First Time Visitor’s Guide: Snowmass, Colorado – 5280 – 5280 | The Denver Magazine | Gmx Pharm

In the 45 years since Snowmass Village became an incorporated town, it has made a name for itself primarily as a world-class ski resort. Part of the mountain quartet under the Aspen Snowmass umbrella, Snowmass boasts one of the longest vertical runs in the country (an impressive 4,406 feet from the top of the Cirque Poma lift to the bottom of the Two Creeks lift) and is Colorado’s second-largest resort to Vail. But Snowmass offers much more than just days in the snow – especially in summer and early fall. Here’s what else the ever-growing ski resort, just a 25-minute drive from Aspen, has to offer.

Locations, locations, locations

Snowmass is laid out in the style of multi-part European ski villages and has four distinct key areas. Snowmass Mall (accessed via the Upper Carriage Way) is at the highest elevation but within sight of the newer Snowmass Base Village (built at a cost of $600 million over the past five years). The Sky Cab Gondola (better known as the “Cone” because of its colorful gondola cars) connects these two dining, shopping and hotel centers. Snowmass Center is home to the grocery store, post office, and gas station, while Snowmass Town Park — located about three miles down Brush Creek Road toward Colorado Highway 82 — is home to the Snowmass Rodeo and the trailhead for many singletrack trails.

Outside of the ordinary

Although Snowmass is known for its ski resorts, the summer months in Snowmass offer plenty of outdoor opportunities whether you prefer adventures on two legs, two pedals, four wheels or a big boat. The legendary Maroon Bells are a must-see—they’re the stars of Colorado’s most photographed landscape for a reason—but there are plenty of two-legged activities closer to the village. Hike up the Rim Trail South to reach a spectacular black-and-white marble observation deck with a yin-yang symbol at its center that offers great views of the ski area and local peaks, including the 13,300-foot Mt. Daly. Trail runners should seek out the well-shaded, 3.9-mile Tom Blake Trail for its butter-smooth trail, but should also be mindful of horse traffic. Another option: Sign up for the Ragnar Trail Colorado, a trail running race/festival where teams of eight cover about 120 miles over two days, held annually in June at Snowmass Town Park.

Snowmass Bike Park. Photo by Tamara Susa

If mountain biking is more your thing, head to Sky Mountain Park for thigh-burning climbs, adrenaline-pumping descents — and views of the world’s elite as they fly in and out of their private jets at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, located on the park’s eastern edge. The park is part of the Aspen Snowmass/Roaring Fork Valley IMBA Gold Level Ride Center, an award presented by the International Mountain Biking Association to the world’s top mountain biking destinations. Riders keen on a short but steep climb should start at Snowmass Town Park and travel from Ditchline (beginner level) to Viewline (intermediate) to a major trail junction. From there, either return the way you came, take the Skyline Ridge Trail for a much longer ride, or if you feel confident, try Expert-level Deadline. Downhillers looking for lift-accessible terrain should check out the 25-mile trails at Snowmass Bike Park; Just be prepared to pay for a lift ticket.

Need to secure a bike? Hire a hardtail or full suspension bike, or take care of last-minute mechanical problems with your personal bike with a visit to Snowmass Sports, locally owned and operated for more than 30 years.

Snowmass Rodeo. Photo by Sam Ferguson

For those who want to get high (vertically speaking) or wet without breaking a sweat, reserve your spot on a jeep tour or rafting expedition. Blazing Adventures, located in Snowmass Mall, offers both hiking and biking tours – and even hosts sunset dinner tours in a historic shepherd’s cabin on Snowmass Mountain. The Snowmass Rodeo is another summer festival; Events take place on Wednesday nights and include bronc riding, barrel racing and team roping.

