The Essential Guide to the Snowmass Ski Resort

Elk Camp Gondola, Snowmass (Aspen) ski resort, Colorado USA.
••• Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

The Colorado ski town of Aspen gets all the glory. It’s one of the most famous mountains in the world.

But just nine miles from downtown Aspen is the ski resort of Snowmass. Although not as known as Aspen, Snowmass is part of the Aspen/Snowmass complex, located in the town of Aspen, and it’s owned by Aspen Skiing Co. Due to that, Snowmass is often lumped in with Aspen.

But this mountain has its own personality and offerings.

If you want to check it out for yourself during your next ski vacation in Colorado, here’s what you need to know.

Overview of Snowmass

Snowmass is located in the White River National Forest and spans more than 3,000 acres and 94 runs, many of which are family-friendly. In fact, that’s what Snowmass is known for: being one of the country’s best places to go skiing with your family.

Another thing that makes Snowmass so exciting is its ample ski-in/ski-out lodging, from resorts to condos.

The village’s architecture was inspired by the European Alps.

Snowmass is the biggest of the four Aspen/Snowmass mountains and boasts the most vertical feet of skiing of anywhere else in the country when the Cirque poma is on.

Keep your eyes on Snowmass because construction and improvements continue, with much planned for the future.

Terrain

3,362 skiable acres; 4,406-foot vertical drop; 6 percent beginner, 47 percent intermediate, 47 percent expert/advanced.

In addition, there are three terrain parks, one superpipe and one mini-pipe.

Snowmass offers terrain for all levels.

  • Advanced: Head to Snowmass Park for advanced and expert runs, including the 22-foot Superpipe. Snowmass Park has 50 features of all kinds.

  • Intermediate: Makaha Park is the best place for intermediate skiers. Find 25 different features here, of all shapes and sizes, making it a great place to work on some tricks and techniques.

  • Beginner: Lowdown Park is best for beginners. But don’t worry. There’s still plenty of fun here, including a smaller halfpipe to get used to. Also look for Fun Zones scattered across the mountain and the Boot Camp Park on Fanny Hill.

Lift Tickets

Adult tickets start at $202 for two days, if you buy them in advance. Advance tickets are more affordable. An advance child ticket is $54 for two days. Fun fact: Lift tickets are only $6.50 on Dec. 15, in celebration of Snowmass’ 50th anniversary.

Food and Drink

Snowmass has some fantastic dining options, including many that are slopeside. Here are a few.

  • Elk Camp: This is nothing fancy, but you can grab American market-style munchies (like soup, pizza, salads, paninis, chili) at the top of the Elk Camp gondola and eat outside next to the fireplace. Bonus: There’s a full bar, and many of the options are organic and made in-house.  

  • Lynn Britt Cabin: Near the Village Express Lift is this modern-American restaurant that’s a bit more sophisticated. As the name implies, this restaurant is set in a rustic yet elegant cabin. You may want to make reservations if you want to get a dinner table here. Apres specials are excellent here, especially outside. The menu spans elk, trout and bison with a glass of wine and excellent views.

  • The Sled Mobile Kitchen: This is how a ski town does a food truck. The Sled Mobile Kitchen serves “whatever we’re cooking that day” to go, food truck style. This mobile kitchen towed by a snowcat sets up at a different slopeside spot every day.

  • The Westin Snowmass Resort restaurants: This slopeside resort also has a variety of restaurants. Grab breakfast at Monte; apres, cocktails and casual dining at Vue Lounge; and a nice Italian dinner at SMK. Views come standard.

Rentals and Gear

There are five main places to rent your ski gear in Snowmass. Look for Four Mountain Sports shops for total ski packages. Want to save money? If you’re renting for more than four days and you pay in advance, you’ll get $20 to put toward a purchase in the store.

Lessons and Clinics

Snowmass has terrain for all levels and lessons for everyone, no matter your ability, from beginner to pros looking to fine-tune tricks and skills.

Find classes for kids, women and teens, too. Or while the adults take lessons, bring the kids to childcare at the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center.

Newbies: Sign up for the three-day Beginner’s Magic Group Lessons to learn snowboarding or skiing. Advanced beginner and expert skiers: the Adult Group Lessons are better suited for you.  

Skiing and Snowboarding Alternatives

Even if you don’t want to ski or board (or maybe you need a break), there are plenty of fun ways to pass the time in Snowmass. Here are some alternatives to hitting the slopes.

