit everyone during winter. Here are a few of our highlights!
The Winter X Games in Aspen is the highest level of extreme winter sports competition with skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers all competing for gold. Returning for its 22nd consecutive year, Winter X Games will take place in Buttermilk, showcasing some of the world’s best winter athletes.
One of the oldest recurring events in Aspen, Wintersköl is a celebration of Aspen’s alpine lifestyle from Jan 12th-15th 2023. Throughout the 4-day festival, the town features on-mountain activities, concerts, family events, fashion shows, and ice sculpture competitions. The weekend is rounded off with a fireworks display and bonfire.
AUDI Power of 4
An endurance race like no other. Teams challenge themselves with over 24 miles and 10,000 vertical feet, in this exhausting competition. This race consists of hiking up and skiing each of Aspen’s four mountains, as quickly as possible.
The national ski racing championships take place every year in Aspen, with the quickest qualifiers from across America competing for gold. It’s a great weekend to get out and watch the fastest skiers in the country battle it out.
Gay Ski Week
In January, every year, Aspen runs host to the premier LGBTQ+ winter event with a full schedule of events on-and-off the Aspen Snowmass mountains. This is a week full of celebrations and events that make the social scene come alive.
“Aspen Shortsfest is an Oscar®-qualifying film festival recognized as one of the premier short film festivals in North America”. In April, you will be able to get early viewings of some of the best short films in North America. Shortsfest is always an electric and eclectic week to finish off the winter season.
Bud light Mountain Challenge
The Bud light mountain challenge is an opportunity for self proclaimed athletes to compete in some seriously fun winter events. This free week of events focuses on some friendly competition on the slopes with an emphasis on having a good time.
As the Aspen winter comes to an end every year, the town uses the closing days of each mountain as an excuse to throw some extravagant parties. Usually held at the base of each mountain, wild parties are not to be missed as each mountain closes on their respective dates.
Aspen Ski World Cup
Aspen Mountain is preparing for the return of the FIS world cup on March 3-5 2023. This epic downhill race sees premier alpine skiers compete in Super-G and Downhill courses, with onlookers able to catch all the action on the sidelines.
WHAT’S NEW: HOW TO SPICE UP YOUR ASPEN WINTER VACATION
Aspen, despite its condensed downtown area, attracts something or someone new every season. Pop-up boutiques, critically acclaimed restaurants, and world-class events love to call Aspen home, if even for just one season. Below we give you a taste of just some of the new happenings in Aspen & Snowmass this winter.
Aspen’s newest and finest Mexican restaurant opened late this summer in the Mill Street Plaza. Occupying what used to be a local favorite “Jimmy’s”, this restaurant has made a fantastic impression in town. From exquisite food to delicious cocktails, be sure to visit Las Montañas this winter.
The latest establishment to open at The Little Nell Residences at the base of Aspen Mountain is Chica. Chica is a “celebration of Latin Flavors” by Celebrity Chef Lorena Garcia. The menu has a vibrant mix of Latin dishes and an inventive cocktail and drinks list.
The sister restaurant of famed NYC seafood restaurant Catch. Catch Steak is planning on opening a new rooftop steakhouse on the corner of Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue. This location offers panoramic views of Aspen Mountain and beyond from its phenomenal outdoor patio, which complements its vast indoor space.
Aspen Skiing Company’s new premium retail and experimental concept brand. The brand includes the first clothing line developed by a ski resort, launching with custom collaborations and outerwear designed for the community who spends most of their time on the slopes. The store itself is open on Aspen’s Gondola Plaza.
Tecovas, the Austin, Texas-based cowboy boot, and leather goods store has opened its latest retail location on Aspen’s Hyman Ave (moved locations from around the corner). It is the latest store in Aspen to offer custom leather detailing and personalization.
The popular yoga clothing brand made it’s way to Aspen this summer with a new store on Hyman Ave. Alo’s high end, trendy athleisure wear is quickly becoming a staple in Aspen, for comfort before and after the slopes.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT
It’s no surprise that the holidays are the busiest time of year in Aspen. Everyone wants to spend a Christmas or New Year’s vacation in a winter wonderland. Although that time of year does have a special feel to it, the magic of Aspen and Snowmass is present year-round. No matter what stage of the season you plan to visit, Aspen is nothing short of spectacular. The atmosphere that makes it so wonderful never ceases and there are always endless things to do. So don’t let timing throw you off a winter vacation like no other in Aspen. Take a peek at our run-downs on why January and February are so much fun. These serve as a small example of how different times of year will always provide a great experience.
STAYING IN ASPEN
There are tons of accommodation options for visitors to Aspen and Snowmass. As a popular tourist destination, we have numerous high-class resorts and hotels across both Aspen and Snowmass. In addition to this, Aspen is filled with fantastic homes available as luxury vacation retreats. Whether you need a downtown condo or a slope-side chalet, we can help cater to whatever your group needs. At Aspen Luxury Vacation Rentals we have the finest selection of rental homes throughout Pitkin County. Let us help you find that dream vacation home, and make your trip one to remember. Don’t hesitate to reach out and see the luxury accommodation options Aspen has to offer. Click to browse our complete collection.
People often fret about bringing their pets on vacation. In Aspen, there is no need to worry too much about the logistics of bringing a pet. A large selection of luxury vacation rentals are pet-friendly. There are options for every type of accommodation, so don’t be too quick to rule out bringing your family dog on your Aspen trip! The town itself has a plethora pet-friendly downtown parks and miles of walking trails. You can even hike your dog up some ski slopes after operating hours!
How do I Get to Aspen?
Aspen has its own small airport, Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which has several daily flights directly into the town of Aspen. Buses and shuttles are also available direct from Denver as well other nearby airports such as Eagle County. If you are traveling by car, the Roaring Fork Valley is connected to Denver via the I-70. Taking the I-70 from either direction will lead you to Glenwood Springs where you can turn off onto Highway 82. Highway 82 is a direct route to Aspen and is the only open road into Aspen during the Winter.
Which is the best mountain in Aspen For beginners?
Buttermilk and Snowmass mountains offer green (beginner) runs in addition to a large selection of easier blue runs. Both mountains have specific lift areas with trails specifically for those who are new to skiing/snowboarding. If you are relatively new but want to explore a little more, both of these mountains also have long runs higher on the mountain that let you test yourself a little more without getting too steep.
What should I bring to Aspen in Winter?
Obviously if you plan to hit the ski slopes you’ll need all of your ski/snowboard gear. If you can’t fit everything you need, the local sport and rental shops offer rental options for everyone. Other than that, pack warm! Bring your favorite thick jacket and a pair of winter boots and you’ll be ready to brace the Aspen snow.
How long is the Winter in Aspen?
Heavy snow starts to fall in Aspen in November. The mountains being opening to the public for skiing around Thanksgiving weekend. Our wonderful ski season then runs uninterrupted until April. Over the last couple of weeks of April each individual mountain will have its own closing days. Although, if Aspen gets good snow, some mountains have stayed open until June in recent years!
What is the off-season in Aspen?
Off-season in Aspen and Snowmass is the time between our summer and winter seasons. Usually lasting roughly a month either side of summer. The first off season is generally the month of May, and our second off-season is from mid-October until mid-November. It’s a time where the town quietens down, business reduce their hours and the residents of Aspen can relax. It’s still an amazing time to visit! Read our guide on why off-season is so amazing in Aspen.
Is it expensive to vacation in Aspen?
Although Aspen is one of the more expensive ski resorts in North America, you can still vacation in Aspen and Snowmass without breaking the bank. Great deals can be found on travel and luxury accommodations throughout the year in Aspen. Aspen is filled with fine dining restaurants and lavish retail stores, but it can be easy to avoid overspending on socializing too. There are great local bars and restaurants offering affordable options across our bustling mountain town.
What is there to do at night in Aspen?
Whether you’re looking to relax, or get your groove on, Aspen and Snowmass have an abundance of things to entertain you at night. There is bustling bar and club scene in Aspen as well as venues which host some of the world’s biggest stars. All kinds of restaurants line Aspen’s streets from quaint romantic eateries to spots for some casual dining. Many of our lovely art galleries are open at night and make the town a lovely area to relax in and explore after dark.
What is there to do in Aspen in Winter if you don’t ski?
Although Aspen is one of the most popular ski resorts in North America, the town still offers an abundance of activities to do besides ski. Check out our detailed guide on what to do in Aspen besides ski – The 7 Best Things to Do In Aspen in Winter Besides Ski
For numerous reasons the autumn season in Aspen is like no other. The leaves begin the change and fall, and town slows down just a little as we transition through our “off-season”. There’s a quiet and calm atmosphere across the town despite all the happenings and gatherings before the snow starts to take over the outdoors. Here’s a breakdown of our top things to do in Aspen & Snowmass in the fall.
