First Time Visitor’s Guide: Snowmass, Colorado – 5280
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In the 45 years since Snowmass Village became an incorporated town, it has built its reputation primarily as a premier ski resort. Part of the quartet of mountains under the Aspen Snowmass Umbrella, Snowmass boasts one of the longest vertical descents in the country (an impressive 4,406 feet from the top of the Cirque Poma lift to the bottom of the Two Creeks lift) and is Colorado’s second largest resort town after Vail. But Snowmass offers much more than just days in the snow – especially in summer and early fall. Here’s what else the ever-growing ski resort, just a 25-minute drive from Aspen, has to offer.
Locations, locations, locations
Snowmass is laid out in the style of multi-part European ski villages and has four distinct key areas. That Snowmass Shopping Center (accessed via the Upper Carriage Way) is on the highest elevation above but within sight of the newer one Base Village Snowmass (which has expanded for $600 million over the past five years). The Sky Cab Gondola (better known as the “Cone” because of its colorful gondola cars) connects these two dining, shopping and hotel centers. Snowmass Center houses the grocery store, post office and gas station while Snowmass City Park– located about three miles down Brush Creek Road towards Colorado Highway 82 – is home to the Snowmass Rodeo and the starting point for many singletrack trails.
Outside of the ordinary
Though known for its skiing, the summer months in Snowmass offer plenty of outdoor opportunities, whether you prefer adventures on two feet, two pedals, four wheels, or a big boat. The iconic Maroon bells are must-sees—they’re the stars of Colorado’s most-photographed vistas, and for good reason—but there are plenty of two-legged activities closer to the village. pulling up Rim Trail South to reach a spectacular black-and-white marble observation deck with a yin-yang symbol in the center, offering great views of the ski area and local peaks, including 13,300 feet Mount Daly. Trail runners should head for the well-shaded 3.9-mile course Tom Blake Trail for its buttery smooth path, but watch out for the horse traffic too. Another option: Sign up Ragnar Trail Coloradoa trail running race/festival where teams of eight cover approximately 120 miles over two days, held annually in June at Snowmass Town Park.
If mountain biking is more your thing, go to Sky Mountain Park for thigh-burning climbs, adrenaline-pumping descents – and views of the world’s elite taking off and landing in their private jets Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which is located on the eastern edge of the park. The park is part of Aspen Snowmass/Roaring Fork Valley IMBA Gold Level Ride Center, a designation given by the International Mountain Biking Association to the world’s top mountain biking destinations. Riders keen on a short but steep climb should start at Snowmass Town Park and travel from Ditchline (beginner level) to Viewline (intermediate) to a major trail junction. From there, either return the way you came, take the Skyline Ridge Trail for a much longer ride, or if you feel confident, try Expert-level Deadline. Downhillers looking for lift-accessible terrain should hit the 25 miles of trails on the Snowmass Bike Park; just be prepared for it pay for the lift ticket.
Need to secure a bike? Hire a hardtail or full suspension bike, or take care of last-minute mechanical problems with your personal bike with a visit to Snowmass Sportslocally owned and operated for more than 30 years.
For those who want to get high (vertically speaking) or wet without breaking a sweat, reserve your spot on a jeep tour or rafting expedition. Flaming adventures, located in Snowmass Mall, offers both hiking and biking tours—and even hosts sunset dinner tours at a historic shepherd’s cabin on Snowmass Mountain. That Snowmass Rodeo is another summer staple; Events take place on Wednesday nights and include bronc riding, barrel racing and team roping.
Of course, if you’re visiting between Thanksgiving (the typical ski resort opening day) and around the third week of April, the obvious choice is to tackle the 3,342 acres of skiable terrain that Snowmass has to offer. (Lift ticket prices vary, but average around $200 per day.) Experienced skiers will love lapping the slopes on the fenced-in, walking-accessible Hanging Valley Wall area, but if accessible greens and gentle Blue is more your speed, hit the Elk Camp Gondola and ride the Elk Camp Lift up to wide-open rolling slopes, most notably Gunner’s View. Non-skiers also have plenty of winter options whether they try Stunning alpine coaster or go on one of the twice-daily guided snowshoe tours with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. (Buy tickets — $73 for adults, $54 for youth and seniors — at least 30 minutes before meeting the group at the Elk Camp Gondola.)
Snowmass isn’t just an outdoor lover’s paradise. If you have a penchant for fine arts, you should take the time to do so Snowmass Art Walk, which features year-round sculptures, murals and other outdoor art installations created by artists from the Roaring Fork Valley. During the summer months, take a self-guided tour of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where you can watch creatives at work. Hotter temperatures also mark the return of the Free Snowmass Concert Series Every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. (doors open one hour before) from the beginning of June to the end of August. A similar event music on the mall, runs every Friday afternoon during the colder months. Finally there is the collective snow mass, a self-proclaimed gaming lounge and selfie den that hosts everything from chess clubs and bingo to art shows, yoga, and comedy nights. The front lawn is a favorite with children, thanks to garden games and a splash pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.
Most visitors to Snowmass Village are on the go from one adventure to the next, so there are plenty of fast food options. open at 7 a.m. Fuel Cafe at Snowmass Mall is a great choice for that first caffeine hit of the day and accompanying early morning foods like the California breakfast burrito with egg, cheddar, potato and avocado. The Crepe Hut, with its handheld hungry selection of sweet and savory, is the ultimate take-out. and JÜS mass of snow (it is first location is in Aspen) is known for freshly squeezed juices like Ginger Beet Martini (warning: there is no gin in this drink) and bugs bunny rich in carrots. Be sure to enjoy the expansive valley views while your fellow travelers peruse the menu.
If you have time to sit and stay for a while, have a bowl of the casserole‘s signature old-fashioned beef stew has been a local favorite since 1972. Venga Venga is the go-to for tableside guac and fresh or fiery margaritas (try the Prickly Pear Blueberry if you like the former, or the Spicy Orange if you can handle the latter). Foodies will appreciate it Aurum snow mass. Hit his happy hour if you’re on a budget; Treat yourself to the $189 52-ounce Tomahawk Rib Eye if you’re not. End the day with a sweet treat sundae; Locals swear by the salted biscuits and cream.
Put your hat down
With ski-in/ski-out access, a slope-side pool and hot tubs, and a chic, light-filled lobby, the Viewline Resort Snowmass offers more than just rooms with a view—although they do have one. Make sure you save at least one happy hour drink for the time being Viewline Lobby Bar, where seating near the fireplace, at the bar and on the terrace all offer a clear view of the ski hill. Après with a difference in the in-house resort Lupine Spawhere the traditional Abhyanga massage and the Indian Sundari head massage and scalp treatment are among the signature offerings.
That Spotlight Hotel Snowmass is another option that can’t go wrong, nestled in Base Village just a short walk from the Elk Camp Gondola. Guests will love the free, hearty breakfast buffet and a post-adventure dip in one of the two massive pool spas (read: the biggest hot tubs you’ve ever seen).
When you do one thing
Experience live music, tasty bites and great views Sunset Tuesdays, held every summer from late June to early August at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola (the ride to the top is free). If you’re not after the date-night vibe, treat the kids to tickets ($51). Lost Forest Base activitieslike the Rugged Ascent climbing wall. Ullr nights (an ode to the Norse god of snow) are the winter equivalent of Sunset Tuesdays, and while less frequent, they feature fire dancers.