Ski Location Spotlight: Aspen, Colorado
Picking the perfect ski location requires months of planning and arrangements — and can make or break a family vacation. You need to find out what the ski lodging situation is. Where are you and your family going to stay? Is it close to the slopes? Do you want to stress quality or convenience? You also must analyze the actual mountain you will be skiing. Are there appropriate runs for your family's skill level? Will you all be able to ski together, or at least in the vicinity of one another? Throw in some questions about ski rentals. Will you be renting skis, poles and helmets, or will you invest in equipment you can keep? Where will you be storing them after a long day of skiing? The list goes on, as planning this kind of trip is a complex ordeal.
There are myriad ski towns around the world that offer their own set of unique traits. Some are tailored for more experienced skiers, with steeper and more rugged slopes. Some are geared towards providing a family-friendly, small-town theme. The wrong choice can make your trip much less enjoyable, as the town will simply not be able to provide the kind of experience you were hoping for.
Some ski towns are well-established as places that can suit all kinds of skiers and vacation-goers. From the thrill-seekers looking to satisfy their adrenaline to the first-timers just looking for an easy-going and safe experience, these ski locations have it all. Aspen, Colorado is one of those ski towns that can satisfy all kinds of needs.
Though it is small in terms of size and population, this little town is a giant in the skiing world. People travel from around the world to fall in love with Aspen's beautiful slopes, scenery and lifestyle. Here is a breakdown of different aspects of one of the most popular ski locations on Earth.
Colorado is one of the best and most well-known locations for skiing, so don’t forget your gear and ski braces! It is littered with ski locations throughout the state, giving vacation-goers plenty of options when planning their trips. However, even in this crowded field of competitors, Aspen separates itself in many ways.
Of all of the ski towns in Colorado, Aspen has the highest concentration of ski resorts. The town is truly dedicated to drawing as many skiers as possible, which is a huge factor in their local economy. Overall, there are nearly 400 different trails over four main mountains for skiers to choose from. This enormous range of options caters to all skill levels, though it will require some research to know exactly where to go in order to fit your needs. Do your homework! The four mountains that dominate the skiing scene in Aspen are Buttermilk, Snowmass, Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands.
For beginner skiers or those not seeking any extreme trails, Buttermilk is the right mountain. It features some of the longer, smoother trails in Aspen and also has plenty of features for those looking to do stunts. For this reason, it is where the Winter X Games are held.
Aspen Mountain is the oldest of the four mountains when it comes to skiing. It has been open for skiers since 1947 and is currently a place where intermediate to expert skiers go to test their skills. It does not offer beginner runs, but does feature a huge selection of black diamond runs that can entice an experienced skier to test his or her skills on the slopes.
The Aspen Highlands feature a backcountry bowl that is unique to the other mountains in Aspen. This mountain is home to the Highland Bowl, the highest Colorado peak at 12,392 feet above sea level. It is important to bundle up when you head to a summit this high up, as it is typically several degrees colder at this elevation than it is at the base of the mountain. Additionally, being so far up means that you are closer to the sun. Be sure to protect your skin from harmful UV rays by regularly applying sunscreen to your exposed areas. These rays are present regardless of the temperature, making it always important to take the extra precautions. Though it is mostly geared toward advanced skiers, Aspen Highlands offers plenty of options for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Snowmass is the most expansive of the skiing mountains in Aspen. It covers over 3,000 acres of ski trails and also functions as a ski-in/ski-out resort. This is an excellent feature for people or families that are looking to get the very most out of their time on the slopes. You can simply ski in and out of the lodge you are staying at, which drastically cuts down the time wasted on ski storage, ski rental and changing clothes. It also offers around 90 terrain features that can entice those looking to get some air. Don’t forget your ski protection gear as this has become arguably the most popular of the four mountains, due to its tremendous size and wide range of slopes.
