Aspen Travel Guide & Locals Tips

Aspen, Colorado

ASPEN, CO – Aspen is known as one of the best skiing destinations in the world, and one visit there will leave no doubt in your mind that it deserves its reputation. With a mild climate and some of the most beautiful views of the mountains anywhere in the Rockies (especially when the aspens are changing color in the fall), the city of Aspen is a destination in itself.

Aspen Travel Guide Tips

No matter when you’re in Aspen, there are loads of great places to visit: in the summer, you can take advantage of numerous hiking trails that will take you past blooming wildflowers, visit ghost towns to see what living in the mountains during the mining boom was like, and check out some of the educational sites and conservancies set up by John Denver.

If you’re in the mood for arts, you can see a show at Theatre Aspen or visit one of two contemporary art galleries, the 212 Gallery or the Aspen Art Museum, to see what’s currently on display.

And of course, no ski town would be complete without a wide selection of restaurants and micro-breweries—places like the Pine Creek Cookhouse and Aspen Brewing Co. help make this city what it is. To get an idea of just how many options you have, visit and look around for a while—you’ll be amazed at the number of places you can eat and drink! And with options both on and off the mountain, you’re never far away from somewhere to eat.

Aspen quake

Aspen in the Fall

Skiing Aspen

But Aspen really shines in the winter, when it takes on its role as what it does best: a ski town. The four ski areas that comprise the Aspen/Snowmass resort complex combine for over 5,000 skiable acres, and Snowmass has over 4,000 feet of vertical, the most of any resort in the United States.

Aspen skiing

One of the Top Skiing Destinations in the World.

Aspen Mountain, the oldest of the resorts, has been open since 1946, and provides intermediate and expert skiers with a lot of options, even though it’s generally considered to be a small ski area by most standards. If you’re looking for a great guide to the backcountry at Aspen Mountain, you can get in touch with Aspen Mountain Power Tours, and they’ll take you to the best spots. (Trails: easiest: 0%, more difficult: 48%, most difficult: 26%, expert: 26%.)

Aspen Highlands, on the other hand, sports runs of all difficulties, from green to double black, as well as the famous Highland Bowl. The famous views of the Maroon Bells (two fourteeners) are breathtaking, and the Highlands are known for their challenging expert runs. While this resort gives you the option of sticking to the green and blue runs, you’re missing out if you aren’t taking a chance on the more technically challenging stuff! (Trails: easiest: 18%, more difficult: 30%, most difficult: 16%, expert: 36%.)

A bit more family- and beginner-friendly is Buttermilk, a slightly smaller resort that offers a lot of easy and moderately difficult trails—alongside some of the best freestyle terrain in the country. Buttermilk is hosting the X Games and you can ride the 22-foot superpipe or the X Games slopestyle course to see for yourself just how big the features are. Of course, there’s also the Panda Pipe and the S3 Park for beginners. (Trails: easiest: 35%, more difficult: 39%, most difficult: 26%, expert: 0%.)

Aspen is also a great destination for singles year round.

Finally, the granddaddy of them all: Snowmass. With trails from green to double black, three terrain parks, a superpipe, 94 trails, and 21 lifts, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t find at Snowmass. Their website says “you’ll have to come back for more,” and they’re right—there’s almost no way you can cover all 3,330+ acres in a single trip. No matter what you’re looking for, it’s here. (Trails: easiest: 6%, more difficult: 47%, most difficult: 17%, expert: 30%.)


Snowmass has lots of Vert


No matter what your thing is—skiing, snowboarding, telemark, shopping, partying, photography—Aspen is an absolutely fantastic place to do it.

Need more excitement? There is always this just down the road from Aspen.

Coal mine skiing? Episode #2 of the Aspen video series titled Our Story shows how the Aspen Skiing Company teamed up with a local coal mine in the small town Somerset.

Aspen/Snowmass is currently generating as much energy as it uses during an entire year of operation thanks to the Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine while becoming one of the first business in the United States that is collaborating to produce clean energy with an unlikely source. Check out the video below for some cool coal mine skiing and snowboarding.

“We love this project because it’s bipartisan, it’s has a huge impact on cutting greenhouse gases and it makes money,” says Auden Schendler, VP of Sustainability, Aspen Skiing Company. “It’s the only project of its kind in the West right now but we want to do many more.”


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About the Author

Dann Albright
Dann is a freelance journalist whose love of the mountains keeps him coming back to Colorado. A mountain biker, skier, runner, and hiker, he seeks to shed light on the issues that matter most to the people who live in and around the Rockies.

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