1: Dreamy Fall Hikes
As the leaves change, the Aspen trees turn into a flowing bouquet of color providing dreamy views and picturesque scenes. What better way to get amongst the trees than to explore the vast amount of hiking trails in Aspen. Aspen and Snowmass have a trail for all experiences, but no matter how easy you want to take it, you can always find world class views at the end of every hike. There are too many options to talk about them all, but you can find more info here. At this time of year, our top hike is:
The Maroon Bells overlooking Maroon Lake is one the most photogenic scenes across the United States. The world-renowned views are always incredibly popular, but our favorite time to visit is during the fall. In our opinion, just before reservations end in October is the most special time of year. With fewer crowds, the area itself is incredibly peaceful. As you venture up higher on the trails you overlook a beautiful sea of amber, crimson and gold. The hiking trails vary in difficulty and length so there is something for everyone – you can even take your bike on certain trails! An autumn day at the bells is sure to be one of the most special of the year. Stay up to date with full Maroon Bells information.
2: Ashcroft Ghost Town
Ashcroft ghost town is of the most interesting areas to visit in all of Aspen. Originally a prosperous mining town located in the Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft had a rapid rise to a wealthy and bustling town in the 1880s. It had numerous hotels, saloons and wealthy residents, and at this point in time was larger than Aspen. The town was unfortunately just as quick to collapse as the silver mines were shallow, and the residents began to move to Aspen after the prosperity. Despite some efforts to revive the area in the 1900s, Ashcroft was ultimately abandoned and now is deeded to the U.S Forest Service.
Today, there are still a few buildings remaining as a testament to the town’s past. The Aspen Historical Society allows visitors to explore the site and look into the history of this great mining town. The maintained derelict buildings with the backdrop of the fall colors on the mountains are a sight to behold. Visiting Ashcroft provides a wonderful window into Colorado’s past and an idyllic vintage mountain scene. The area is also host to some amazing hiking trails and riverside pastures. Be sure to stop off for some food at The Pine Creek Cookhouse after your day of adventuring.
3: Aspen FilmFest
With all the beauty and adventure that surrounds Aspen in the fall, it may be a surprise to recommend an indoor event, however, the Aspen FilmFest is one of Aspen’s unmissable events. The annual festival is held at Wheeler Opera House every September, and in its 42nd year, is creating as much as a buzz as ever. Showcasing top films from around the world, the esteemed FilmFest attracts experts and casual watchers alike. It’s always such an electric week in Aspen, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store. This year, it runs from the 21st to the 26th of September in venues including The Wheeler Opera House and Metropolitan’s Isis Theatre as well as the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.
Full information and program can be found here
4: Golfing In The Valley
One of the most popular pastimes in the valley, the Roaring Fork Valley offers an amazing variation of fine golf courses. Although the ball flies further at altitude, it’s not the only reason we love golfing in Aspen. Hitting the course with a jaw-dropping backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is an amazing experience. Combine this with the vibrant fall leaves and you find yourself playing in some of the most beautiful surroundings any golfer will experience. It’ll even make you forget how your game is going. From public courses to private clubs, Aspen and its surroundings have a wide selection of courses – there’s even mini-golf in the center of town. Here are some of our favorites:
Aspen Golf Club
The closest course to downtown Aspen, is the public Aspen Golf Course. A challenging 18-hole course with stunning panoramic views of Aspen’s ski mountains. Great membership offers and affordable green fees, for a fantastic and wonderfully maintained course.
Ironbridge Golf Club
Located thirty minutes down valley from Aspen, just outside of Carbondale. Famed for it’s back nine which runs through vast canyons and with fairways facing Mt.Sopris.
Ranch at Roaring Fork
Nine-hole course located just outside of Carbondale down valley. This par-27 is an ideal alternative option for some casual golf or family-time that doesn’t take up the whole day.
5: Get On The Mountains
Before summer officially ends and the mountains close to prepare for winter, Aspen & Snowmass mountains offer some great activities and mountain-top adventures. Gondola’s will still operate on both mountains every weekend until October 6th. Multiple ticket options are available for the Silver Queen & Elk Camp Gondola’s. If you’re feeling fit, gondola rides are free on the way down if you hike to the top!
Not only can you get amazing panoramic views of the ever-changing leaves this fall, but there is so much to explore on either mountain. Snowmass offers some of the most incredible biking trails in all of Pitkin County as well as being the home of the Lost Forest & Adventure Park. Atop of Aspen Mountain is the Sundeck where not only do they offer great dining options, but there is also mountain top yoga & a disc golf course!
More to do!
Looking for even more to do? Check out or favorite September activities or even have a browse through our best rentals for viewing the fall leaves!
The growing popularity of uphill skiing
What was once a lesser known gem of an activity, popular among locals is now becoming more and more accessible by visitors and beginner skiers alike. Across Aspen’s four mountains there are an abundance of uphill ski routes ranging in both steepness and length, providing probably the best uphill skiing in Colorado. The access to multiple mountains also makes Aspen/Snowmass the perfect place to begin skinning and make it a hobby!
So you want to get into uphill skiing? Have you gotten more confident on the slopes and want to try something new? Maybe you’re looking for an exciting new form of exercise, or even a way to get on the slopes after the lifts have closed! Whatever your interest, we’ll give you all our tips to make to most the of your skinning adventures in Aspen!
As they say, you gotta earn your turns.
The Benefits of Uphill Skiing: Why You Should Be Doing It Too:
The Uphill Technique
It may be a bit daunting to get out there for your first time and just walk up the mountain. Going uphill may seem like a physical challenge or even tough to learn, but by going at your own pace to get the technique down, you will quickly get the hang of it. It can be a tiring activity (which is a good thing) but by using proper technique it becomes much more comfortable and can take the stress off of your legs. Check out this quick video below from PSIA-AASI on how to practice the correct posture and be efficient with your exertion.
The Gear & Accessories You Need
It can seem a bit daunting to skin up a mountain for the first time or even to try solo, but with the right equipment and preparation you can get the most out of this pastime without fretting too much. You’ve probably got a lot of questions about how it all works. How do you ski uphill? How do you apply ski skins? What are the best ski skins? It may seem a bit confusing when you’ve never set up the gear before, and it’s so important to have all the right gear and knowhow, so let’s break it all down as simple as possible, and get ready to be mountain bound. It turns out to be easier than you’d think!
Uphill skis for the most part are very similar to your normal ski. They may look the same but there are a couple of slights differences.
The first being that you have small indents or spaces on either end of the ski for the skin itself to attach onto and stay in place. The other difference is that the binding on the ski has different mechanics. The heel part of your binding is able to turn so that your boot only clicks in at the toe. This allows your heel to be free and ultimately gives you to ability and movement to be able to bring your skis uphill.
Skins are the piece of gear that let you physically go up the mountain. They attach to the bottom of your skis and give you more traction allowing you to have grip on uphill slopes. They clip on and off very easily for uphill designed skis. The video down below helps you to understand how they work.
As you may have guessed, with different bindings also often comes a different set of boots. Some touring boots have a different heel for snapping into your bindings. It is becoming popular however for skis to have alpine touring bindings which allow for normal ski boots to click. This allows your skis to become a hybrid in a sense.
On Your Body
On the hike up, you will work up a sweat, so it would be smart to bring a bag to store any jackets. Often times just a t-shirt or jumper will suffice when skinning up the mountain. We like to carry our ski jacket up for the ski back down! As always check the weather before you head out.
For Your Head
Going up, you won’t need more than a hat as you shouldn’t be falling. A simple beanie should keep you nice and warm on most days. Going down is business as usual – bring your ski helmet!
On top of hats, sunglasses are also a key accessory for skinning in the sun.
Gloves are not a necessity going up the hill, but of course you’ll need down for the way down.
How Do I Change From Uphill to Downhill?
As you make it to the top of your route, you may be wondering how you transition from uphill mode to downhill. It turns out to be quite fast and also simple. After you unclip yourself from you ski bindings, you first remove your skins from the base of your skis as seen below. After that you simply swap or turn your bindings so that the heel of your boot will clip in and you’re ready to head down the slopes.
Where to Uphill in Aspen: Our Favorite Routes
This year and going forward, due to covid-19 any uphill skiers must follow designated routes when on any of the ski areas in AspenSnowmass. Not to worry, as Aspen has an abundance of routes for you to make to most of your skinning season. Here’s a selection of our favorite routes!
If you plan on using any of the designated routes, as of the 2022/2023 season you will need to buy a pass from SkiCo which gives you access to all four mountains for the whole season.
Buttermilk Mountain is the shortest of the four mountains, so in theory some of the hikes themselves are shorter. While you might not climb as much in elevation, Buttermilk has a good mix of steep and gradual routes, which can be powered out a little quicker (if you’re feeling like you need a challenge).
West Buttermilk Route
The West Buttermilk skinning route is the easiest of all the designated skinning routes across Aspen. It has the lowest elevation gain total, as this hike starts from the West Buttermilk parking which is slightly higher up the mountain.
This route takes up you the Teaser run, under the bridge and then carrying on through Ridge Trail and finishing at Cliffhouse Restaurant. This short hike provides exquisite views at the top and is significantly rewarding for the length of the uphill climb.
Elevation Gain: 1,027 ft.