In terms of passes, skiers have a variety of options depending on which mountains they intend to ride on, as well as how often. Passes can be purchased for certain mountains and certain days only, or on a year-long, all-access plan. You get what you pay for in Aspen. It is the most packed environment in all of Colorado in terms of skiing options, and for that reason it is also the most expensive place to ski in the state. As with most payment packages, the early bird gets the worm. Keep an eye out for deals on paying far in advance, as that may be your best chance to get a reasonable bargain. An all-access pass to the Aspen resorts generally goes for over $1,000, though you truly are getting what you pay for if you and your family want to get the most out of your skis.
It is safe to say that Aspen will always be considered a ski town. The mountains and resorts are top-notch, with no sign of slowing down any time soon. Skiing is what drives its economy and keeps vacationers flocking back for more every season. However, there is much more to this majestic ski location than meets the eye.
Many know Aspen as a highly sophisticated cultural scene. The Aspen Art Museum, which sits near downtown on the Rio Grande Trail, is brimming with beautiful collections and tour options that will keep any art aficionado enthralled. Additionally, the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, which is maintained with the help of Aspen's historical society, is another draw when you are not out hitting the slopes. It transports you to Victorian America and teaches you important aspects of Aspen's rich history.
This town also holds its own in other areas of the arts, including music and theater. Many ski locations become ghost towns in the off season. Summer and parts of spring feature little to no tourism, as they simply do not have much to offer when there isn't snow on the ground. Not Aspen though, as the Aspen Music Festival is a tremendous siren song for music lovers from all over.
The Aspen Music Festival takes place in the summer, causing fans and musicians to flock to the little ski town in droves. This festival is not a new feature. Musicians have rocked this town for over 50 years, with no sign of waning interest in the huge range of musical stylings offered. From classical to contemporary, Aspen has a lively music scene all year long, which is a great alternative when you are not having an adventure on the mountains.
In terms of theater, the Wheeler Opera House is the main attraction in town. This not your ordinarily stuffy opera house, however. The docket of shows is not limited to operas. On the contrary, much of the schedule features comedy shows, contemporary music concerts and many other types of entertainment that pass through the little ski town.
Attractions are obviously an important part of any vacation-goer's experience, both when deciding to make the trip as well as during your stay. Aspen may seem like just a popular ski location at first glance. But when you look deeper, you will find that there are plenty of other events and activities to enjoy during your stay.
But there is still another important aspect of analyzing a good ski location: the people. There are few things that can derail a good vacation faster than a culture of rudeness. It can make you feel unwanted, like you are not welcome to vacation here. A good ski location should have great skiing opportunities on beautiful mountains, but also a welcoming culture of friendliness.
Aspen is a town of under 7,000 residents. There are very few businesses that are not locally-owned, which reflects the civic pride. A local business needs to rely completely on itself to survive. With most of its revenue throughout the year generated through the temporary spending of vacationers, it is no wonder that the people of Aspen are usually considered extremely cordial and polite. They do not only want you to come back and visit, they need you to come back in order to keep their businesses going. Such is the way things usually are in towns that rely so heavily on tourism, though constant friendliness is a welcome side-effect of this type of economy.
Vacationers do not shy away from lavish spending while they are on a trip to Aspen. There are ways to get discounts on tickets to ski there, but it remains the most expensive set of mountains in Colorado. This draws many wealthy individuals and families to the slopes — a huge boon to the town's finances. These people are usually very happy during their stay, as a result of Aspen's beauty, many attractions and excellent skiing. This makes for some pleasant times in the little ski location, for it is truly difficult to be a grouch when you are in such a picturesque and adventurous hub.
YOU WON'T REGRET IT
If done right, a ski trip to Aspen, Colorado can be worth every penny. There are few places with better or more diverse options for skiing, for you really do get the entire experience when exploring Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. Additionally, there are even fewer ski locations that offer as many fun options away from the slopes as Aspen does.
This big little town gives you the opportunity to embrace your spirit of adventure during the day, then treat yourself to a cultured experience afterward. What if I told you that you will also be surrounded by happy, polite people keen on making your experience in Aspen unforgettable from start to finish? This ski town is an excellent option for diverse travelers and would be a smart choice for an unforgettable snowy getaway.