When Snowmass (part of Aspen Snowmass) opened in 1967, a snowy star was born. This European-inspired ski village has gradually become one of my favorite ski destinations in all of Colorado. One of the best aspects of staying at Snowmass for a few days in winter is the mind-boggling amount of activities and skiable terrain.
How big is it?
Snowmass is so big; it has more skiable acres than the other three Aspen ski areas combined. At 3,332 acres/1,348 hectares, just about any skier or snowboarder will find the terrain that suits their ability. Twenty lifts whoosh riders up to all parts of the mountain, most of these lifts are high-speed modern types. Sweeping views of the Roaring Fork Valley spread out to the east while certain spots on top offer views of the striated and pointy Maroon Bells.
If you have the legs, lungs, and ability to experience the run called Longshot, you’ll get in 3.5 miles/5.6 kilometers of blue-run fun. A short walk from the top of the Elk Camp Chairlift brings you to Longshot at the top of the mountain. Eat up the views of far off Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain before the long trip downhill. Signs are posted at one quarter, halfway and three quarters of the way down for those wondering, “Are we there yet?”. If Longshot isn’t long enough, ask one of the lift attendants or ambassador with an “I" on their jacket how to find the 5.3 mile/8.52 kilometers long combo run down the mountain.
Three terrain parks challenge those who love the feel of flying. Two pipes offer a beginner and expert in-the-groove playground. With 96 trails, terrain parks, pipes, and tree runs; you could spend a week at Snowmass and be hard-pressed to see it all.
Snowmass is in the midst of a 600 million USD expansion. The new Limelight Hotel just opened on December 14th, 2018 offering ski-in-ski-out luxury lodging. Boasting 99 rooms and 11 residences, the Limelight is a great addition to Snowmass Village. For the budget-conscious visitors, try the classic Wildwood Snowmass hotel. While the online reviews for Wildwood are mixed, this is one of the best low-cost hotels at Snowmass. At the high end of lodging, find the Viceroy catering to the ultra-luxury crowd. My pride research for all hotels was based on a stay of two nights, Mid-February 2019. The Viceroy starting rate was a lofty 1,955 USD and the Wildwood was on the other end of the price spectrum at 200 USD, per night respectively.
Other lodging choices with similar price points are vacation rentals from Airbnb, and several condos are for rent in the Village. Over 20 condos are listed on the GoSnowmass.com website and around 12 listings on Airbnb. Note that most of the Airbnb properties are in or near the town of Aspen.
Excellent dining options
With the recent expansion, restaurant choices are varied and delicious. My wife and I tried State 38 and were impressed with the food, service, wine list, and amenities. State 38 has a patio out front with a great view of the ski slopes. As you walk inside notice a ski boot warming set up if your feet are cold. It’s the food that really shines at State 38. The French onion soup was as good as any I’ve had in France and their bison entrees like the pappardelle and bison osso bucco was incredibly tasty and filling.
For bargain eats, try the new Crepe Shack by Mawa’s Kitchen at the base of the Elk Camp Gondola. Like the name implies, this is a small eatery without room to eat inside. Fuel is a café known by the locals as the best bargain breakfast on the mountain. Grab a delicious homemade breakfast burrito and coffee for less than 10 USD! Come by for lunch and find soups, panini, and more in this small but worthy eatery. For baked goods it’s hard to beat the Café V in the Viceroy. Pastry Chef Ron Viloria brings his world-class pastry talents and 30 years experience to Snowmass Village. Don’t miss Ron’s Kouign Amann. This treat is one of the tastiest pastries ever! Think palmier (pig’s ear), only in the round and thicker oozing crispy caramelized butter and sugar on the outside and chewy on the inside. Coffee, doughnuts, croissants, pastries, and sandwiches are also on offer at Café V.
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Other things to do
Snowmass has a variety of off-slope options. I stopped in to see what was going on in The Collective Snowmass, a new space for pop-ups, live entertainment, film, theater, and more. This exciting new venue seeks to be the social hub of Snowmass Village. I witnessed the talents of pianist Dave Byers as he entertained a small crowd of lucky music fans. Dave invited audience members up to the piano to sing requested songs. I was blown away by a guest singer belting out Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah so soulful it brought tears to my eyes. If you have a chance to drop in, check the schedule for what’s happening at The Collective during your visit.
The Ice Age Discovery Center in Snowmass Village holds fossils of mammoths, mastodons, and other ancient creatures that roamed the Snowmass area. Said to be the world’s finest ice age fossil discovery, the fossils were found when a construction crew was working on nearby Ziegler Reservoir in 2010. Admission is free and suitable for all ages.
Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobile tours, dog sledding, and tubing round out other popular wintertime activities in Aspen Snowmass. Call GoSnowmass at 800-679-3151, or check their website for more information on these fun things to do.
You'll be back
It’s easy to see why so many winter visitors love Snowmass, just 9 miles (14.5 km) from the iconic town of Aspen. There’s so much to see and do that chances are good you’ll return for another visit. In the summer find just as much fun and excitement, but that will be covered in another article later this year.
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