Skiing in Aspen: How to Plan Your Perfect Winter Mountain Experience

Man skiing quickly down Aspen Mountain Ski hill in Aspen, Colorado during winter

Imagine sunny days, immaculate slopes, snow-dusted evergreen trees, and a holiday-lit downtown. Does that sound like an ideal winter ski destination? If so, skiing in Aspen is an experience you won't want to miss!

Aspen Snowmass is one of North America's most popular ski resorts and has some of the best skiing in the world. It features 335 total ski trails across four mountains and many choices for beginners and expert skiers alike.

There is no reason not to choose Aspen Snowmass for your next skiing adventure. And here's a beginner-friendly guide to get you started. We will tell you everything you need to know to have a good time and prepare you for your trip.

The Aspen Mountain Names: What You Need to Know if It's Your First Time Here

There are four different mountains (or ski areas) in Aspen Snowmass

  • Aspen Mountain

  • Aspen Highlands

  • Buttermilk Mountain

  • Snowmass Mountain. 

Each ski area offers unique experiences, but if you're a beginner, your best bet is Buttermilk Mountain or Snowmass Mountain. 

Man skiing fresh powder under Aspen Mountain Gondola in Aspen, Colorado during peak winter season

Aspen Mountain

Many know Aspen Mountain for its steep glades, exhilarating bumps, and of course, Bell Mountain. It also offers incredible Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley views, especially if you take the Silver Queen Gondola. You'll also not want to miss the Ajax Tavern's daily festivities at the mountain's base. If you love skiing light and puffy snow, you'll want to check out the Aspen Mountain powder tours and backcountry skiing opportunities.

Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands is known for its expert terrain —be sure to check out the famous Highland Bowl. Just be prepared for some hiking to get to the top. It's worth it, though, as it extends the entire vertical drop of the area to 4,202 feet. If you're an expert skier, you'll also want to get your thrills on the Steeplechase and Olympic Bowl runs.

Buttermilk Mountain

Buttermilk Mountain is ideal for beginners and offers a much more leisurely skiing experience. It's chock-full of rolling trails that are easy to start, and it's where the Winter X Games are held! It also has a section for more experienced skiers, so watch for the Buttermilk Tiehack.


The Snowmass ski area is a top choice for many beginners and intermediate skiers because it has all the variety you're looking for in a ski resort. You'll want to plan for at least a few days up on the mountain, as there are 91 trails and 21 chairlifts. It's ideal as a holiday spot because there are many incredible places to see and things to do in and around Snowmass Village.

How to Get Here

Because it's close to four airports, Aspen is very accessible. If you're flying in, take your pick from: 

  • Aspen-Pitkin County Airport

  • Eagle County Airport

  • Grand Junction Regional Airport

  • Denver International Airport

Flying into the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is the most direct way to get here. It is usually the most expensive option, but you won't have to arrange a shuttle service or rental car.

If you are flying internationally and coming in via Denver International Airport, you can use a private shuttle service or public bus to get you where you need to go.

Accommodations and Ski Packages: Where to Stay and Where to Find All-Inclusive Deals

If you're looking for a unique experience, find ski resorts in Aspen Snowmass or a hotel that offers ski-in/ski-out services. This means you can step out the door, and off you go. While there are plenty of great offers on hotels, resorts, or chalets in Aspen, most are on the mountain or the edge of town, which can make trips a little longer. 

Your choice will come down to your budget, and there is no wrong answer. Just because the walk is a bit longer doesn't mean you can't enjoy the spectacular views while out and about!

For five-star resorts, look at the following: 

  • The Little Nell

  • The St. Regis Aspen Resort

  • Hotel Jerome

  • Viceroy Snowmass

Resorts that are easier on the budget:

  • The Eagle River Lodge

  • Mountain Chalet Spa

  • St. Moritz Lodge

  • The Inn at Aspen

  • The Snow Queen Lodge

For information about all-inclusive vacation packages, contact the Aspen Skiing Company. These packages include:

  • Lodging

  • Airfare

  • Ground Transportation

  • Lift tickets

  • Activity tickets

  • Equipment rentals

  • Lessons

  • And more.

No matter where you stay, ensure you're not too far from the action. Hoisting all that gear home after a long day is a big ask, and you want to make sure you have plenty of energy left to hit the town and enjoy the nightlife.

Man resting after hiking up Highlands Bowl in Aspen, Colorado during winter

Can Beginners Ski in Aspen?

