Aspen is our favourite American resort. It has everything we look for - well, everything except convenience. Our affection depends heavily on the presence, a little way down the valley, of Aspen Highlands - and on Snowmass, much further down the valley (and covered in a separate chapter). So most days you have to ride a bus; that doesn't worry us - or you, we gather: most people who try it are captivated. Lack of crowds is part of the appeal of America in general, but in Aspen the quiet slopes are particularly impressive. Many rich and some famous guests jet in here, and for connoisseurs of cosmetic surgery the bars of the top hotels can be fascinating places. And the place does seem to be drifting even further upmarket, with ever fewer funky bars and ever more international-brand shops. But, like all other 'glamorous' ski resorts, Aspen is actually filled by ordinary holidaymakers. Don't be put off. Aspen was built on silver-mining - in 1892 it had 12,000 inhabitants; it declined until skiing started here in the late 1930s, when there were only 700 inhabitants. The first lift was opened shortly after World War 2, and Aspen hasn't looked back. Aspen Mountain is right above the town, its access lifts starting yards from the main street. But most of the slopes covered by the ski pass are a bus ride away. Around 3km away are Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. Buttermilk has the Inn at Aspen hotel at the base. Highlands has a limited amount of lodging (including the very smart Ritz Carlton Club). Snowmass, 14km away, is a proper little resort beneath a big mountain that gets its own chapter.
Pros

Wonderfully uncrowded slopes

Attractive, characterful old town, with good restaurants and shops

Excellent Aspen Highlands and Snowmass just down the road

Convenient airport on edge of town

Cons

Slopes split over four separate mountains (including Snowmass), served by efficient, free buses

Expensive, and tending to become more so as cheap places disappear

A bit isolated - no other major resorts within easy day-trip distance

Getting there

  • Aspen airport: In resort
  • Denver airport: 3.5 hours
  • Eagle County airport: 1.5 hours

Good For

Ability
  • Advanced
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
In Resort
  • Off The Slopes
  • Village Charm
On Slope
  • Boarder
  • Fast Lifts
  • No Queues
  • Snow Reliability
  • Terrain Parks

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