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Destination Guide: Aspen
Ski Resort Guide - Aspen
Favoured by Hollywood’s finest, Aspen is nestled high up in the Rockies, amongst tranquil lakes, forested wilderness and jagged peaks - and it offers world-beating skiing.
The high altitude ensures reliable snow, and the combination of four ski areas provides Aspen and neighbouring Snowmass with plenty for all abilities. There is also plenty for non-skiers such as ice skating, indoor climbing, and of course retail therapy.
The summer season is buzzing, and the ski lifts remain open, putting mountain biking and hiking adventures on the menu. Rafting on the Colorado River, playing golf and tennis, and fishing in the lakes are popular summer activities too.
Aspen has a sophisticated vibe and is the venue for jazz and arts festivals, among others, as well as regular winter sports competitions. Art galleries, shops and a concert venue provide plenty of entertainment in the town.
Originally founded as a silver mining town, Aspen turned its remote location and vertiginous mountains to its advantage, becoming a serious ski destination in the 1950s. It has been a top resort ever since. It is reached by road from Denver airport in 4.5 hours, or you can fly direct to Aspen’s small airport, just outside town.
With four extensive ski areas, there’s enough here to keep everyone happy for weeks on end, and they are linked by an efficient free bus service. The Silver Queen gondola is the main ski lift taking you up from the centre of Aspen, and each area has its own network of lifts. Anyone used to the long queues and grumpy service in European resorts will be pleasantly surprised by the Aspen experience.
Buttermilk mountain is a beginners’ paradise, with excellent ski school facilities and extensive nursery slopes to learn on. It is particularly family friendly and also boasts five different snowboard parks.
Snowmass has a lot of wide open green and blue runs for confidence-building. It is excellent for intermediates as well as beginners. The Longshot trail is particularly enjoyable, running for 3 miles through the forest.
Aspen Mountain offers steep and challenging terrain for the more experienced skier, and there are no beginners’ runs here.
The Aspen Highlands are where you can really test your skills on the famed double diamond runs, and head off piste. This is an area favoured by skilled locals, with plenty of back-country skiing.
Best places to eat and drink in Aspen
Aspen is a foodie’s paradise, famous for its numerous, high quality eateries and for the variety of culinary styles. It is possible to eat everything from Sushi to wild boar in Aspen’s smorgasbord of fashionable restaurants.
Just for starters, there is Krabloonik, in Snowmass - a rustic log cabin that you reach by taking a dog sled ride in the twilight. Then there is Jimmy’s - a renowned fine dining restaurant serving classic American dishes such as steaks and seafood.
If you fancy Italian cuisine, creamy burrata and carpaccio are on the menu at the upmarket Casa Tua restaurant in Aspen. Don’t forget lunch at Bonnies, a favourite mountain restaurant, serving home-made delights.
For a refreshing drink, Ajax Tavern is a very popular après-ski bar. But perhaps the town’s most famous bar is The Woody Creek Tavern, famous as Hunter S Thompson’s local hangout. Just remember that if you want to stay out past 2am, you will need to join one of Aspen’s private members’ clubs.
Best time to visit Aspen
The ski season starts from the end of November, although some ski areas stay closed until mid-December. You can ski through to mid-April and the peak time is around Christmas and New Year, and the February holidays.
In summer, Aspen usually stays warm through June to September, peaking at around 25 degrees, but staying cool at night.
What we love about Aspen
We love the ‘big mountain experience’ of Aspen and the breath-taking Rocky Mountains. Superb skiing for all levels, and the atmospheric town centre makes a great combination.
Aspen Quick Facts:
Ski Area: Aspen / Snowmass
Altitude of resort: 2410m
Top lift Altitude: 3813m
Total pistes: 478km
Number of lifts: 46
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