Winter Wonderland: Jetset to Epic Ski Slopes
Plan Your Winter Getaway to Colorado's Magical Mountains
(Photo courtesy of Aspen Ski Co)
Snowmass is massive: 96 Trails, 3,332 acres of terrain, and 4,406 vertical feet of skiing and riding. From the gladed trees of Burnt Mountain and the expert couloirs in Hanging Valley to miles of intermediate cruisers like Sneaky’s and dedicated beginner areas, Snowmass truly has it all. For little ones, The Treehouse Kids Adventure Center rolls out the red carpet with custom themed playrooms like the Bear Den, and the swooping turns of the new Breathtaker mountain coaster offer endless giggles for all ages. Throw in the varying terrain parks and the hundreds of top-notch ski and snowboard school pros, and you have the perfect package for winter vacation bliss.
Rising above the bustling energy of downtown Aspen, this is where it all began in 1946 with the single-seat Lift 1, which immediately became the longest chairlift in the world. More than 70 years later, Aspen remains a bucket-list ski resort for many. The main entry point to skiing or riding Aspen is the prominent Silver Queen Gondola that zips snow sports enthusiasts to the top of the mountain in under 15 minutes. Skiers and riders are then greeted with quick and easy access to over 3,000 vertical feet of terrain. Bell Mountain delivers Hollywood lines under the gondola with plenty of options for tree skiing, glades and bumps. Picnics and parties can be spotted at Buckhorn Cabin as skiers and riders zip by. Over on the right side of the mountain, the ‘Dumps’ supply a powder pocket heaven amongst glistening Aspen trees. For speedsters, carving a turn on the iconic America’s Downhill race course, host to World Cup ski racing for decades, is a must. Aspen Mountain might look small, but it skis big.
Adored by locals and elite skiers and riders, Aspen Highlands has a duct-tape-to-diamonds vibe best understood by comparing two of its most famous gems: Highland Bowl and Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro. Highland Bowl is accessed by a 45-minute hike to the top of Highland Peak, where skiers and riders are greeted by a panorama punctuated by the towering Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak. The Bowl then delivers expansive, expert terrain extending close to 2,500 vertical feet of pure heaven. Meanwhile, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro offers up equal parts elegance and raucous fun with an afternoon ski-in-dance-out après ski scene that is unmatched. While Highlands may be deﬁned by those outsize experiences, there’s more: a surprising amount of intermediate terrain on the lower mountain.
This cozy, European-style cabin with a backdrop of the iconic Maroon Bells is a highlight of any Aspen Snowmass vacation. Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is a legendary for a reason: channeling authentic European Alpine culture in a warm, welcoming environment, it also happens to have the most boisterous après ski scene on any mountain in North America. During the 2015-16 season, the iconic restaurant was completely remodeled. Lunch service feels like a slice of Switzerland in the Rocky Mountains with layered helpings of fondue and raclette as well as steak tartare, caviar and delectable daily specials. The wine list includes an ever-changing array of international varieties and ﬁne champagne. For dessert: strudel, anyone? As everyone’s attention shifts from lunch to après ski, things really kick into high gear. On sunny days, the south-facing deck at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro regularly plays host to ski-boot dance parties that just happen, as ﬂutes of champagne, glasses of ﬁne wine and a bevy of cocktails create a jovial atmosphere.
(Photo courtesy of Catherine Aeppel)