Snowmass is a huge, sprawling mountain, boasting over 3,300 skiable acres, but don’t let that intimidate you. A lot of attention is devoted to Snowmass beginner skiing. The experience of learning how to ski at Snowmass is bar none; from the gentle slopes of Snowmass’ green trails, to convenient chairlift access, including the new Elk Camp Gondola, to a world-class ski school. Snowmass is the perfect ski resort for a beginner skier looking to comfortably advance their skiing and have fun exploring the mountain. Snowmass has several designated beginner areas, one of which is the new Elk Camp, and provides an unbeatable beginner skiing experience by allowing skiers to learn up on the mountain, rather than the base area. The Snowmass Ski School is known throughout the world for providing top-notch instruction for beginner skiers of all ages. Beginner children especially love skiing at Snowmass, thanks to the uber- popular Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center.
Snowmass provides three large beginner-friendly zones on the mountain: Elk Camp, Assay Hill, and Fanny Hill. Each of the first time skier zones on the mountain have mellow, beginner runs that let beginners get comfortable on snow, learn how to ski, and not worry about biting off more than they can chew. Keep an eye out for the green circle on the Snowmass trail map and trails signs, which denotes the easiest trails on the mountain. A series of tree runs wind throughout Snowmass that are made for beginners. Lunchline is the best beginner terrain at Snowmass, and a perfect introduction to tree skiing. Other trails, with gentle slopes, like Dawdler and Scooper are textbook places for beginner skiers and snowboarders to comfortably practice their technique and master their turns.
For beginner skier’s ages six and under, the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center at Snowmass is unlike any other beginner ski area. The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center is a 25,000-square-foot facility that was built by the same people who constructed Universal Studios to give young kids a spot to feel comfortable when learning how to ski. With an array of playgrounds, a ski school specializing in instruction for young children, a cafeteria that serves up kid-appeasing food like chicken fingers and pizza, a rental shop stocked full of ski gear for kids, and more, the Treehouse is where young beginners will learn the fundamentals of skiing, while having fun. No other resort in North America can offer an experience like the one found at Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center in Snowmass.
The top of the Elk Camp Gondola is where “never-evers” of all ages will spend most of their time at Snowmass. Elk Camp is a brand facility built entirely for beginner skiers interested in learning to ski or ride during their Snowmass ski trip. At most resorts, the beginner ski area is relegated to the bottom portions of the mountain, but learning to ski during a trip to Snowmass is different. The Elk Camp beginner area is unique because a first time skier is able to ride the Gondola and fully enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery, rather than sticking to the base area. This, including the other conveniences and amenities Elk Camp provides, creates a richer experience for the beginner skier.
The Beginner Magic Lounge is a must-do for where adults who have never skied before. There’s a rental shop at Elk Camp stocked with safe gear made specifically with beginners in mind. The shop’s staff knows you might be a little intimidated by the whole experience, so they make things easy and comfortable for you by making you laugh and reminding you that skiing’s all about having fun. Ski school lessons for beginners will use the magic carpet and beginner chairlift. If you graduate to the bigger slopes, you can ski to the bottom and the rental shop at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola will send your shoes down for you.
Snowmass is touted as being a family-friendly resort with tons of intermediate terrain, but don’t forget that there is also world-class expert skiing at Snowmass. Expert skiers and riders looking to tee-up cliffs and explore extreme terrain at Snowmass have several in-bounds areas to choose from.
The two hike-to zones in Snowmass are the Cirque (accessed from the Cirque Poma at the top of the Sheer Bliss chair) and Hanging Valley (which is just a short traverse from the top of the High Alpine chairlift). Both of these zones were formerly venues of an annual extreme skiing competition at Snowmass. The Cirque Headwall is a steep, rock-littered shot that funnels into a fun gully. You’re going to see tons of cliffs with good take-offs and landings throughout the area. And, Hanging Valley has a lot of everything—steeps, trees, cliffs, and wide-open powder fields. If you’re on the hunt for fresh snow and challenging terrain, devote some time to exploring both zones, you won’t be disappointed.
If you like moguls don’t miss Sam’s Knob and all the bumped out tree runs around Big Burn chairlift, especially Garret Gulch, Powerline and Sneaky’s Glades.