  • Tubing: When you can't ski but still want to fly down the mountain on snow, go tubing. Snowmass doesn't mess around; it has a multi-lane tubing hill, complete with a lift to get you to the top and lights so you can tube at night during special occasions, like Ullr Nights (see below). Find the tubing hill at The Meadows at Elk Camp

  • Ullr Nights: Every Friday during the peak season, Snowmass celebrates Ullr Nights, a tribute to the Norse God of Snow. During this nighttime party at Elk Camp, you can go night tubing, ice skating, snowbiking, ride the gondola, eat, listen to live music and toast S’mores over the fire. A snowbike is a special bike to ride over the snow. Instead of wheels, it has skis. The riders wear foot skis to help them maneuver the bike. The Ullr Nights parties are the place to be on a Friday night in Snowmass. 

  • Snowcat Dinners: You can still head up the mountain after the ski lifts shut down. Take snowcats to the Lynn Britt Cabin for special, four-course dinners served with live music. It’s a quieter, more romantic side of Snowmass that you won’t get to experience during the busy day on skis. Enjoy the soft, magical side of the mountain with exquisite food. This is our favorite dining option in Snowmass because it's so unique and memorable. 

  • Family Chuckwagon Dinners: Another way to experience the Lynn Britt Cabin after hours is for the Family Chuckwagon Dinners on Wednesday evenings. Take a wagon up to the cabin and share a three-course dinner with your family. Warm up with hot cider by the bonfire and live music and singing. The whole family can join voices for these cowboy sing-a-long songs. 

  • Wapiti Wildlife Center: Learn about the animals in the area at the wildlife center. For a different type of skiing experience, take the Aces Ski Tour; that’s a ski run with a naturalist, who will teach you all about the wildlife in winter, avalanches and the natural habitat.

  • Snowshoeing: Go on a snowshoe adventure through the forest on a guided tour with a naturalist. The expert will teach you about the animals, plants and environment around Snowmass. Don't forget to pack hand and foot warmers and a camera. The views are unmatched, and since the adventure is slower than skiing, this is an ideal opportunity to capture the backcountry of Colorado's winter wonderland on film. 

  • Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center: The Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center is free, fun, educational entertainment in Snowmass. See fossils and replicas, watch a video, talk to a real paleontologist and participate in other creative and interactive displays. This is a great way to warm up indoors, especially if you have kids or are on a budget. It's easy to spend all day in this museum. 

  • Anderson Ranch Arts Center: This arts center attracts artists from around the world (as well as visitors who want to do something creative). At the center, you can learn more art skills, meet other artists and immerse yourself in art. Meet visiting artists, see exhibitions, take workshops (like furniture-making, photography, ceramics and printmaking) and allow yourself to be inspired by the natural beauty of the mountain. Take your new photography or painting skills and capture Snowmass's beauty in a memorable souvenir that is one of a kind.  

Lodging

When you visit Snowmass, you’ll want to stay a while. One of the coolest things about Snowmass is how many different ski-in/ski-out options there are, from hotels to condos. That means you can literally ski out of the hotel door. Here are a few of the lodging highlights:

  • The Westin Snowmass: The Westin is one of Snowmass’s ski-in/ski-out options, located in Snowmass Village near the mall. This hotel includes a fitness studio, spa, a healthy menu, cozy bed, slope-side hot tubs, ski-in restaurants, killer apres — you name it.

  • Viceroy Snowmass: This luxurious resort is stationed at the base of the Snowmass mountain, in Base Village. The Viceroy is a ski-in/ski-out facility, complete with a Ute Indian-inspired spa, pool, cafe and great restaurants on site.

  • Wildwood Snowmass: The Wildwood, located steps from the ski slopes and the shopping mall, has its own unique charm. The decor here is retro, casual, hip and quirky. The property features a pool, outdoor hot tubs, a fitness center and a bar. As a bonus, this resort is a little more affordable than the others (although that’s considering a Colorado ski town price tag). Guests here can use the spa, dining, ski valet, kids club and more at the nearby Westin. This isn’t your average lodge.

  • Snowmass Mountain ChaletThis hotel, located right in Snowmass Village and close to the mountain and the Snowmass Mall, is another great ski-in/ski-out offering. After skiing, relax in the outdoor pool and spa tub. Conveniences for skiers include ski storage and a helpful concierge, as well as a free shuttle. The chalet is also close to the fun Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center and Anderson Ranch Arts Center.