Aspen, Colorado, has been attracting visitors from all over the world for nearly 50 years for its excellent ski terrain, heavy annual snowfall and stunning scenery.
Aspen consists of four major ski resorts: Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. These resorts are operated under one organization, the Aspen Ski Company, which was founded in 1946, after World War II, by Walter Paepcke and Friedl Pfeifer (who was a member of the 10th Mountain Division). The idea behind these resorts was to create a wonderful ski area nestled deep in the middle-of-nowhere Colorado.
Aspen Mountain aka Ajax
Ajax, located on the north flank of Aspen Mountain, was the first resort of the four to be completed. With 673 acres of skiable terrain, it offers a unique cultural flavor found in the many homemade memorials and tributes located at various locations throughout the mountain. These homages honor many famous (and local) personages including John Denver and Hunter S. Thompson.
The longest run on Ajax is three miles, and the mountain is generally known for its moderate to difficult runs. The Silver Queen Gondola rises 3,267 feet in about 20 minutes , allowing for spectacular views of the town and surrounding scenery. Ajax and Snowmass are the last areas to close for the season, which lasts until early April.
Aspen Highlands is the brain-child of Whipple Van Ness Jones I, who opened the resort in 1958. There was once a heated battle between Van Ness Jones and the Aspen Ski Co which went all the way to the Supreme Court. Afterwards, Van Ness donated the resort to Harvard University, who sold it to a Texas developer before it became part of the Aspen Ski Co.
Highlands is an intermediate to expert mountain, most famous for the Highland Bowl, which holds some of the most intense skiing in Colorado. There are 131 runs, and much of the steep terrain on the higher sections of the resort leads off a narrow ridge extending from Highland Peak. The mid to lower mountain terrain consists of rolling wide beginner and intermediate trails.
Aspen Highlands was also the backdrop for the 1993 skiing movie Aspen Extreme.
Snowmass is the largest of the four Aspen resorts, known for its wide cruiser runs, family-oriented atmosphere and ski-in/ski-out lodging. Contrary to its family-resort reputation, the resort also contains several terrain parks and extensive expert terrain.
Snowmass also offers the state’s first wind-powered lift. The construction of the lift was done with a conscious effort to maintain the fragility of the tundra while also allowing skiers access to one of the more pristine environments in the area. Skiers are left with the option of cruising down the side slope from the top of the cirque or daring to navigate steep tree glades and moguls.
Buttermilk has 435 acres of terrain and is best known for its long, wide groomer trails and steep rolling runs such as Tiehack. Buttermilk is also home to the ESPN Winter X Games, and will be through at least 2014. This resort is most welcoming to beginners or less experienced riders and skiers, however, there are two excellent terrain parks, Crazy T'rain and S3.
No matter which mountain you enjoy skiing, Alpine Property has perfect Aspen ski home to make your ski vacation the best ever.