The three Snowmass terrain parks—a 22-foot SuperPipe (the same size as the halfpipe in X Games), and a beginner half pipe for aspiring pro-park skiers and riders—rivals that which you’ll find at nearby Buttermilk, home of the Winter X Games since 2002. The jumps are clean and lofty, the pipe is meticulously groomed, and the beginner features are prime spots to practice tricks in a safe progressive manner before venturing to the bigger jumps and rails.
Snowmass’ has 3,300-plus skiable acres and intermediate runs rule nearly half of that total acreage, making it a blue skier’s dream. Intermediates have a never-ending amount of pristine groomers, and gentle, fun glades reserved just for them at Snowmass.
The best Snowmass intermediate skiing can be accessed from three different chairlifts: The Big Burn, Alpine Springs, and Elk Camp. The Big Burn chairlift is a high-speed quad that is surrounded by long, famous groomers and several fun tree runs. You could easily spend a whole day lapping Big Burn chair and never get sick of runs like Sneaky’s or Dallas Freeway. In fact, you could spend a whole day in the Big Burn area and ski a different groomer every time. Sheer Bliss is another must-ski Snowmass intermediate run in that area, and can also be accessed from the Sheer Bliss chairlift.
The groomed runs off of the Alpine Springs chairlift are perfect for intermediate skiing in the afternoon. Green Cabin and Copper Pot often get groomed in the morning and after lunch, so pristine corduroy is on-hand. The rolling slopes of Naked Lady run are a fun route for lapping the Alpine Springs chairlift.
Most Snowmass lovers would agree that one of the best intermediate runs at Snowmass happens to be one of the longest runs in North America. Long Shot is accessed by a quick hike from the top of the Elk Camp chairlift, which rewards skiers with more than five miles of blue square perfection. Your legs will be burning after skiing Long Shot, but it’s so good that you’ll be begging for more. If you go looker’s right off the Elk Camp chair there are more fun, rolling Snowmass intermediate skiing terrain to explore, like Sandy Park and Grey Wolf.
The overwhelming majority—95-percent—of the accommodations in Snowmass are ski in, ski out or just steps from the slopes. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for luxury Snowmass hotels with endless amenities or trying to cut costs by choosing one of the dozens of affordable Snowmass lodging options, you’ll always be waking up near the chairlifts during your Snowmass ski vacation.
The Viceroy Snowmass is one of the most notable Snowmass hotels. The Viceroy mixes urban chic with mountain rustic, offering everything from studio rooms to four-bedroom condominiums. Every room boasts fine amenities and world-class service is found everywhere in this expansive property. Capital Peak Lodge is a great option if you want to blend luxury with the familiar feel of home. They have a concierge on-site and a prime location in the Snowmass Base Village are just steps from the high-speed, six-person chairlift and Elk Camp Gondola, both are found at the bottom of Snowmass Mountain.
Hip and cool hotels like Wildwood Snowmass and Westin Snowmass have sprouted up in Snowmass recently. Young professionals in search of a slick slopeside hotel and a hopping après scene in the hotel bar will love the Holiday Inn Express. The Holiday Inn Express' youthful atmosphere is great for families, too. There’s an awesome game room one floor above the lobby with a foosball table and video games to play, and couches for teens to kickback on while watching movies. The Holiday Inn Express' lounge-style bar off the lobby is the perfect place for adults to relax with a cold New Belgium beer after a day on the slopes.
The Westin’s refined charm is a new addition to the Snowmass hotel scene, and is already a favorite spot for visitors who love the Westin experience. A superb location, right on the Snowmass Mall, tiered hot tubs and a pool sit directly next to the ski run, Fanny Hill, and a beautiful lobby overlooking the slopes makes a stay at the Westin during your Snowmass ski vacation an easy decision.
For those looking for something a little different, there are condominiums and homes ranging from sprawling family-friendly residences like the slopeside Crestwood Condominiums, Pokolodi Lodge and ski in, ski out Top of the Village to affordable lodging options like the Timberlineand Snowmass Inn.