Of course, if you’re visiting between Thanksgiving (the typical ski resort opening day) and around the third week of April, the obvious choice is to tackle the 3,342 acres of skiable terrain that Snowmass has to offer. (Lift ticket prices vary, but average around $200 per day.) Experienced skiers will love lapping the slopes on the fenced-in, walking-accessible Hanging Valley Wall area, but if accessible greens and gentle Blue is more your speed, hit the Elk Camp Gondola and ride the Elk Camp Lift up to wide-open rolling slopes, most notably Gunner’s View. Non-skiers also have plenty of options in the winter, whether trying out the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster or embarking on one of the twice-daily guided snowshoe tours with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. (Buy tickets — $73 for adults, $54 for youth and seniors — at least 30 minutes before meeting the group at the Elk Camp Gondola.)

cultural club

Snowmass isn’t just an outdoor lover’s paradise. Fine art enthusiasts should make time for the Snowmass Art Walk, which features year-round sculptures, murals and other outdoor art installations created by Roaring Fork Valley artists. During the summer months, take a self-guided tour of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center to see creatives at work. Hotter temperatures also mark the return of the Snowmass Free Concert Series every Thursday night at 6:30pm (admission an hour earlier) from early June through late August. A similar event, Music on the Mall, takes place every Friday afternoon during the colder months. Finally, there’s Collective Snowmass, a self-proclaimed gaming lounge and selfie den that hosts everything from chess clubs and bingo to art shows, yoga, and comedy nights. The front lawn is a favorite with children, thanks to garden games and a splash pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.

Apres everything

Most visitors to Snowmass Village are on the go from one adventure to the next, so there are plenty of fast food options. The 7am Fuel Cafe at Snowmass Mall is a great choice for that first caffeine hit of the day and accompanying early morning foods like the California breakfast burrito with egg, cheddar, potatoes and avocado. The Crêpe Shack is the ultimate grab-and-go with its hungry selection of sweet and savory snacks. And JÜS Snowmass (its first location is in Aspen) is known for fresh-squeezed juices that can’t get any healthier, like Ginger Beet Martini (warning: there’s no gin in this drink) and carrot-rich Bugs Bunny. Be sure to enjoy the expansive valley views while your fellow travelers peruse the menu.

If you have time to sit down and stay a while, a bowl of the Stew Pot’s old-fashioned beef stew has been a local favorite since 1972. Venga Venga is the go-to for tableside guac and fresh or fiery margaritas (try the Prickly Pear Blueberry if you like the former, or Spicy Orange if you can handle the latter). Foodies will appreciate the Aurum Snowmass. Hit his happy hour if you’re on a budget; Treat yourself to the $189 52-ounce Tomahawk Rib Eye if you’re not. Top off the day with a sweet treat from Sundae; Locals swear by the salted biscuits and cream.

Put your hat down

With ski-in/ski-out access, a slope-side pool and hot tubs, and a chic, light-filled lobby, Viewline Resort Snowmass offers more than rooms with a view — though they do have them. Save at least one happy hour drink for the Viewline Lobby Bar, where fireplace, bar, and outdoor patio seating all offer clear views of the ski hill. Après with a difference at the hotel’s Lupine Spa, where signature offerings include traditional Abhyanga massage and Indian Sundari head massage and scalp treatment.

Powder day in Snowmass. Photo by Matt Power

The Limelight Hotel Snowmass is another option that can’t go wrong, nestled in Base Village just a short walk from the Elk Camp Gondola. Guests will love the free, hearty breakfast buffet and a post-adventure dip in one of the two massive pool spas (read: the biggest hot tubs you’ve ever seen).

When you do one thing

Catch live music, tasty bites, and great views every summer from late June through early August during Sunset Tuesdays, held atop the Elk Camp Gondola (ascent is free). If you’re not looking for the date-night vibe, treat the kids to tickets ($51) to activities at Lost Forest Base, like the Rugged Ascent Climbing Wall. Ullr Nights (an ode to the Norse god of snow) are the winter equivalent of Sunset Tuesdays, and while less frequent, they feature fire dancers.

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