Accessible Hours: All Day
Tiehack has become one of the most popular and accessible routes in all of Aspen. It can be done in 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on your physical fitness. Conveniently, there is also 24 hour parking available right at the base of the Tiehack Ski Lift.
This is a short enough hike time-wise, but it’s also a lung-buster. There are a couple of slightly different variations on the route but the most common is to start ascending Eagle Hill, through to Ptarmigan and ending at Cliffhouse once again.
Elevation Gain: 1,683 ft.
Accessible Hours: All Day
Snowmass, being the mountain with most normal ski runs, also has to most uphill routes for you to enjoy. We picked our two favorite uphill routes on either side of the mountain, which let you experience as much of Snowmass as possible.
Elk Camp Route
The Elk Camp Route is extremely popular with the locals, and for good reason. On the shorter side, compared to other routes, this is a great starter hike for anyone trying Snowmass for the first time. Reward yourself with great views and also great food at the top! Starting from Base Village, you begin your journey up through Funnel, around causeway and finishing at Elk Camp Restaurant
Elevation Gain: 1,368 ft.
Accessible Hours: 9 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.
Sam’s Knob Route
A tougher uphill hike which finishes off at Sam’s restaurant, which has great food and unbelievable views. This is our favorite route in Snowmass and one we recommend to everyone who is growing their love for skinning. Begin your hike on Fanny Hill, up the Dawdler and continue to Lower Velvet Falls. After this, you work your way past Upper Velvet Falls, on to Coney Glade, Banzai Ridge and ultimately finish at Sam’s Knob.
Elevation Gain: 2,173 ft.
Accessible Hours: 9 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.
The famous Aspen Highlands with renowned skiing and views is accessible by a free bus, and also has year round parking making it a must for all visitors. This year with some restrictions, there is just the one route on Highlands Mountain. However, Highlands has arguably the best skiing in Aspen and is an absolute dream on a powder day.
Aspen Highlands Route
This uphill route is on the steeper side, but of you’re feeling up to the challenge then we implore you to make this uphill excursion. Starting at the base of the mountain, you make your way up through Jerome Bowl, continuing up Park Avenue and Memory Lane before making it to the top at Merry Go Round Restaurant.
This trail is accessible during operating hours, which means not only can you arrive at your own leisure but you can move at your own pace throughout the day! However, If you make it to top of Merry Go Round before 8:30am then you may continue to the top of Loge Peak, which has amazing panoramic views of the Elk Mountain Range.
Elevation Gain: 1,950 ft.
Accessible Hours: 9 A.M – 4:25 P.M.
The most central mountain overlooking downtown Aspen, has limited routes due to busier narrow slopes during lift operating hours, but if you can spare an evening and are looking for a tough workout, we can’t recommend Ajax enough.
Aspen Mountain Route
The Aspen Mountain Route starts right under the Silver Queen Gondola at The little Nell and works its way up the face of the mountain, through Spar Gulch and ultimately finishing up at The Sundeck at the top of the mountain. This hike has the most elevation gain of any of the designated skinning routes in Aspen, as is a real butt-kicker of an uphill route.
This route is not accessible during operating hours on the mountain ( 9am – 4:45pm ) but it is one of our favorites to do in the early morning or a Spring evening, especially if you want to really challenge yourself! The views at the top are some of the best you’ll ever see, and of course a longer hike means more skiing on the way down!
This is also a great route to do early in the offseason before the snow becomes too slushy to hike or ski. As our added tip, during a sunny Spring evening, for a shorter hike, with spectacular views of the city of Aspen, hike up the face as far as Kleenex Corner and take in the sunset! A much easier uphill with a tranquil overlook on the town.
Elevation Gain: 3,267 ft.
Difficulty: Very Difficult
Accessible Hours: Before 9 A.M. and after 4:45 P.M.
As an added tip, you can check out all current routes on the Aspen Snowmass App!
Full maps of all routes are available here, and routes can always change from season to season so make sure you check up on them before your adventure so get the most up to date routes! Alternatively, once off season begins, and the slopes & lifts close, new routes are available and become popular with the locals who want to shred that last bit of snow. Check out some routes that pop up or ask around the town for some tips on these new routes!
There are many backcountry ski routes around Aspen and Snowmass, for those of that are more adventurous. Our recommendation would be to master skinning on designated mountain routes, and when you are ready, converse with some avid uphillers to find the best backcountry routes for you. You could also try your hand at cross-country skiing and get a feel for how it goes being off the beaten track. In addition to this, look into backcountry hut trips during the winter and guided tours!
What are the Mountain Rules & Etiquette When Uphilling?
ASC allows skinning on all of its ski areas, with the rules of the mountains being updated consistently. When uphill skiing on one of the four mountains of Aspen, there are certain policies that everyone must know and abide by so that all skiers, uphill and downhill, can have the best possible experience on the slopes. Rules can vary, but some constant etiquette to familiarize yourself with before skinning include, but are not limited to the following:
- Uphillers must be aware of downhill traffic and avoid blind spots
- As with downhill traffic, uphill traffic must obey all on-mountain signage, including closed runs and rope lines.
- All uphillers must have a valid lift ticket or pass to ride up any lifts.
- Carrying children or babies in backpacks or carriers is not permitted on any mountain at Aspen Skiing Company.
- Uphillers must remain visible at all times, including during hours in which it is dark. Uphillers must stay on the side of the trail and single file. Lights and reflective clothing are recommended for nighttime ascents or early morning ascents.
- Uphillers must use designated uphill tracks stated on our 4 mountains. Designated trails are marked by orange signs, and in some cases, marked with rope to designate a lane
- Some trails may be closed to uphill traffic during pre/post season while snowmaking and grooming operations are in effect. Please respect these closures at all times.
Other policies can change from mountain to mountain and updates on these can be found here:
If you continue to uphill ski during the off-season, certain rules about times and routes may no longer apply, but your manners and etiquette must be kept – make the mountain enjoyable for everyone!
Now that you have chosen your route, and are feeling comfortable enough to head out there, it’s time to make a few last preparations before you can start your journey. Being properly prepared before skinning is vital, particularly on long excursions that may take up your whole day. Here is some advice to help make sure your hike is as smooth as possible.
Check the weather
Before you set out on your activity, make sure to have a final check on the weather. Nothing is worse then when you are about start skinning, it’s starts snowing, and you haven’t packed your jacket! Equally if it’s too hot and you haven’t got the right gear, you’ll feel all cluttered and hot! Checking the weather lets you prepare fully for the day ahead.
As opposed to normal skiing, you’ll need to pack a few more things than just your ski gear. You’ll be out hiking and skiing potentially for hours, so it’s important to bring everything you’ll need to stay safe and healthy. Firstly, you really don’t want to forget your water. Staying hydrated is a key part of exercise and doesn’t change on the slopes!
Don’t forget to pack yourself some sunscreen also. You may forget about being sunburnt as you are surrounded by snow, but trust us, sunburn can hit just as bad during winter. Sunglasses are a very useful accessory also!
If you are thinking of going a little more off-piste with your skiing then make sure you pack a signaling beacon and shovel – just in case.
Uphill Activities in Aspen & Things to Look Forward To
Once you are comfortable going uphill, you may want to expand your horizons and look for further activities that can get you out skinning. Aspen and Snowmass are full of various events, clinics and meetings all based around uphill skiing. Whether you want to explore more or simply master the craft, there are plenty of options for keeping yourself on the mountain.
Aspen SkiCo offers group clinics on various dates throughout the winter. These one day clinics will give you everything you need to know from technique to etiquette and uphill policies on the mountain.
Full Moon Hikes
On the night of the full moon, every month many skiers make the trip up Buttermilk Mountain. The full moon hike has become a great tradition in Aspen. Locals skin or hike up to the Cliffhouse Restaurant for a full moon dinner every month. Unfortunately the dinner’s have been on hold due to covid but this definitely something to look out for in the future.
If you are feeling confident in both your hiking and skiing abilities then it might be time to look into one of Aspen’s touring races. Every year Aspen has multiple events to put locals to the test in both fitness and downhill ski speed.
Summit for Life
The Summit for Life is an annual race which occurs on Aspen Mountain. Entrants try to summit Aspen mountain on skis while also raising vital fund for organ & tissue donation. The race was virtual this year in the sense that participants record their own time going solo. This even is for a great cause and something to look out for next year.
AUDI Power of Four
The Power of Four race is an annual premier endurance event unique to Aspen and Snowmass. It is a race that truly tests the limits and skills of Aspen’s athletes. Under different categories, participants will hike up and subsequently ski down all four of Aspen’s mountains in a one day event. A smaller race, called the Power of Two, also takes place on Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain.
Where else Can I uphill near aspen?
There are also many options with a short travel from Aspen where you can get your uphill fix. Similar to the four mountains of Aspen, other ski resorts and mountains will let you skin uphill during certain hours.
Sunlight Resort near Glenwood Springs is a great day out, and we recommend a trip to Loveland or A-Basin for a new uphill experience.