The Snowmass nightlife scene has undergone a renaissance recently. In the last three years Snowmass has seen a handful of bars with picture-perfect patios open up. The Snowmass nightlife is actually more of an après-ski scene. You won’t find a hopping late-night bar scene in Snowmass, that’s all down the road in Aspen, so be sure to take advantage of Snowmass lively post-skiing.
Once you’re legs have had enough it’s time for a proper Snowmass après-ski. Head to après hotspots like the New Belgium Ranger Station at the Westin Snowmass or Venga Venga on the Snowmass Mall where people pack in for post-skiing drafts and their famous margaritas. If you have a taste for native Colorado beers then the New Belgium Ranger Station will please with well-loved drafts like Fat-Tire and Ranger IPA. If you have a taste for Mexican beverage with a contemporary flare don’t miss Venga Venga’s handcrafted prickly pear or spicy orange margarita. Sneaky’s and Base Camp are two hotspots—both with sunny patios—in the Snowmass Base Village where the Happy Hour specials help the après scene blend into late night partying. Don’t be shocked if you’re still in your ski boots close to 9 p.m. after having a “few” après drinks at any of these hopping joints.
The Bar at Wildwood is a slick new Snowmass nightlife spot with 10 taps pouring New Belgium’s best beers. This hip go-to for drinks in Snowmass is packed on a nightly basis.
Don’t forget you’re just a quick—and free—20-minute bus ride from Aspen. In Aspen you’ll find an overwhelming array of bars and clubs to choose from, but don’t miss the famous Belly Up venue for world-class live concerts, Eric’s for affordable drinks and billiards, Justice Snow’s for hip mixology cocktails, The Regal or Escobar if you’re looking for a dance party and the historic Red Onion to mingle with local skiers and boarders.
Just because you’re in the “Aspen area” doesn’t mean you don’t have to break the bank. The key to Snowmass on a budget is keeping everything simple. If saving money on your ski vacation is high on your list of priorities, Snowmass has incredibly affordable lodging and dining options. Unlike neighboring Aspen, you’re not going to see too many fur coats or bling in Snowmass, which is one of its draws. But, if you want to venture into Aspen to see what it’s all about, the bus to downtown Aspen is free. Budget-conscious visitors love using Snowmass Village as the headquarters for their trip to the Aspen/Snowmass area!
Try to stick to the slightly dated hotels and condos during your lodging search if you’re looking to pinch pennies. You’re going to find good deals in Snowmass at the slightly older spots, while still enjoying great amenities.
At Timberline Condominiums you don’t have to sacrifice experience for price. This 88-unit property is located right on Snowmass’ Fanny Hill and offers a slopeside pool and hot tub for after skiing enjoyment. Just picture yourself curled up next the unit’s cozy fire place or enjoying views of the slopes, village and surrounding Elk Mountains from the condo’s balcony. Located just 250 yards from the base village’s lifts, Stonebridge Inn offers an incredibly convenient locale at an incredibly affordable rate. The Inn features 95 lodge rooms, the majority of which offer views of the slopes, village or pool. And about that, the Snowmass Inn has a great hot tub and pool perfect for relaxing after a full day on the mountain.
The Snowmass Inn also offers a great rate for a great locale. The property is located less than 250 yards from the slopes and directly in front of the Sky Cab or “Skittles” Cab. The Inn is perfectly placed between the Base Village and the Snowmass Village Mall.
Check out the little food carts and windows in the Snowmass Mall for affordable dining in Snowmass. A coffee and a bagel at Fuel won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet for breakfast, Taste of Philly is a small window serving delicious sandwiches, the Little Dill dishes out awesome and affordable lunch plates, and the Happy Hour at Zane’s is the best in Snowmass!
If you’re looking for a nice meal and great atmosphere sans exorbitant ski resort prices The Artisan at The Stonebridge Inn and The Edge at Timberline Condominiums offer delicious American fare, both modern and classic, at a reasonable rate. You won’t pay more than $30 for an entrée at either restaurant.
