Aspen Ski Resort Profile
Summary: When people say “Aspen”, it is easy to conjure up images of beautiful people in $2,000 ski suits who
zipped over for the day from L.A. While those glamour skiers exist, the loose term of Aspen usually refers to the
Aspen area, home to four quality ski mountains and two unique downtowns. The Aspen area offers something for
everyone, and ranks among the best in terms of offering things to do for the non-skiers in the family.
The two major skiing operations in the Aspen area, Aspen Mountain and Snowmass, could easily be rated as two
different resorts, but we chose to evaluate them as one since they are operated jointly and in such close
proximity to each other. SKI Magazine actually ranked Aspen their #3 overall resort in 2007, and Snowmass #4.
High accolades for this world-class area.
While the town and mountain of Aspen get all the glory, Snowmass may actually be the better family choice.
Snowmass is 10-15 minutes from Aspen, has its own shopping and dining options, and is accessible to downtown
Aspen (where the better dining and nightlife are) via a free shuttle system.
Lift tickets from Aspen Ski Company are actually good for Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, and smaller Buttermilk. You
don’t need to commit to one of the resorts for your entire vacation. Just know that Aspen Mountain offers the
better expert terrain, more of the “glitz” factor, and the swanky après ski nightlife. Snowmass, on the other hand,
provides a more subdued family environment with much more intermediate-level skiing. With nearly 3,100 acres of
terrain, however, Snowmass actually offers more total skiing area than Aspen, just not as much expert terrain.
Lodging Choices: The best ski-in, ski-out options are at Snowmass, but both Aspen and Snowmass offer a wide
array of lodging choices. Aspen is know for high prices, and you will find slightly better deals in the Snowmass
area. Given the free shuttle service, where you stay isn’t as big of an issue as it might be in some other areas
without the transit system.
Terrain / Highest Elevation / Vertical Drop: 4,800 acres (Aspen and Snowmass combined) / 12,500 feet /
Activities for Non-Skiers: Aspen is one of the best destinations in North America if someone in your group
prefers not to ski. Aspen offers an abundance of shopping, great restaurants, and amenities often found only in
upscale communities. Snowmass also offers shopping and eating choices. A non-skiing visit to Aspen will still
result in a traveler feeling like they got away from it all to a great mountainside destination.
Ski School. Ages 2 ½ to 15 can participate in group or private lessons at Snowmass or Buttermilk. Aspen
Highlands requires children to be at a level 5 in order to join in the group lessons.
Day Care: The Treehouse Kids Adventure Center at Snowmass, new this year, provides daycare for ages 8 weeks
to 4 years for both half and full day. If you are willing to spend $350 per day or more, you can have private
“nanny care”, with the same individual watching your child all day. The new Kids Center offers a very active
indoor environment for children.
Getting there: The Aspen / Pitkin County airport just may be offer the shortest airport-to-ski lift distance of any
US resort. The airport is situated in between Aspen and Snowmass, no more than 10 minutes from either. United
flies to Aspen from Denver, Chicago and LA. Delta flies direct from Salt Lake City, and US Air flies direct from
Phoenix. The Pitkin County airport, with the number of airlines serving it and the high volume of flights, is on the
verge of being considered a major airport by our standards.
Aspen is a 4 hour drive from Denver International Airport.
Insider Tip: Even if you stay in moderately priced accommodations, the swanky hotel restaurants and bars can
be a great place to grab a nice breakfast or, if Mom and Dad can find a sitter, after dinner drink. It is a great way
to get the upscale feel of Aspen without paying the higher daily lodging prices.