For the more experienced uphill skiers why not check out backcountryskiingco.com for details on common peak to ascend.
What is the best skinning route for a beginner?
The best routes we recommend for beginner uphill skiers would be the West Buttermilk Route or else the Elk Camp Route in Snowmass. We also love a quick hike up to Kleenex Corner on Aspen Mountain on a sunny evening.
What months can you uphill ski in Aspen?
Skinning is an activity that is available all winter in Aspen. So you have access to the snowy slopes from November until April every year.
Do I have to pay to uphill ski in Aspen?
SkiCo will require anyone skinning, snow-shoeing or walking uphill to have a pass for the season. This will be included in the usual Premier Pass for season long skiers, however for those of you that will only be uphill skiing , you will have to buy a separate pass. The pass is $69 for the season and will cover all four of Aspen’s mountains. Holder’s of the pass will receive an armband and an Aspen photo card to present on the mountain.
What’s the difference between skinning & cross-country skiing?
Although both forms are great exercise they have slightly different goals and outcomes. Cross-country skiing is aimed more at covering large amount of distance over flat ground, whereas uphill skiing is a pure uphill ascent followed by a ski down on the slopes as normal. They both use different skis, bindings and techniques. Be careful not to confuse your gear when doing either!
Should I buy or Rent skinning gear?
For your first couple of times, why not use some rental skis so that you get a pair that feel right for you. Different sizes can he harder to uphill with for some people and of course you have to think about your level of skiing on the way down. After you feel comfortable, look into buying your own set of skis and skins. Good options can be found for all levels. Check out end of seasons sales if local sports shops such as Four Mountain Sports.
Where Can I Rent Skins & Skis in Aspen?
Uphill ski rentals can be found in most ski shops across Aspen and Snowmass during the season. Four Mountain Sports will have all of the latest options and give you great recommendations on where to go and the right gear for you.
What is backcountry skiing?
Backcountry skiing or “off-piste” skiing is skiing done outside of the typical ski slope boundaries. Skiers that want that little extra adrenalin, hike to find unmarked and un-groomed runs to chase the best powder they can find. It’s relevant here as most backcountry skiers will skin up to their destination peak.
The best backcountry skiing in Aspen?
Some of the best backcountry skiing in Colorado can be found along the Castle Creek Valley on the way to Ashcroft. For experts we suggest trying Five Fingers which is beyond the Highlands Bowl. Always prepare properly and know your routes before heading for backcountry skiing.
Can I uphill ski during off season in Aspen?
In theory, yes. Aspen SkiCo does not usually maintain the slopes or any ski patrol during the off season when you may still have a couple of weeks of skiable snow. That being said, they do not enforce any measure to stop you from going on the mountain. Many locals will skin up during off season for that last bit of skiing. Getting on the mountain after the season is at your own risk.
Can I get Uphill Skiing Lessons?
Of course! There are many group clinics in Aspen to get you into the great activity of uphill skiing. You can also book private lessons with one of Aspen’s ski pros at AspenSnowmass.com
So Are You ready to get out there and start uphill skiing?
Are you looking forward to skinning up any of our four mountains? Having your choice of runs, possibly at any time of day? Do you want to have your own time and space on the mountain?
Imagine, no long lift lines. No crowded slopes and lovely fresh powder all to yourself. Picture yourself not only skiing beautiful lines, but rewarding runs after a great day’s exercise. An all round beneficial activity great for your mind & body.
Now that you’ve got all the info on how to prepare and where to go, start exploring the designated uphill routes on the four mountains of Aspen and find out why uphill skiing is so popular.
Once your experienced Aspen and even Colorado are truly your oyster as there so many trails and slopes to explore. Work your way through harder terrain and you will soon be addicted to this activity we all know and love in Aspen. Get out there, respect the mountain & happy skiing!
If you’re looking for even more skiing in Aspen, check out our complete guide to cross-country skiing in Aspen & Snowmass. Get all the local info you need to cross-country ski whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to explore new areas.
Are you looking for something different to do this winter — something besides alpine skiing or snowboarding? How about some cross-country skiing in Aspen and Snowmass?
Maybe you’re a little bored with the slopes. Or you’re not sure you want to deal with crowded lift lines and on-mountain restaurants. Maybe you’re still a little nervous about getting exposed to Covid-19 on the chair lift or gondola.
But you still want to get out onto the snow for some recreation and fun in the sun. Don’t you?
An Aspen cross-country skiing adventure might be just what you need. It’s healthy, refreshing, and naturally socially distanced.
If you’ve done it before, you know it’s a blast. It gets you outside, connected with nature, and it gets your blood pumping, your muscles cranking, and your lungs working. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should check it out because it’s really catching on.
In fact, …
Cross-Country Skiing’s Popularity Exploded in 2021: What the Heck Happened?
In a word – Covid-19.
A survey conducted by the Cross-Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) in December 2020, revealed that in 2021, winter sports enthusiasts were most interested in “… local activities that allow them to control their risks but continue to get on snow.” Along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing topped the list.
And it looks like that trend is continuing. According to the CCSAA’s 2021 Impact Report:
“…The last 18 months have been unprecedented for cross country skiing and all outdoor activities. Many Nordic Centers, retailers and suppliers have had record setting seasons for sales and participation…
…We are anticipating a very busy 2021/22 season with continued record growth in the industry. All indications are that participation and sales in cross country skiing, back country touring, snowshoeing and snow biking will continue to increase at record rates…”
The popularity of cross-country skiing in Aspen and Snowmass skyrocketed in 2020-2021 and continues to surge in 2022 as well. It’s easy to see why.
The Benefits of Cross-Country Skiing: Why You Should Be Doing It Too
One of the most obvious benefits of cross-country skiing in 2021, is that it is a Covid-19 friendly activity. But there are also a lot of other reasons to hit the trails this season:
- It’s fun! It gets you outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, and away from the raucous crowds
- It’s scenic and allows you to connect with the beauty of nature
- It’s healthy and a great form of exercise. Among other things, it is:
- great for cardio and endurance
- low impact and weight-bearing
- a full-body workout
- a burner of a lot of calories
- a great way to get in shape for other sports (like hiking, cycling, running, and anything that uses your core)
- It’s easy to learn. It uses natural movements and doesn’t require special skills to get started
- Cross-country is more accessible than other winter outdoor sports. You usually don’t have to travel far to get to a skiable location as you would with alpine skiing
- It is relatively inexpensive compared to other winter outdoor sports. You’ll find lots of free trails and passes to paid areas are generally quite reasonable
- It’s available and enjoyable for virtually any age. Make it a family affair – bring the kids AND the grandparents along.
- Designated trails are pet friendly. Your dogs will love it too
- You can be more casual. You can go at your own pace and at times that are convenient for you
Have we convinced you yet?
If that’s the case, click through to the section below titled “Where to Cross-Country Ski in Aspen and Snowmass: So Many Trails to Choose From.” Here you will get the juicy details on where to go cross-country skiing in Aspen and Snowmass.
But if you’re unfamiliar with the sport or you’re not sure if it’s for you, read on, and we’ll tell you what you need to know to get started.
What is Cross-Country Skiing Anyway?
Cross-country skiing is a type of Nordic skiing that relies on self-propulsion (rather than gravity, alone) to glide across snowy terrain. Skiers move using a combination of striding with the legs and pulling with the arms and shoulders. It is done on designated courses and trails groomed specifically for the activity as well as on ungroomed, often mountainous terrain.
There are several distinct styles of cross-country skiing, and they all use a basic setup of poles and relatively narrow (“skinny”) skis with boots attached at the toes. The heels remain free to raise when striding. The two most common styles are classic and skating.
Classic skiing uses forward and back, straight-line strides, and a technique called “kick and glide” to move along the snow. For beginners, the motion is very similar to walking or running. Skate skiing uses a side-to-side motion similar to that of an ice or speed skater. Skate skiers propel themselves forward by pushing off the edges of the skies while poling with the upper body.
In general, skating allows participants to move faster than those using classic skis. And while similar, the specific gear used for each style is designed with the difference in motion in mind.
Here’s a video from Salomon that demonstrates the difference between the two styles:
Cross-Country Skiing Equipment: Choose the Right Gear Before You Go
Having the proper equipment makes all the difference in how much you’ll enjoy your time out on the snow. So make sure you select the proper skis, poles, boots, and bindings when you head out on the trails.
Here’s a quick video from PSIA-AASI to give you the general idea:
Remember, the style of skiing you choose determines the basic type of equipment you need. But there are other considerations as well. Classic skis can be waxable or waxless. And if you plan to ski off-track or in the backcountry, you might consider using alpine touring skis with metal edges to give you more control on steep descents.
If you’re a complete newbie, we suggest you enlist the help of a local sporting goods store to get you on the right track. But in the meantime here’s a good general guide from REI for choosing the right gear: “How to Choose Cross-Country Ski Gear.”
Clothing for Cross-Country Skiing: It’s More About Comfort than Style
Weather conditions and temperature on the trails can vary greatly, from location to location, day to day, and even hour to hour. So, what clothing should you wear when you hit the trails?