Affordable things to do in Snowmass are numerous, so don’t sit in your hotel watching television, get out there and enjoy! From wildlife tours to the Snowmass mammoth discovery center to nighttime parties at Elk Camp, there are affordable things to do in Snowmass to pique nearly everyone’s interest. Nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts should head to the Wapiti Wildlife Center at the top of Elk Camp and take a run with one of the center’s naturalist guides. They’ll teach you all about Snowmass’ high alpine environment, including wildlife and avalanches. All you need to participate is a lift-ticket to be over the age of seven, and be able to ski blue square runs.
Science and history buffs should consider a visit to the free Ice Age Discovery Center in Snowmass Village, where you can learn about the prehistoric Ice Age animals that were unearthed at Snowmass in 2010.
Grab a group of friends or your family for some starry, nighttime fun. From 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday nights you can can head up on the Gondola to Elk Camp ($10 for adults, $5 for children ages four to 12) for Ullr Nights, a weekly winter celebration featuring a bonfire, sledding, hot chocolate, s’mores, a la carte cuisine, live music and much more. For an additional $35 you can enjoy a moonlit snowshoe tour, and for an additional $69 you can participate in an exhilarating snowbike tour.
Renowned by ski magazines as one of the best family friendly ski resorts in North America; it’s no surprise that providing the perfect family ski vacation is a Snowmass specialty. Families flock to Snowmass because of the endless array of on- and off-mountain things to do with kids, ski in ski out condos and hotels that make getting kids out the door in the morning a snap, affordable and kid-friendly dining options, and a world-class ski school.
Family friendly condominiums—like the Crestwood Condominiums—line the base of Snowmass, and ski in ski out condos are a perfect option for families looking to spend time together on the slopes. Most Snowmass condos have a hot tub and/or pool, which the kids love. The whole family is sure to relish skiing to and from Top of the Village, which is located just where you’d think: at the top of the Snowmass Village Mall. The heated outdoor pool and two outdoor hot tubs will have kids and parents alike on cloud nine after a fun filled day on the slopes.
The Pokolodi Lodge is one of the best family accommodations in Snowmass. Kids love the outdoor swimming pool, plus the lodge’s convenient location—less than 250 yards from the chairlifts—make schlepping gear and getting everyone out the door in the morning a cinch.
The Treehouse Kid’s Adventure Center in the Snowmass Base Village is designed solely with young kids in mind (there are even signs that say “No Parents Allowed”). The 25,000-square-foot facility was built by the same design studio that dreamed up Universal Studios, Sea World, and numerous children’s museums. The Treehouse in Snowmass is a one-stop-spot for kids, and you won’t find anything like it at any other resort. It includes a playground, rental shop with gear for children, ski school for kids, ticket office, cafeteria and Colorado-state licensed daycare for children ages eight weeks to four years old. Interactive rooms include The Bear Den, where daily puppet shows take the stage, and the forest-themed Beaver Lodge playroom, where skiing and science lessons are wrapped up into one fun experience for kids.
The new Elk Camp Gondola station at the top of the mountain is a perfect spot for families to take a break while skiing Snowmass. Every Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the winter months, Ullr Nights transforms the Elk Camp area into a family hotspot. The s’mores and hot chocolates by the bonfire, ice skating on the pond, and sledding hill lure families up. Ullr Nights at Elk Camp only costs $10 for adults and $5 for children age four to 12 (kids ages 3 and under are free). And don’t forget it’s always free for kids six and under to ski at Snowmass and the other three Aspen/Snowmass mountains.
Families love skiing at Snowmass because there are tons of trails tailored to kids. Keep an eye out for the marked tree trails—like Skateboard Alley, Prospector Trail and Hidden Highway. Kids love lapping Snowmass’ tree trails, which are meant to give kids (and parents) a feeling like a roller coaster ride and the sense of exploring the wilderness.
For those interested in going fast, the Children’s Race Arena and NASTAR race course are awesome setups. An announcer calls out the times and allows kids to feel like Lindsey Vonn or Bode Miller. Parents can watch from the sidelines or are welcome to hop in the starting gate and race too. The Race Arena is located between Dawdler and Scooper, two runs the entire family will love. And, the beginner half pipe and mini-terrain park is the spot where aspiring park skiers and boarders can get a feel for hitting small jumps and sliding on safe park features.
