Amidst the massive downsizing that has nearly consumed my every thought and movement, I recently had the opportunity to check out some ski resorts that I’d never been to despite having lived in Colorado nearly all of my life.
My husband had some business meetings up in Aspen, so I accompanied him up to the Aspen/Carbondale region in the Rocky Mountains.
The drive from Denver is mainly on the Interstate, but you get to drive through one of the most interesting rock canyons in the state, Glenwood.
(Note: Because it’s so easy to snap, upload and share, I’ve been continuing to use my iPhone to take photos quite a lot lately, and all of these images were shot with my camera phone.)
The Colorado River meanders through the steep-walled rock canyon for about 12 miles and the views are breathtaking.
I’ve been up to the Aspen/Carbondale only a few times in my life, but the last couple of times we’ve stayed at the Days Inn in Carbondale which is about 40-50 minutes from Aspen.
You’d think it would be crazy pricey to stay in the area, but it’s actually one of the most affordable hotels anywhere (roughly $70/night). Not bad considering Pitkin county – where Aspen resides – is the 2nd wealthiest county in the country (Nantucket takes home the #1 spot).
Anyway, last year was the first time I’d ever skied any of the four Aspen/Snowmass mountains. This year I was lucky enough to get discounted lift tickets and so I was able to visit all but one (Buttermilk).
This is the main hill accessible from the town of Aspen. You can literally walk to the slopes from the downtown streets.
The mountain caters to the intermediate and expert skier since there are no green runs. As an intermediate skier myself, I found the blues pretty navigable (what’s considered a blue run does seem to vary from ski area to ski area).
It was fun skiing there and cool to see the town of Aspen from above, but I will say that because I don’t really ski blacks, a lot of the terrain wasn’t skiable for me. And I like to do a lot of different runs rather than shoot down the same ones every time, so I got a little bored.
Pretty aspen trees can be found all over the mountain.
So, about halfway through the day and after having done a good amount of the blue runs, we hopped on one of the free city buses and trekked over to Aspen Highlands.
Highlands has a good amount of varied terrain, from the easy-peasy groomed greens to the more expert black terrain.
One of the things I loved about Highlands was the amazing view you get of the Maroon Bells from the top of the mountain. Gorgeous.
Highlands is about 2/3 larger than Aspen Mountain, so you’ll have a larger selection of runs to choose from. It was a fun mountain, but my favorite was yet to come…
It was only my second time ever skiing Snowmass, but there’s so much to like about it. It has a ton of terrain (it’s over 3 times larger than Highlands), it’s got a good mix of terrain and also has lovely views from the top of the mountain. It’s hard to get bored here.
I was a bit bummed, though, because the day we went was probably the coldest day I’ve ever skiied, so it was a little bit harder to fully enjoy the day. Breathing in the crisp air sent a jolt through your lungs and it felt like the air was freezing everything in an instant.
Do I look cold? :)
That little mask thingy actually helped a ton. It kept some of the warmth in so I didn’t inhale the frigid air. And little ice crystals had formed almost instantly on the outside from the moisture. Crazy!
Some thoughts on Skiing Aspen/Snowmass
- You can use your lift ticket at any of the 4 mountains during that day. So on the first day, we were able to visit both Aspen Mountain and Highlands on the same ticket.
- Free shuttles take you to all of the 4 mountains from 8am-4:30pm, so it makes it really easy to get from one area to another.
- Free parking lots are available, too, so you don’t have to shell out any additional cash for parking.
- It ain’t cheap. Aspen/Snowmass lift tickets are $114/day.
- It’s not close to Denver or the front range. It takes about 3.5 hours to drive (with no traffic or weather), so it’s pretty impossible to just head up for the day.
A week after returning from our mini trip to Aspen, we also visited Beaver Creek. It was my first time there, too. With lift tickets costing $119, it’s not somewhere I normally would go, but my lovely and generous friend Curt gave me a voucher for a free ticket (THANK YOU, Curt!!).
I was excited to finally check out yet another of the many Colorado ski areas/resorts that I’ve never visited.
It was super easy to park in one of the free lots and then take the free shuttle just a short distance to one of the lifts. The lifties were the friendliest overall of any I’ve encountered (ever, I think), and the skiing was fun and relaxing (the blues seemed pretty easy here). Lots of completely wide-open terrain and very few people (we did go on a weekday).
I’m not a big skier, really, but I do enjoy a day out now and again. And I always enjoy exploring new ski areas that I’ve never been to. I hope to make it to a couple more new ones before heading off to Alaska where I’m sure I’ll be skiing a fair amount (can’t not ski when I live in Alaska, right? :).
I will miss parts of Colorado and I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the beauty that the state has to offer, so during our drives to and from the ski areas, I took a few photos along the way.
Red-colored rocks near Aspen.
Mountains near Carbondale.
The return trip through Glenwood Canyon.
The Rocky Mountains near Dillon.