Aspen Snowmass is popular with expert skiers. But like other Colorado ski resorts, it puts the beginner experience at the fore. It's a great place to learn to ski and snowboard too. You'll find facilities catering to both children and adults. And you'll never be confused about what to do or where to go. Or what precisely a bunny slope is. 

Ski School

Adults learning to ski for the first time will appreciate the Snowmass Beginner's Magic™ three-day program. The program is designed to make you feel confident throughout the learning experience. Adults enrolled in the Beginner's Magic program can choose between Snowmass and Buttermilk for their instruction. Or you can alternate between the two mountains.

We recommend taking a class in Snowmass for beginners who want to experience the scenery of the Rocky Mountains. They hold the adult programs right at the peak of Elk Camp Gondola. The spectacular views will excite you about getting going on your journey. 

Beginner Terrain

There is also The Meadows, a beginner area on top of Elk Camp Gondola in Snowmass. It boasts gentle slopes, a magic carpet (a conveyor-style belt for skiers up the bunny hill), and a beginner-friendly chairlift. We know they look intimidating, but we promise they're fun and part of the experience.

If you want to be closer to downtown Aspen for your first day out and about, you'll want to start at the Buttermilk base area. They have a magic carpet, a beginner chairlift, an excellent ski school, and equipment rentals. You'll likely want to do some exploring as you get more confident. So be sure to check out the Summit Express Lift for a smooth, meandering trail that comes back to the main base of the mountain. 

Alternatively, head to West Buttermilk for several short and easy trails like Larkspur or Westward Ho.

How Hard Is Aspen to Ski?

Each mountain in the area has a distinct personality. And while Highlands and Aspen Mountain are not beginner-friendly, Snowmass and Buttermilk are.

Countless local families swear by Panda Peak's gentle, accessible acres of terrain to introduce their children to the sport. And Buttermilk's two snow parks — beginner-friendly West Buttermilk and authentic X Games Park and Pipe — keep aspiring free-riders occupied all day.

Families or groups of diverse ages, abilities, and preferences would likely prefer Snowmass. It has something for everyone. One person can lap Hanging Valley's steeps and powder fields while another explores the countless cruisers. Kids of all ages may explore Snowmass's dozen-plus tree routes and three terrain parks. Or, better yet, they can learn from the pros at the ski and snowboard school. And everyone can get together for lunch at Elk Camp, perhaps with a few rides on the new Breathtaker Alpine Coaster thrown in for good measure.

We know Snowmass as a family-friendly mountain, and it truly is, regardless of what every skier or rider in the family desires.

Is Aspen Expensive to Ski?

If you look at the property price here, it's expensive. Homes sell for over $2.9 million on average. It's undoubtedly a hotspot for celebrities and the high-rollers of society, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it on a tighter budget. 

That being said, Aspen shows off its luxury in the tiny details, from covered water fountains and Prosecco in the fridges of coffee shops. See if you can spot the bite-sized free libraries dotted around town or the art galleries on every street.

Several affordable restaurants and groceries are also cheap for self-catering lodges. Aspen can be expensive to ski, and while single-day lift tickets are pricey, you can often find deals by booking ahead or buying in-resort. 

Skiing in Aspen, Colorado, and its associated cost are worth it. Find and enjoy the luxury where you can, but know you don't need to break the bank to enjoy what Aspen offers. Watch for travel, ski, and lodging packages to get more bang for your buck.

Women skiing down Highlands Bowl in Aspen, Colorado during winter

When to Go Skiing in Aspen

The best time to visit is between December and March. And skiing in Aspen in December should be at the top of your bucket list. This is the beginning of the winter season, and it's famous for a reason. You'll find good powder and significant snowfall, but this is also one of the most expensive times to go.

It's worth visiting in December for the atmosphere, but we promise the skiing will be good too.

The ski season is in full swing in January, with most lifts and lines open for business. Skiing in Aspen in February often means a powder day. It's also a popular time for other sports like tubing. March is notorious for being one of the snowiest months here, and the days are longer, which means more time for some après-ski drinks!

Aspen also has a vibrant summer season if you're not into skiing. This is the time for travelers to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. Visit us from June to September for world-class hiking, bikingfly fishing, and other fun activities.

Want More Aspen Life?

Whether you're new to skiing in Aspen or a seasoned pro, we know how hard it can be to decide where and what to do—activities like Snowmass Alpine Coaster, Yoga, and Snowmobiling. We've covered you from what local businesses to check out and not-to-be-missed activities and events on Aspen's skiable acres. 

If you are searching for specific businesses in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, you've come to the right place! Visit our comprehensive Business Directory to find all the local goods and services you need.

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