The Snow Report
Snowmass, true to its name, gets a boatload of snow: 300 inches per year, and 10 percent of its days are powder ones. Nestled within the Rockies’ majestic grandeur and White River National Forest, it’s one of the four members of Skico’s Aspen group (along with Highlands, Buttermilk, and Aspen Mountain) and shares their excellent ski school. Take a lesson here and you’ll likely get a high-level instructor, plus options for special programs like the three-day Black Diamond Expedition.
When you’re not conquering the 3,132 ski acres (4,406 vertical feet), you can snowshoe, cross-country ski, or take a backcountry tour. There are also three terrain parks, sleigh rides, an outdoor ice rink, a climbing wall, and a winter staff of 1,500 at the ready.
Snowmass is the home of the shared daycare facility for Skico’s four resorts, which’ll watch tots as young as eight weeks old. The $17-million, 25,000-square-foot Treehouse Adventure Center enthralls with hands-on activities and themed spaces like the Butterfly Room, Trout Haven, and a kid-centric climbing gym.
There’s a free roundtrip shuttle to Aspen Village, nine miles away, but Snowmass Mall has shops, dining spots, and bars, and Snowmass Base Village, a short gondola ride down, also promises entertainment—Basecamp features live music and dancing. Six hotels (plus some rental condos) comprise Snowmass’s lodgings, and some are ski-in/ski-out: the lovely, modern Viceroy Snowmass, Snowmass Mountain Chalet, and Stonebridge Inn. The 254-room Westin Snowmass, which opens this winter after a complete overhaul of the former Silvertree Hotel, will be ski-in/ski-out too, and will offer a full-service ski concierge. Also new here is Elk Camp, a $13-million mid-mountain restaurant a few feet from one of Snowmass’s two gondolas. The upscale, multi-station eatery has an outdoor deck and its building is LEED-certified.
Though Snowmass does make some eco-efforts—all facilities on the hill recycle and there’s a free parking lot for hybrids—conservation has been a bit of a hot issue here. In October, a judge ruled that Snowmass could develop 230 additional acres of ski runs, brushing aside the concerns of a non-profit concerned about all the trees the Burnt Mountain project would kill. On the flip side, Snowmass does maintain its own 115-kilowatt micro-hydroelectric plant which prevents 150 tons of carbon dioxide being released.
Snowmass is one of the most expensive resorts on this list, so to squeeze the most out of your money, consider timing your visit so that you can either experience Bud Light Big Air Fridays (every Friday from February 8 to March 29), when athletes showcase their newest big-jump tricks, or Schneetag on closing day (April 14), when costumed teams try to propel a self-built craft down a slope and over a 30-foot-wide pond. Needless to say, most participants end up soaked, and spectators end up doubled over in laughter.
CONTACT: (888) 649-5982, aspensnowmass.com
SEASON: Late November to mid-April