Unless you’re in a competition or are a model out for a photoshoot, it’s all about staying safe and comfortable. And when it comes to staying comfortable, there’s one system that works the best to keep you unencumbered, warm (but not overheated), and dry: dress in layers.
For Your Body
Here are some basic layering suggestions for your torso and legs, starting from the inside (next to the skin) out:
- Underwear: Wet skin is not only uncomfortable, but it also makes you colder, even to the point of contributing to hypothermia. So, choose a moisture-wicking material like silk, polyester, or non-itchy and odor-fighting merino wool.
- Base Layer: For this layer, choose a close-fitting (but flexible), silk, polyester, wool, or polyester-wool blend material. Base your choice of thickness on the anticipated temperature of where you will be skiing. Long underwear of an appropriate material works well for both your torso and your legs.
- Middle Layer(s): Middle Layers, like sweaters, sweatshirts, vests, or light jackets, provide additional warmth between the base layer and outer layer. These should also be made from a moisture-wicking material. But they should be light enough and loose enough to allow for freedom of movement.
If it’s going to be really cold, consider adding additional middle layers, but on warmer days, you might want to skip them altogether. Most of the time you will not need a middle layer for your legs
- Outer Layer: Ideally, your outer layer should be windproof in the front, water-resistant, breathable, and flexible. Light to mid-weight jackets work best for your torso. And water-resistant soft-shell Nordic ski pants, winter biking or running pants, or spandex tights (in warmer temperatures) work well for your legs.
One final note: avoid wearing cotton clothing (which won’t wick moisture well), non-breathable synthetics, and down (which does not maintain heat when wet).
For more tips on what clothing to wear, check out this guide from REI: “What to Wear Cross-Country Skiing.”
On Your Head
If your head’s cold, you will be too, but conversely, in warmer temperatures, a too-warm head will overheat you quickly.
In the cold, a light wool or fleece hat will usually suffice, but if it’s REALLY cold, consider a ski mask or balaclava. Or if you just need extra warmth for your ears, wear a headband as well. In warmer weather, stick with just the headband or use a light cap with a visor.
On Your Hands
As with your head, what you wear for gloves depends on the temperatures you expect to find. Very cold days might call for mittens, while the warmest days may dictate very light, thin gloves.
Between these extremes, you should use a layering system consisting of glove liners and medium-weight windproof gloves. Bulky alpine ski gloves or mittens do not work well with conventional cross-country ski pole straps.
For Your Feet
If your feet are uncomfortable while you’re skiing, you will be miserable. You don’t want to restrict blood flow, nor do you want your feet sweating too much or swimming around creating blisters.
So, start with the right kind of socks. We recommend wearing a single a base layer of liner or medium-weight socks under insulating socks made of moisture-wicking thin synthetic or wool.
The entire setup should not be too tight in the boot nor too hot, and it should come up high enough to help keep snow out of the boot.
Extra Tips to Keep Your Hand and Feet Warm
If standard socks and gloves just aren’t enough to do the trick, you can get some extra help keeping your hands and feet warm. Here are some tips:
- For your hands, consider a hand warmer layer or electric gloves.
- For your feet, start with fresh, dry socks. If your feet are damp or sweaty to begin with, you’re already at a disadvantage. You can also try toe warmers and/or electric insoles if they are not too bulky. If you’re desperate, add a boot cover on top.
Accessories for a More Enjoyable Experience
There are a few other items you’ll want to use, or at least consider, for your excursions on the trails or in the backcountry:
- Sunglasses: Some sort of eye protection (from wind and sun) is a must. We suggest sunglasses instead of goggles because they do not fog up as easily. Optimally, have two pairs available: dark lenses for sunny days, and amber lenses for when the light is flat.
- Sunscreen: Also a must, as even modest exposure to the sun (especially at higher elevations) can damage your skin and even cause cancer. We suggest using a product with an SPF of at least 30.
- First aid kit: You should ensure that first aid is readily available regardless of where you will be skiing. If you will be at a designated ski area, they likely provide this service. If you are going off-trail or into the backcountry, bring your own.
- Water or other fluids for hydration: This is a physically demanding activity, so make sure you avoid getting dehydrated. Carry water or an alternative with you, or have it readily available in your vehicle.
- Backpack: Most casual Nordic skiing is best done without the burden of a backpack. But if you are going to be out for several hours, you might want to use one to carry water, sunglasses, and a first aid kit. They are also useful for carrying extra layers if you expect varying conditions.
- Gaiters: We already discussed boot covers to help keep your feet warm and dry, but you might also want to consider using gaiters to keep snow out of your boots, especially if you will be in deeper snow.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, knowing what to bring and wear on the trails takes a bit of “trial and discovery”. So, start with the basics as outlined above. Note what works and what doesn’t, and adjust as necessary.
Where to Cross-Country Ski in Aspen (Our Favorite Trails and Why We Love Them)
People often ask where to cross-country ski in Aspen and Snowmass. Or they ask, “Where are the best places to go cross-country skiing in Aspen and Snowmass?”
The vast Aspen Snowmass Nordic System offers an unbelievable 90 km of FREE and accessible cross-country ski trails between Aspen and Basalt. Often called the area’s “Fifth Mountain,” It’s considered one of the best Nordic skiing venues in all of North America.
Most of the trails are easy to access and feature varied terrain. Whether you prefer skate skiing or classic skiing, you’ll find flat, fully groomed trails for beginners and challenging slopes for the more fit and adventurous. And everything in between.
But each one has its own flavor and character. . And while we like them all, here’s our selection of the best cross-country skiing trails in aspen.
Aspen Cross Country Center
The Aspen Cross Country Nordic Center is located five minutes from town at the Aspen Municipal Golf Course. It provides ample parking and is the gateway to the Aspen Golf Course tracks and other nearby trails.
The center offers equipment sales and rentals, classic and skating lessons. It also has related gear and accessories (in case you forget your glide wax or any other necessities). And you can get the latest local skiing and trail information.
The trails are mostly low-pitched. But they do offer some variety for the more advanced cross-country skier. They provide plenty of exercise for skiers of all abilities and an effective way to get your ski legs under you if it’s been a while. This is an excellent location for a quick workout or just a breath of fresh air in the middle or end of the day.
The trails comfortably accommodate sizable groups and families with skiers of mixed abilities. And you can even bring your pooch to the Bernese Boulevard section (see below). And you can also connect to many other Aspen Snowmass Nordic System trails from here.
Length: 5 miles | 8 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Easy
It’s Perfect For: Beginners and Families with younger children
Access and Parking: 5 minute, 1.8-mile drive from the Aspen Core. Free city bus service available. On-site Parking available
Aspen High School Trails
These trails offer some of the finest intermediate and advanced terrain for cross-country skiing in Aspen. They feature a captivating combination of wide-open hilly meadows, steep climbs, and breathtaking descents. And they also include a couple of flat loops that are ideal for casual skiing, technique work, or just an exhilarating aerobic workout.
We love these trails because of the variety (it’s like interval training). And the long and sometimes steep descents offer an incredible reward for all that uphilling in between. It’s also close to town, has easy, ample parking, and connects to some of our other favorite trails, like the Moore trail and the Owl Creek Trails (see below).
Finally, it’s hard to beat the views of Rocky Mountain grandeur: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Pyramid Peak, the Hunter Creek Valley, and Mount Sopris.
Length: 3.1 and 6.2–mile loops | 5 and 10 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced
Who it’s Perfect For: Thrill seekers, workout junkies, those working on their uphill skiing technique
Access and Parking: Public parking is available at the Aspen Recreation Center on weekdays or in the Middle School parking lot on weekends. Free city bus service available
This popular loop winds through the rolling sage-covered hills between Highway 82 and the High School Trail. It is centrally located and connects to the Maroon Creek Club and Owl Creek trails.
The terrain is varied, but not too advanced, and is suitable for all but beginning skiers. And you might get to see some wildlife (foxes, deer, and rabbits) along the way.
As a bonus, the trail skirts the beloved Whoa Nelly sledding hill next to the Aspen Recreation Center. All that youthful exuberance is sure to pump you up as you slide by.
Length: 1.86 miles | 3 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Who it’s Perfect For: Variety seekers, workout enthusiasts, wildlife viewers, and those looking to connect to other nearby trails
Access and Parking:
Parking is available at the Golf Course, via a Highway 82 underpass, or the Aspen Recreation Center. You can also reach the trail from the High School, Maroon Creek Club, and Owl Creek trails.
Snowmass Cross-Country Nordic Ski Center
The Snowmass Cross Country Center is the hub of cross-country skiing in Snowmass. It is located on the Snowmass Golf Course and features a retail shop, restaurant, and snack bar. It also offers lessons, equipment rentals, and tours.
The main trail offers scenic, rolling terrain. It also connects to a network of minor trails that feature a wide variety of hilly or low-pitched loops.
This is one of our favorites due to its varied terrain and expansive views of the upper Roaring Fork Valley. And we’re thrilled you can bring your pooch along if you stay on the Labrador Lane section.
