Aspen ski resort
Right up there with the likes of St Moritz and Chamonix in terms of popularity, Aspen is one of those ski resorts with a mass global appeal.
Starting out as a mining town in the 19th-century, Aspen was once the largest silver producer in America. But after the minerals inevitably ran out, it was the resort’s growth into a ski area at the end of the Second World War that saved it from melting away into a mountain ghost town.
And what a ski resort it is – an eclectic mixture of billionaires and ski bums, phenomenal mansions and run-down hostels and world-class skiing and hedonistic nightlife that’s helped make Aspen one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in North America.
For visitors the town is a delight with endless quirky shops and restaurants, and plenty of lively spots to enjoy a drink in the evening.
On the slopes, Aspen lives up to its reputation with hundreds of miles of piste to sample. Between its own slopes and those of neighbouring off-shoots Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands there is plenty of runs to challenge even the most confident skier.
Aspen ski resort is located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, in western USA.
On the slopes
Aspen’s four ski areas have distinct characteristics. Aspen Mountain looks stunning as it rises above the resort town of Aspen in a style that’s familiar to the Alps, but unusual for the USA. Looks here don’t deceive as the Silver Queen gondola accesses some of the most exciting terrain skiers will find anywhere, best suited to intermediate and advanced-level skiers and boarders.
Aspen-based beginners are encouraged towards the smallest of the four areas, Buttermilk; a five-minute (5km/3-mile) shuttle bus ride away. Long-time host of the Winter X Games, it’s both a giant terrain park and a secluded beginners area.
Snowmass has the lion’s share of the resort’s skiing and also boasts the Poma Cirque lift. This lift serves the Cirque powder bowl (one of several the resort offers), along with more than 90 runs for all ability levels covering nearly 240km (150 miles) of pistes.
The fourth ski area, Aspen Highlands, is another short shuttle ride from either Aspen or Snowmass, but it now also has a small base village of its own. Although some more mainstream ski slopes have been added in recent years, it has a reputation as the resort’s wild child, with some of the most exciting on- and off-piste terrain, including in-bounds, off-piste hiking and amazing terrain on Highland Bowl.
The ski season in Aspen runs from late November until mid-April. Aspen Mountain (also nicknamed Ajax) and Snowmass have the longest seasons, while Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands open in early December and remain so until the start of April.