Locals Guide to Opening Day at Aspen Snowmass

Activities, Ski Snowmass


2019/2020 Opening Dates

Which Aspen Snowmass mountains and runs are your favorites? This year, you’ve got two major opening dates to prepare for: November 23 and December 7, 2019:

• Aspen Mountain (AJAX): Opens November 23 (running to April 19, 2020)

• Snowmass: Opens November 23 (running to April 19, 2020)

• Aspen Highlands: Opens December 7 (running to April 12, 2020)

• Buttermilk: Opens December 7 (running to April 5, 2020)

Come Prepared

Dig out and take a look at your warm winter clothes so that you can stock up on any new base layers, goggles, gloves, helmet or other items if needed. Next, take your skis or snowboard to your favorite ski shop for a tune-up, so your edges and bases behave the way you want them to on the snow. And don't wait until opening day to get your feet used to your boots again — give them a try and get used to the fit early on.

Prepping for Aspen opening day means it's time to get your gear in shape — but you'd better make sure your body's in shape, too! While you may want to take it easy on your first day on the slopes, getting physically ready in advance can go a long way towards increasing ski stamina and performance. If you're already in strong physical shape before your first ride on the lift, you're less likely to suffer an opening day injury (or crippling exhaustion)!

Get Your Ski Pass in Advance

Who wants to stand in a never-ending line when the people who planned ahead are already on a third run down the mountain? Not you, we’re sure. Get ready by choosing and purchasing your ski pass in advance so you can skip the ticket booth and proceed right to the lifts.

Locals who expect to spend much of the winter on the slopes tend to opt for season passes rather than daily tickets. With a pass, you can ski all winter long without stopping to renew.  All sorts of exclusive benefits are also available to passholders; for many avid skiers and boarders, the cost benefits make the choice a no-brainer. If you think your ski time may be limited this season, though, check out daily lift tickets, which provide discounts when you buy them in multi-day units.

Whichever option you choose, the same pass or ticket will be valid for all four Aspen Snowmass mountains, so you can stick to your favorite slopes or get in as much variety as you desire! 

Make a Parking Plan

While Aspen has eight parking lots available for skiers, they fill up quickly (especially the free lots). If you plan to drive to the slopes, consider a transferable parking pass for the season. It'll save you money, but it doesn't guarantee you a parking spot. 

Make your drive a little easier by signing up for PitkinAlerts, which are text messages from Pitkin County's travel officials. These notifications let you know about road closures or severe weather problems so you can avoid issues ahead of time.

Those who don't want the admitted hassle of wintertime driving or getting up ultra-early to find a parking spot may want to opt for public transportation in the form of Aspen's RFTA buses. The buses run regularly, have ski racks on the side, and drop you off right at the base of the mountain, making the whole process easy.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

When you know what weather to expect, you can make informed choices about prepping for your day on the slopes — like deciding to cuddle up inside with hot chocolate instead when storms are about to hit. 

Check out the official Aspen Snowmass weather page at any time to get up-to-date information, as well as a five-day forecast including current and anticipated snow conditions, any expected snowfall, and anticipated wind conditions.

If you want more visceral information than a few numbers can provide, check out the views from the mountain cams. Every one of Aspen's mountains features live video to let you see with your own eyes what's going on up on the slopes.

Pay Attention to Early Season Conditions

Early in the season, the snowpack hasn't settled down yet, and the ski resorts are still discovering the areas where they need to put up warning signage. When you're mindful of the early season conditions, you're being smart and playing it safe. Check online for grooming reports to see which trails and parks are groomed and ready for use.

Keep safe during the early season by staying on the open runs. Early in the season is not the time to ski through the trees, no matter how experienced a skier or boarder you are.

It only takes a little bit of preparation to make sure that your opening days at Aspen Snowmass are the best ever. Take advantage of all the information provided to stay safe and have fun, and prep your gear and yourself to enjoy opening day to the fullest.

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