Aspen Ski Resort

Aspen Ski Resort might be the most famous ski area in the United States, but its legendary nightlife and rich and famous visitors sometimes overshadow the skiing. This is a shame. Four world-class mountains within 12 miles of a surprisingly charming downtown make Aspen ski holidays a treat for more than just the jet set.

Snowmass Ski Resort alone would justify a trip to ski Aspen Colorado. This sprawling mountain has the longest vertical drop in Colorado and over 3,000 skiable acres, mostly geared to intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers and snowboarders.

Buttermilk mountain is perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers — a great place to learn how to ski or to get back in shape on the first day of an Aspen ski holiday. Intermediates will have fun on Jacob's Ladder and Bear. Even the runs marked black, under Tiehack chair for example, are manageable for all except complete novices. The open and gently sloped tree runs off Javelin trail are a great place to learn how to ski in glades. Beginners will love the groomed cruisers and can experience top-to-bottom runs over Buttermilk's 2,000-foot vertical drop just as soon as they master a snowplow or front and back foot snowboard turns.

Aspen Highlands is probably the best-balanced mountain at Aspen Ski Resort — there's terrain here for every level of skier. Expert terrain here is some of the best in Colorado and favored by locals who ski Aspen. The highlight is Highlands Bowl, most of which can be accessed only by hiking or catching a ride with a snowcat. Steeplechase and the Olympic Bowl are also challenging to even the best skier. Intermediates should head up Loge Peak or Cloud Nine. Beginners can find some good runs off the exhibition chair.

Aspen ski holidays are incomplete without a trip to Aspen Mountain (often referred to as Ajax), which overlooks the town of Aspen. Aspen Mountain is the oldest of the four areas at Aspen Ski Resort. It had the longest chairlift in the world when it opened in 1946.

Beginners should practice at Buttermilk before attempting to ski Aspen Mountain. This is the only ski area in the United States that has no designated green runs. As a rule, the intermediate terrain is around the top of the summit and in the gullies between the ridges, the expert terrain drops from the ridges into the gullies. Beware, though: there is quite a jump from blue to black runs at Aspen Mountain and the black runs are difficult enough to challenge any expert.

Tickets at Aspen Ski Resort may be more expensive than at most resorts, but Aspen ski holidays don't have to break the bank. There is plenty of affordable housing, even some cheap student dorms. Aspen Colorado is home to some four star restaurants, but there is also a lot of cheap fast food and satisfying bar food.

Aspen airport has flights from Denver, Phoenix, Memphis, and Minneapolis. Eagle County airport is a little farther away (about 70 miles), but has flights from more cities. Shuttles are also available from Denver International Airport, but the 150-mile drive from Denver can take more than three hours. This has its advantages: the drive deters day-skiers from Denver, so it is less crowded on weekends than Winter Park, Vail, or the Summit County resorts. Most people at Aspen Ski Resort are locals, workers from across the world, or families enjoying Aspen ski holidays. Then, of course, there is the rich jet set that has made the town famous.

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