If you're planning a trip to the Aspen area, you may feel overwhelmed by your choices: choices for activities, for lodging, for the season. But don’t worry — we can narrow it down for you.
While you might find fun up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, the City of Aspen and Snowmass Village (specifically, Snowmass Base Village at the base of Snowmass Ski Resort) are the two most popular choices for a vacationer’s home base. Both are ski areas, both are family-friendly, and although the local ski mountains also include Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, they’re a little less convenient if you don’t want to bother with commuting.
So we’ve narrowed it down to two mountains for you, but which of the two should you pick? We’ll take a look at the age-old “Aspen vs Snowmass” debate to help you make the right decision.
Aspen is a world-famous ski destination, so it’s often the first place people consider when heading to the area for a ski vacation. If you're looking for challenging, diverse terrain, it's hard to beat Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax), which sits directly in the center of town. It’s within walking distance from most Aspen lodging.
Aspen also has a great selection of restaurants and entertainment. While Aspen is best known for skiing, it also offers many other year-round activities. If you visit during warmer months, there are plenty of in-town hiking trails (Smuggler Mountain, the Hunter Creek Trail, Aspen Mountain Summer Road, or the Ajax Trail) as well as amazing kayaking, rafting, standup paddle boarding, and even fly fishing right in town during the summer.
If Aspen is so great, why even consider going anywhere else? Well (depending on the type of trip you're planning) there are a few drawbacks.
It's not really suited for beginners when it comes to skiing. During the peak ski season, it gets quite crowded (despite the pricey lift tickets), and lift lines can be long. Some Colorado vacationers — especially families — aren't looking for as much of an intense party and nightlife atmosphere. If you can relate to some of these issues, it's worth taking a look at Snowmass, instead.
Here are some additional attractions you'll find convenient to your accommodations, should you choose Aspen as your vacation home base:
Aspen Brewing Company. After a day of skiing, enjoy a huge selection of beers and live music most nights.
Wheeler Opera House. This beautiful historic building has all kinds of events including music, theater, and the annual Aspen Mountain Film Festival.
Exclusive and luxury shopping. Aspen offers an incredible choice of high-end and unique boutiques, antique stores, adventure gear, and plenty more. Many of them can be accessed simply by strolling along the downtown mall.
Paragliding. If skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking aren't enough, Aspen is also a premier destination for paragliding (you’ll have to wait until the snow has melted, though).
Snowmass is the largest mountain in the Aspen/Snowmass area. It also offers more family ski options, and wide open groomed terrain for beginners and intermediates, and it’s also a favorite with snowboarders. The atmosphere at Snowmass tends to be low-key, making it more attractive for both families and couples looking for a relaxing getaway.
The terrain around Snowmass Village offers world-class mountain biking. And, like Aspen, you'll find plenty of in-village hiking trails.
While you won't find the same diversity of luxury retail shops, restaurants, and bars as Aspen, there are still plenty of great choices. If you're looking for a bustling nightlife, you might find Snowmass a little too quiet; however, it's perfect if you want to focus on enjoying the outdoors sports and spend time with your loved ones.
Snowmass also tends to offer lower prices for accommodations and entertainment.
Snowmass, like Aspen, has more than its share of fun activities, many taking place right in or around Base Village, so commuting isn’t necessary:
The Treehouse Kids Adventure Center is a fun place for kids of all ages, and a great place for kids to hang out while their parents get some quality alone time, too.
Ullr Nights take place on Snowmass Mountain every Friday night during the ski season. Simply take the gondola from Base Village to Elk Camp. Ride the Alpine Coaster, go tubing or snowbiking, and enjoy some s’mores and hot cocoa!
Snowmass Balloon Festival happens every September. This 3-day festival has hot air balloon races as well as concerts and other entertainment.
The Snowmass Bike Park is just one of the great mountain biking spots in the area.
If you're a jazz lover, you'll want to check out the variety of performances and festivals put on by Jazz Aspen Snowmass. There are also free outdoor concerts during the summer.
The annual Snowmass Rendezvous Craft Beer Festival in June brings live music and 30+ craft Colorado breweries to the Village. Get a REAL taste of mountain craft!
Yoga on the Mountain is an annual three-day summer celebration taking place within Snowmass Village itself. You’ll enjoy 60+ yoga and meditation classes, plus presentations on health and nutrition. The event also includes plenty live music, guided local hikes, social gatherings, eats + drinks, and eco-friendly vendors for shopping.
So: Aspen vs Snowmass... What's the Verdict?
Both Aspen and Snowmass have a great deal to offer both winter and summer adventurers. Both locations offer vacation rental options right in the heart of the action.
If you're finding it difficult to choose between the two, there's really no need to despair — we promise you can’t go wrong! Aspen and Snowmass are located a mere eight miles apart, so there's no reason you can't enjoy the best of both worlds.
You could always stay at Snowmass and scurry over to Aspen, or vice versa. Anyone who enjoys refreshing mountain air, gorgeous views, and any kind of adventure should make it a point to visit both, eventually!
Alpine Property specializes in both Aspen and Snowmass vacation rentals, real estate and property management. Contact us when you’ve made your choice (or ask us for personalized advice) and learn more.