Length: Over 5 miles | 8 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Easy to advanced (but is mostly intermediate)
Who it’s Perfect For: Those seeking variety and an abundance of terrain.
Access and Parking: Access via Brush Creek Road. Parking is located at the Snowmass Cross-Country Center located off Brush Creek Road.
North Star Nature Preserve Loop
This is one of the most scenic trails in the area. This relatively flat track loops around a meadowy section of the pristine 175-acre North Star Nature Preserve, just east of Aspen. It runs close to the Roaring Fork River and offers relaxing views of Independence Pass and the Elk Mountain Range.
The groomed trail is usually uncrowded and is great for small groups or families with skiers of mixed ability seeking some fresh air and fun in the sun. It’s also perfect for individuals looking for a bit of serenity close to town.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the ducks, geese, and blue herons that call this preserve home.
Length: A little over 2 miles | 3.2 Kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Easy
It’s Perfect For: Beginners, casual skiers, and nature lovers
Access and Parking: The main trail parking area is about 2 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82. There is another small parking area about .5 miles further east.
Owl Creek Trail
This groomed 9-mile, point-to-point trail connects Aspen to Snowmass and is one of the gems of the Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and nearby Aspen groves as it takes you through mountain meadows and rolling hills.
Some parts of the trail, particularly on the eastern end (from the Aspen Nordic Ski Center to West Buttermilk), have challenging climbs and steep descents. But skiers seeking a less difficult experience can access or leave the trail near a small parking area located on West Buttermilk Road. From Snowmass, the casual skier often begins at the Snowmass Golf Course trails.
We think this is one of the best cross-country skiing trails in Aspen because it is ideal for an all-day adventure. It features stunning views, gorgeous scenery, and plenty of fresh air. We also like the idea that it connects our two favorite towns. And there’s a good chance you’ll see some wildlife along many sections of the trail!
Length: 9 miles | 14.5 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Intermediate (but beginners and advanced skiers will love it too)
Who it’s Perfect For: Excursion seekers, wildlife viewers, nature lovers, exercise aficionados
Access and Parking:
From Snowmass Village:
Take the Village Way Trail or begin at the Snowmass Cross-Country Nordic Center. There will be signs to guide you. Parking is available at either of these areas or you can take the RFTA bus.
- West Buttermilk Road: Turn off Highway 82 at the main Buttermilk parking lot. Continue through the lot and catch the West Buttermilk Road (at the far-right corner). About 1.4 miles up West Buttermilk Road there is a small parking area on the right where the Owl Creek Trail crosses the road.
- Tiehack (for experienced or more advanced skiers): ski from the base of Tiehack towards main Buttermilk along the right side of the alpine trail to the Oregon Trail. Then continue towards and across Main Buttermilk to West Buttermilk. Follow the green disks. You should also be mindful of occasional temporary trail closure signs posted by the Aspen Skiing Company.
- Aspen Golf Course: Take the underpass to the James E. Moore Trail and use the new Tiehack Nordic Bridge to get to the base of Tiehack
Parking is available at the endpoints of the trail (the Aspen Cross Country Center or the Snowmass Cross-Country Center). You may also park at the Aspen Recreation Center, the base of Tiehack, West Buttermilk Road, or at the Tom Blake Trailhead in Snowmass.
RFTA bus service is also available to the endpoints and the Aspen Recreation Center.
The scenery on Independence Pass is as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer. And the cross-country ski trail, which follows the road, lets you take it all in and get as much exercise as you’d like.
The path is not officially groomed, but foot traffic, fat-tire bikes, and snowmobiles typically flatten it down nicely.
The trail runs the full 40-mile length of the Pass, but most skiers do not venture beyond the Lincoln Creek Road turn-off (just past mile marker 51). This is due to increasingly rougher terrain and the potential for avalanches.
We love this trail because you can get a great workout while soaking up breathtaking scenery all around. And, after all that arduous work going up, the casual, long descent is an unbelievable reward.
Length: about 4 miles to Lincoln Creek Road | 6.4 kilometers
Overall Trail Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Who it’s Perfect For: Nature lovers, casual skiers, view seekers
Access and Parking: Access via Highway 82, Independence Pass Road, approximately 5 miles from the Aspen city limits. Ample parking is available at the highway closure parking lot (on the left of Highway 82 as you approach from Aspen). However, this often fills up due to the popularity of the trail
Other Popular Trails Nearby
Ashcroft Cross-Country Skiing – Pine Creek Cookhouse
This privately-owned ski area is located in the White River National Forest just outside of Aspen, about 12 miles up the Castle Creek Valley. It offers more than 20 miles of exquisitely groomed trails amidst the beautiful rolling hills near the ghost town of Ashcroft. It is associated with the renowned Pine Creek Cookhouse restaurant and is the gateway to several winter touring huts.
Maroon Bells Cross-Country Skiing – Maroon Creek Road (CR 13)
The Maroon Creek Road trail offers perhaps the most spectacular scenery of all the local and nearby trails. It takes you on a moderate uphill grade from T-Lazy-7 Ranch to Maroon Lake. Be aware, however, that the road is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter and the Nordic tracks are groomed daily by T-Lazy-7 Ranch.
This trail reveals breathtaking views of the Maroon Bells along the way. And it offers the chance to see a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, and even moose.
It does, however, lie within several known avalanche paths that occasionally cross the road. It is also shared with snowmobile tours from T-Lazy-7 Ranch, so consult with them before you go (970- 925-4614).
Aspen Snowmass Cross Country Trail Grooming Status: The Nordic Hotline
For the latest trail grooming and ski conditions report, please visit aspennordic.com. You may also call their hotline at 970-429-2039, ext 4. This report is updated regularly.
Wrapping It All Up—Which Do You Think Are the Best Cross-Country Skiing Trails in Aspen?
So now the choice is yours.
We’ve given you our opinion on where to cross-country ski in Aspen and Snowmass. It’s time for you to get out there and give some (or all of them) a try. Then you can decide for yourself where’s the best place to go cross country skiing in Aspen and Snowmass.
Aspen Cross-Country Ski Rental: Take the Hassle Out of Getting Geared Up
Having the right gear makes the experience easier, more enjoyable, and safer.
If you don’t ski often, or if you’re new and not sure you will like it, it can be less expensive to rent the equipment. And you’ll get to use the latest and greatest gear.
How to Choose the Right Rental Equipment
It’s best to rent your equipment from the pros to ensure you get the proper fit and performance. They’ll base their suggestions primarily on your weight, ability, and skiing style, but it also helps to answer the following questions:
Will you be skiing classic or skate skiing?
How hard do you plan to ski?
What locations will you be skiing?
Do you think you’re just trying it out for a day or are you planning to use it for several outings?
Are you going to purchase similar equipment if you enjoy your experience?
For a reminder of equipment basics, please read the “Cross-Country Skiing Equipment: Choose the Right Gear Before You Go” section above.
Where to Rent Cross-Country Skiing Equipment in Aspen and Snowmass
You can rent equipment from several local sporting goods stores, but your best bet is to start with the Aspen and Snowmass Cross-Country Centers.
Other local equipment rental options are:
Cross-Country Ski Lessons in Aspen and Snowmass: Feel like a Pro Right from the Start
If you’re a beginner, taking a few lessons from the local pros before you set out on your own can make the difference between a miserable or epic experience.
This season, 45-minute group lessons cost $45 per adult and $20 per child and are limited to 4 people. Private Lessons start at $45 for ½ hour and are by appointment only. These prices do not include the cost of equipment rentals, which are available at a 20% discount if you are using them for lessons. Reservations are required and must be made 24 hours in advance. Contact the Snowmass or Aspen Cross-Country Centers or visit aspennordic.com for more detailed information.
Guided Cross-Country Tours and Winter Hut Trips
If you’re feeling more adventurous, an off-trail outing or multi-day hut trip in the Aspen and Snowmass area might be just what you’re looking for.
If you are seeking a full-day or half-day excursion, the Aspen Nordic Center offers guided tours on the Owl Creek Trail, Ashcroft, North Star Nature Preserve, and the Moore trails. The Ashcroft Touring Center also offers tours.
In Snowmass, the Snowmass Cross-Country Nordic Center provides guided tours on their trails and into the backcountry nearby.
The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association maintains a network of over 30 huts and more than 350 miles of connecting trails between Aspen, Leadville, and Vail. The trails run through the White River, Arapaho, and San Isabel National forests and range in elevation from 9,700 to 11,700 feet.
The huts were used originally for high-elevation training for soldiers during World War II and have been upgraded and modified for summer and winter trekking. They range from basic to somewhat elaborate and sleep anywhere from 3 to 20 people. They are typically accessible by skiing from November to May, and reservations are required for their use.
Plan Accordingly and Be Prepared
Hut trips are more strenuous than your typical Nordic skiing outing. So make sure you are in good enough physical shape to handle the rigors of the trip and that you have ALL the necessary gear for a successful adventure. This includes adequate clothing, food, water, and first-aid equipment.
