Of the mountain resort quartet that surrounds Aspen, Snowmass combines the shining attributes of Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, and Highlands into one location. With steep terrain like Ajax, rolling Buttermilk-esque cruisers, and side-country stashes that locals covet like those at Highlands, Snowmass is a massive (it’s not a misnomer) example of the best Aspen has to offer.
Beginner terrain can be found throughout the 3,000+ skiable acres. Fanny Hill is a perfect place for newbies to get their legs under them, it’s the mellow pitch located right next to the “Skittles” Sky Cab—the colorful gondola cars that runs back and forth between the new Base Village. Other trails like Dawdler, Assay Hill, and Scooper are great places for novice skiers and boarders to get some turns in.
The Elk Camp and Big Burn areas of Snowmass are ideal locales for the blue square skier, complete with wide-open runs and breathtaking views. And if you’re in a meat hucking mood, there are steeps, cliffs, and trees in the Cirque and Hanging Valley Wall areas that will challenge even the most extreme skier or rider.
In addition to world-class skiing, a family-friendly atmosphere is the modus operandi at Snowmass. The Treehouse Kids Adventure Center is an unparalleled kid-centric lodge, equipment rental, playground, ski school, and cafeteria facility. (But beware parents, there are areas in the Treehouse where “No Adults Allowed” signs lay down the law.)
The new Base Village boasts dining and drinking options that created quite the buzz around Aspen during the village’s inaugural 2009 season. The Sweet Life, located in the charming red barn at the base of the mountain, is a hit with children of all ages. Kids can choose from homemade ice cream, colorful confections, and s’mores; while adults can indulge in a candy-inspired cocktail. And if the après-ski scene is what’s on tap, Sneaky’s Tavern has an outdoor patio in the heart of the Base Village that gets packed as soon as the lifts stop running.
Slopeside accommodations are in abundance at Snowmass. From family-friendly condominiums to the chic and stylish Viceroy (which opens it’s doors December 2009), there are a lot of options to choose from.
FYI…Locals ski the mountain from looker’s right to looker’s left. For the best snow conditions I recommend that you start on the Campground lift early in the A.M., move to Big Burn with the sun, and end your day riding the Elk Camp and Two Creeks chairs.