A lot of the Snowmass family restaurants are located at the Base Village and Snowmass Mall, and like the runs on the mountain these eating joints are fun for the whole family. Slice, a pizza joint, and the Snowmass Bakery share the rustic red barn in the Base Village and are two great options for a family meal. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the Snowmass Mall is the spot to snag a treat after a great day of skiing Snowmass.
Just eight miles from one of the most luxurious ski destinations in the world, you can imagine that Snowmass doesn’t fall from its world-class sister resort, Aspen. Snowmass’ recent addition of several new high end lodging options and its new base village has added a whole new level of refinement to the resort.
In the last few years, the possibility of having a luxurious and pampered experience in Snowmass has become big news. The Viceroy recently brought its world-renowned reputation to the Snowmass Base Village. The rooms are incredible, the service is attentive, and the 7,000-square-foot spa at the Viceroy beckons visitors looking to indulge and relax after a day on the slopes. The spa menu at The Viceroy Snowmass offers facials, body treatments, and rituals that will get you rejuvenated and ready for another day on the slopes or a fun night on the town. The Viceroy also has in-room and poolside pampering if you’re interested in something unique.
Everyone knows that it doesn’t get much more luxurious, or comfortable, than a Westin Heavenly Bed. In addition to the restful sleep you will find at the new Westin Snowmass Resort, which is located in the heart of the Snowmass Mall and directly on the Fanny Hill ski run, you can treat yourself in their world-class spa. Relax and revitalize on your Snowmass luxury ski vacation by indulging in massages, body treatments, and facials designed to pamper you after a day of skiing and getting you rejuvenated for more.
Two other options for luxury hotels in Snowmass are the Hayden Lodge and Capital Peak Lodge, both located just steps from Fanny Hill in the Snowmass Base Village. There are plush interiors and lavish rooms in Hayden, and an on-site concierge. Capital Peak’s valet and grocery services, on-site concierge, heated underground parking, and modern kitchens are the perfect home away from home for your Snowmass luxury ski vacation.
If you’re not a skier or your legs are sore after a few days of skiing hard, there are a handful of great things to do in Snowmass off the mountain.
The restaurants in Snowmass are as varied as this world-class mountain’s terrain. Snowmass restaurants range from classy fine-dining establishments to family-friendly to quick, easy, and affordable restaurants. The majority of the restaurants in Snowmass are found in the Snowmass Base Village and Snowmass Mall areas, and a lot of the hotels in Snowmass have noteworthy in-house restaurants.
For foodies looking for fine dining in Snowmass, il Poggio is an Italian institution in the Snowmass Mall. The ambiance at il Poggio is cozy, warm and inviting. The pasta dishes are authentic, fresh and delicious and the wine list is extensive.
Head to the Snowmass Kitchen, located in the new Westin Snowmass for sophisticated ski in ski out dining. The seasonal menu is delicious and healthy, the dining room sits slopeside, and private dining rooms are available for any special occasion.
For a casual, inexpensive meal head to the Snowmass Mall, there you’ll find spots like Stew Pot, one of the oldest restaurants in Snowmass; Zane’s, a local favorite for chicken wings and cheese-steak sandwiches; and the Big Hoss Grill, a guarantee for good, grilled food.
For a nice atmosphere and an affordable meal, head The Edge Restaurant, located at the Timberline Condominiums is must-try with top-notch entrees averaging $25. The menu is sure to please all palates, featuring a variety of cuisine from mountain fare to seafood.
For an upmarket experience with reasonable prices, give The Artisan at The Stonebridge Inn in the Snowmass Village Mall a try. Entrees don’t exceed $30, and everyone is sure to love the modern American/European fare and cozy environment.
Snowmass ensures you get the most skiing in by providing numerous−and yummy−on-mountain dining options. The new Elk Camp restaurant serves up organic, locally sourced food and other gourmet items, like roasted chicken or pork loin on a French baguette. Ullrhof, located next to the bottom of the Big Burn chairlift, is a great place to drop in for big, juicy burgers (and veggie burgers), house-cut fries and homemade milkshakes. For a lunch that the whole family will enjoy, head to Up 4 Pizza, located at the top of Big Burn chairlift. The pizzas are hearty and delicious, and a desert of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies is hard to deny. Just try.