Additionally, avalanche safety training, including the proper use of avalanche beacons is a must. And be sure to hone your map navigation skills as well. Finally, if you’ve traveled to Aspen Snowmass from a lower elevation, familiarize yourself with the signs of altitude sickness. And make sure you leave yourself enough time to get acclimated to higher elevations before you start your trip.
If you are experienced, you can plan and undertake these hut trips on your own, but usually the best and safest choice is to take advantage of guided tours and hut trips.
Once you’re comfortable and confident in running a trip yourself, the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association has a guide for choosing your huts and planning and preparing for your adventure, “How to Plan a Hut Trip.”If this is your first hut trip or you have never planned one yourself, we highly suggest hiring a guide. For information about local hut trip guide services, visit the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association’s “Guide Services for the Huts” page.
Aspen Cross-Country Skiing FAQ’s: What You Need to Know to Have a Blast on the Trails
What are the benefits of cross-country skiing?
Cross-country skiing is an ideal activity for your body, mind, and spirit. Here are a few of its main benefits:
- It provides considerable cardiovascular exercise
- You work out many major muscle groups
- It burns lots of calories
- It’s low impact
- You can improve your ability to perceive your spatial location
- It helps to build better balance
- It Improves your visual acuity
- It’s a great cross-training activity
- It gets you outside in the sun and fresh air and lets you connect with nature
- It helps clear your mind and relieves stress
- It’s great for bonding with others
- It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other (winter) sports and activities
Can you ski year-round in Aspen? – What months can you ski in Aspen?
The ski lifts in Aspen and Snowmass are typically open from late November to early April. And the groomed cross-country trails are available for roughly that time as well.
If you’re a diehard, you can find some backcountry skiing well into the late spring and early summer. Check with the Ute Mountaineer or aspennordic.com for current conditions during these times.
Is cross-country skiing harder than snowshoeing?
They are both great ways to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors during the winter. But skiing usually takes longer to learn than snowshoeing. It also requires more upper-body exertion and takes more skill to negotiate downhills.
Is cross-country skiing difficult?
The activity, particularly the skating style, does have a learning curve. And your basic athletic ability and fitness level affect how steep and long this learning curve is. However, most people find it relatively easy to get started moving about a flat, groomed trail with a modified walking motion.
Can you cross-country ski with a baby?
You can ski with a baby, however, it requires a bit more equipment and planning to make it safe and enjoyable. You can use an on-the-chest carrier to hold your baby while skiing, but there are concerns if you fall. So, stick with a ski trailer, pulk, or sled.
Ski trailers elevate your child on poles attached to skis while pulks and sleds ride directly on the snow, supported by a ridged bottom. Pulks and sleds are easier to transport than trailers, but typically require more effort on your part to move along the snow while skiing.
- Practice beforehand with a loaded trailer or sled to get used to maneuvering and pulling the extra weight
- Start on easy, low pitched trails
- Make sure you clothe your child appropriately and use blankets to bundle up your little ones even more.
- Have patience, with yourself and your child, and allow for extra time – for everything
- Know when enough is enough: Unless they’re asleep, babies and toddlers get restless easily, and you want the experience to be fun — for everybody.
How do beginners cross-country ski?
If you’ve never cross-country skied before, watch a few videos and read a few related articles to see it in action. Then, rent equipment and take a lesson from a reputable professional.
What are the two types of cross-country skiing?
The two main styles of cross-country skiing are “classic” and “skating”. Each style involves propelling yourself across the snow on skis using a combination of leg, arm, and shoulder movements. See our section above, “What is Cross-Country Skiing Anyway?” for a more detailed explanation.
At what age can you start cross-country skiing?
While there’s no specific age when a child can cross-country ski on their own skis. But you can introduce them to the sport when they are quite young by pulling them behind you on a trailer or sled. Typically, by the time they are about 5 years old, they should be mature enough physically to try it on their own with the proper guidance and patience. Remember, make it fun!
What size cross-country skis do I need?
In general, to get the proper combination of glide and grip, your weight and ability will determine the recommended ski length. Differences in stiffness (flex), materials, and design also influence the recommendations.
The style of skiing you plan to do (classic, skating, backcountry) also affects proper sizing. Talk to the equipment manufacturers or your local pros before buying or renting your gear to get specific suggestions.
In the meantime, here is a guide for REI to get you started: “How to Choose Cross-Country Ski Gear.”
What are the best cross-country skis for beginners?
If you’re just beginning, focus on ease of use and stability. We suggest you start with classic or light touring skis.
Should I skate ski or classic?
If you’re a beginner, we suggest you begin with the classic style, which more closely mimics walking or jogging. Once you are comfortable maintaining your balance while gliding across the snow, you can give skating a try.
Please see the section above, “What is Cross-Country Skiing Anyway?” for more detailed information
Do you need a helmet for cross-country skiing?
Typically, cross-country skiers do not need to wear helmets. They are bulky and hot, and the likelihood of a serious head injury is much lower than with downhill skiing. However, if you have any pre-existing head injuries, or you are going to be skiing a lot of steep descents, you might consider it.
How Should You Dress for cross-country Skiing?
Clothing should be warm while allowing sufficient freedom of movement. And it should protect you from wind and moisture (from the outside in and the inside out).
Please see the section above, “Clothing for Cross-Country Skiing: It’s More about Comfort than Style,” for the details.
What kind of pants do you wear for cross-country skiing?
You can purchase pants designed specifically for the activity. But many skiers use winter biking pants, winter running pants, or winter leggings if they already have these on hand.
Regardless, it is best to use a layered approach (base, middle, and outer) that will be appropriate for your expected skiing conditions. Please see the section above, “Clothing for Cross-Country Skiing: It’s More about Comfort than Style,” for more detailed information
What muscles does cross-country skiing work?
Nordic skiing provides a full-body workout. It works your arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders, core, and legs.
Therefore, it is good to warm up and stretch before heading out on the trails. Here are some simple suggestions for stretching and warming up: Four Easy Stretches for Cross Country Skiers
Are You Excited to Do Some Cross-Country Skiing in Aspen and Snowmass in 2022/2023?
So, how about it? Are you ready to get off the slopes and onto the trails this year? Want to ditch the crowds and reconnect with nature? Are you looking to get healthy and in shape?
Imagine no crowded lift lines… no getting stuck on a chair or gondola with people you don’t know, who’ve been exposed to who knows what.
Envision freeing yourself from time frames and ticket purchases.
Picture yourself cruising the trails with your friends and family, invigorating your mind, body, and soul.
You can have this!
If you’re a beginner, watch some videos to decide whether you want to try classic or skating. Talk to some local pros to buy or rent some gear, and take a lesson or two. Then re-read our “Where to Cross-Country Ski in Aspen (Our Favorite Trails and Why We Love Them)” section above or visit the aspennordic.com website and pick your trails.
If you’re experienced, find your favorite spots and go. If you’re looking for a bit more of an adventure, contact the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association to plan an exciting hut trip.
It’s time to get out there — by yourself or with family or friends — and have some refreshing, healthy fun on the trails!
So you’ve started to explore other ways to ski in Aspen and Snowmass. Another one of our favorite hobbies is uphill skiing, often called “skinning”. Check out our local guide to uphill skiing in Aspen and get to know the routes and policies for skinning in our mountain town!
We get it…
You’re sick and tired of hunkering down at home, on-edge and bored to tears, controlled by the Covid-19 pandemic–we all are. You’re desperate to get away, to do something fun before you lose your mind. Well… the Aspen 2020/2021 ski season might provide the solution.
If you love winter as much as we do, some outdoor fun in the sun and snow might be just what the doctor ordered. So why not take a ski vacation in beautiful Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado?
We know… you’re not sure if it’s safe or if the resorts will even be open. You’re wondering if it will still be fun. And you’re worried you might lose your reservation money if things get locked down again before you’re scheduled to arrive (or after you get there).
Well, we have some good news for you!
Aspen Snowmass is open and is planning for a fantastic 2020/2021 ski season. The Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) and local community are bending over backward to ensure that you’ll be safe and that the mountains, restaurants, and shops are open and ready to welcome you.
We’re doing everything we can to make sure you have as enjoyable and memorable winter vacation as ever. But, if we need to shut things down again to protect your health and safety, we’ve got you covered there as well.
The Mountains Will Be Open and Prioritizing Safety
The SkiCo has worked tirelessly to get all the necessary plans and procedures in place to safely begin the 2020/2021 ski season. Here are the opening dates for the local mountains:
Aspen Snowmass Opening Dates
Aspen Mountain – November 26
Snowmass – November 26
Aspen Highlands – December 12
Buttermilk – December 18
Keeping You Safe
The SkiCo is still finalizing Covid-19-related plans and procedures. They will follow local public health department and State of Colorado guidelines.
They will, as required, present final plans to local public health departments (lpha) for approval. Once approved, the lpha will submit the plans to the state for final sign-off before the season begins.
