Snowmass Colorado

Snowmass Colorado is owned by the Aspen Skiing Company and makes of one four mountains in the Aspen Snowmass conglomeration. With four varied resorts just a few minutes from a charming downtown, Aspen is a great place for a Colorado family ski vacation.

Snowmass Ski Resort is by far the largest of the Aspen mountains; in fact, it is bigger than Aspen Mountain (Ajax), Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands combined. It has over 20 lifts serving about 90 marked trails, wide-open bowls, and challenging tree runs. A high-speed gondola takes riders in comfort from the Colorado ski lodge at Snowmass Village to the top of one of four main ski areas at the resort.

In Colorado, only Vail Ski Resort is larger than Snowmass Colorado. With a 4,406-foot vertical drop (the longest in the United States, beating Big Sky Montana at 4,180 feet) and over 3,000 skiable acres, Snowmass Ski Resort has something for skiers and snowboarders of every ability, but most of the mountain is best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.

The Cirque surface lift takes daring riders to 12,510 feet above sea level (one of the highest lifts in North America). From here, advanced skiers will enjoy both the stunning views and the challenging-but-manageable double-black runs. The chutes and woods at Hanging Valley Glades are great in deep powder, which Snowmass Ski Resort gets a lot.

There are some steep, groomed trails at Sam's Knob (accessible from the gondola) and some great intermediate cruisers at Big Burn and Elk Camp. At a mountain this large, beginners will find something to ski or board too, but they are advised to head to Buttermilk Mountain instead.

Snowmass Village at the bottom of the mountain is huge and growing. There are already hundreds of condos, and about 5,000 beds in slopeside accommodation; construction is underway to build more. Snowmass Village makes a great destination for a Colorado family ski vacation, but single twenty- and thirty-somethings may want to stay in the town of Aspen, just 15 minutes away.

Aspen is famous for its après ski nightlife and someone who has never visited may think that it is full of pretentious partiers and Hollywood stars. In fact, Aspen has as many family restaurants and low-key bars as nightclubs and its atmosphere is more Colorado ski lodge than Los Angeles dance floor. Taking a Colorado family ski vacation to Aspen puts you in close driving distance to four varied resorts (there are free shuttles to each mountain from downtown locations); and after the kids are asleep, the parents can head into town for a drink.

Snowmass Colorado is definitely a destination resort. It is too isolated to attract many day-skiers from Denver or Boulder, so it is less crowded on weekends than Breckenridge, Copper, and other Summit County resorts.

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. The 150-mile drive from Denver can take more than three hours, but it is quite scenic and once you get on the slopes of Snowmass Ski Resort, the trip will seem well worth the effort.

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