Here are some of the procedures and requirements already in the plan:
Masks Will Be Required
Staff and guests will be required to cover their mouths and noses in lift lines and public areas of lodges. They will also be required when entering and moving about in on-mountain restaurants and when riding area shuttles.
Physical Distancing Will Be Facilitated and Enforced
Keeping individuals and unrelated parties physically separated is an integral part of the safety plan. Here are some of the specifics:
- The SkiCo will require parties in lift lines to be separated by at least 6 feet in all directions and will also provide appropriate reminder signs. Their employees will monitor this as well. Additionally, they will realign lift lines and will include “ghost” lanes to provide maximum lift line customer spacing
- Gondola cabin and lift chair capacity will be limited according to state guidelines. Specifically: “Ski area guests will not be required to ride on a chairlift or gondola with people outside of their party. Individuals who are not from the same party may ride a chairlift together with a minimum of one seat separating the unrelated individuals or parties; however, ski areas should generally encourage more space between different parties when possible.”
- The SkiCo will also set up outdoor tents outside five of the ski areas’ restaurants to increase space for socially-distanced on-mountain dining.
Contactless Is the Name of the Game
To further limit close contact between individuals, the SkiCo will provide the following contactless features:
- Touchless lift ticket kiosks
- Grab-and-Go meals from the on-mountain restaurants
- Mobile app access to add additional days to lift tickets, order and pay for meals, and pay for lessons and rentals.
Tickets, Reservations, and Cancellation Policies
Ticket and Pass Information
The Aspen Skiing Company works hard to provide a pass and ticketing program that optimizes the experience for passholders, day ticket guests, and the local community. This includes local, Ikon, and Mountain passholders. The focus is on effective social distancing and volume management.
Please visit their website for current options tickets and passes for the 2020/2021 Aspen Snowmass ski season.
Will I Need To Make Reservations for the Aspen 2020/2021 Ski Season?
To provide as much flexibility as possible, the SkiCo is avoiding instituting a required mountain access reservation system. But they have developed the capacity to do so if necessary.
According to their website, they may require reservations “across all products” if an increase in community spread of Covid-19 initiates additional restrictions and regulations from state and local health agencies.
If they do decide to launch a reservation system, they will notify concerned parties through targeted emails, their website, and their social media platforms. You may join their email list here to receive important, related communications.
In the meantime, SkiCo is also trying to spread out mountain usage to traditionally “non-peak” times. They are encouraging locals and visitors to ski and snowboard on weekdays instead of just weekends. And they are reminding guests that volume may become limited at any time. So those who have already secured their tickets will be granted priority access.
To limit same-day ticket purchases that might challenge any daily skier caps, they are also rewarding those who plan ahead by offering a 15% discount on all ticket prices if purchased before December 4th, 2020.
What Is the Cancellation and Refund Policy for Aspen Snowmass in 2020/2021?
The State of Colorado guidelines state that ski areas should: “Promote rescheduling and refund flexibility to encourage guests to stay home when sick.”
The SkiCo, for its part, has issued the following statement:
“All unused 2020-2021 season passes are fully refundable through November 20, 2020. After November 20, 2020 passes are nonrefundable and unused days have no value. However, Multi-Event Insurance through Travel Guard is available for purchase to cover your investment. Click here to learn more about Travel Guard.
If we are shut down due to Covid-19 for 10 or more days of the season, we will issue refunds, prorated for each day we are fully shut down compared to our published season dates, for all Aspen Snowmass passes, except the Valley 7-Pack and Classic Pass. For example, if we are forced to shut down entirely for a total of 25% of the days during our published season dates, then all passholders would receive a 25% refund of the purchase price. Refunds will not be issued in the event we implement a reservation system…”
For their most current SkiCo 2020/2021 safety and related information, please visit the “Current Safety Announcements” and “COVID-19 Operating Procedures pages” on their website.
On-Mountain Improvements for 2020/2021
Every season, Aspen Snowmass strives to make your skiing and snowboarding experience better. Here are some of the improvement highlights for 2020/2021:
Snowmaking Capability Added to the Top of Aspen Mountain
Starting this year, Aspen Mountain will finally have “top-to-bottom” snowmaking. They recently added this capability to portions of the Silver Bell Trail. This provides man-made snow from the summit of the mountain to the previous snowmaking upper limit.
Even if early season conditions are dry, skiers and Snowboarders will now be able to enjoy the upper portions of the mountain once temperatures dip and stay low enough to make snow.
New Six-Passenger, High-Speed Chairlift in Snowmass
The SkiCo has also recently replaced the Big Burn lift on Snowmass with a new high-speed, six-passenger chairlift. This will cut the ride time to just seven minutes and will assist with current Covid-19 physical distancing measures.
Please visit the Aspen Snowmass website for information about other recent improvements at Snowmass.
How Will This Affect Uphill skiing?
Uphill skiing will likely be popular and encouraged during the 2020/2021 ski season in Aspen and Snowmass.
The SkiCo will require uphillers to stick to specifically designated routes. They might monitor these routes for capacity restrictions and even close them, if necessary, to comply with local and State Guidelines.
Aspen Snowmass 2020/2021 Uphilling Policy Highlights
- Buttermilk, Snowmass, and Aspen Highlands: will still provide uphilling access during operating hours
- Aspen Mountain: Same as before – no uphill access during operating hours
- Uphillers will have to follow designated, signed routes during operating hours
- No uphilling allowed during Holiday blackout periods (Dec. 26 through Jan. 2 and Feb. 13 and 14)
- Possible closures of designated routes if capacity limitations are required
What About the Winter X Games and Other Annual Events?
Of course, a winter vacation isn’t just about skiing and snowboarding.
We know many people also plan their ski vacation in Aspen and Snowmass to take advantage of the high-profile annual events that take place here. As with everything else this year, these events have had to be nimble and adjust to the times.
Here is what you can expect in 2020/2021:
Winter X Games
The Aspen Skiing Company is currently moving ahead with tentative plans to host the Winter X Games in 2021, but ESPN is still evaluating the situation.
SkiCo is planning to allow in-person patronage, but they have not determined exactly how this might work.. The current safety environment dictates that the focus might shift to promoting the televised event.
For the latest scoop on the X Games, please visit the Aspen Chamber website for more details.
Bud Light Spring Jam
As far as other large-scale winter and spring events go, such as the Bud Light Spring Jam, we will have to wait for more information and further developments. Here’s a peek at last year’s Spring Jam festivities.
Feel free to contact us at email@example.com | (970) 205-9960 for the latest information on these and other local events.
Aspen and Snowmass Restaurants and Shops Are Open
Many restaurants and retail establishments in Snowmass and Aspen are open and plan to be through the 2020/2021 ski season. They, too, must comply with local and State of Colorado guidelines.
Here are the “5 Commitments of Containment” mandated by the Pitkin County Health Department:
- Maintain at least 6 feet of social distance
- Wash your hands often
- Cover your face in public
- Stay home when you’re sick
- Get tested immediately if you have symptoms
5 Top Outdoor Activities to Do in Aspen and Snowmass Besides Skiing and Snowboarding
Alpine skiing and snowboarding, dining, and shopping are not the only things to do outside around here in the winter.
Here are 5 popular Aspen Snowmass winter activities you might want to explore that will keep you outside and away from the crowds:
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org | (970) 205-9960 for more information about these and other local outdoor winter activities.
How We Will Protect You in Our Snowmass and Aspen Vacation Rentals
At Aspen Luxury Vacation Rentals, your health and safety are our primary concerns.
Health and Safety
As a professional vacation management company, we employ strict cleaning and social distancing protocols. And we feature contact-free check-ins and check-outs.
We comply with local and federal guidelines, as well as the VRMA & VRHP’s Safe Home Campaign. We provide Certified Vacation Rental Housekeepers (CVRH) and Certified Vacation Rental Inspectors (CVRI) to ensure cleanliness and safety.
Please visit our Covid-19 page for more details.
Our Cancellation Policy
We are currently updating our Cancellation Policy in consideration of present health concerns and the current Pitkin County Public Health orders.
Please contact us directly for the most up-to-date information: (970) 205-9960 | email@example.com.
We also strongly encourage you to consider purchasing travel insurance for your Aspen Snowmass vacation this winter. We work with Red Sky Travel Insurance. They offer plans that cover certain cancellation penalties and emergency medical costs associated with your visit. They also provide access to a wide range of other traveler assistance services.
Planning Ahead Is the Key To A Memorable Winter Vacation in Aspen and Snowmass in 2020/2021
No one knows for sure how the 2020/2021 winter will play out, but planning well and staying informed are the best ways to guard against any real surprises.
We’re optimistic for another great ski season and passionately believe that an Aspen and Snowmass winter vacation is the cure for your stuck inside at home, pandemic blues. And we understand your safety concerns and your uncertainty about the availability of all your favorite activities, restaurants, and shops. We know you’re wondering about various refund and cancellation policies.
So, let us help put your mind at ease…
Visit the resources highlighted above, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org | (970) 205-9960, or enter your contact information below, and we’ll keep you informed on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay to get the most from your 2020/2021 Aspen and Snowmass winter vacation.