SNOWMASS ISN’T JUST another ski resort. Its reputation as a year-round center for all things Colorado is well-earned, whether your preference is two planks, two wheels, or two feet. Far removed from the Front Range gridlock, this village and resort has become the talk of winter fanatics everywhere. Here’s 8 things everyone’s buzzing about.
1. You’ll swear you’ve woken up in Switzerland…for good reason.
European ski resorts are known for their expansive vibe — connecting one town to the next and offering a number of spots to stop, warm up, and have a bite or a brew. Snowmass has the same spaciousness and communal atmosphere, and it’s no accident. Former Olympic ski racer Bill Janss designed the resort to emulate the Euro-flare that launched him into skiing’s international spotlight.
When the lifts turned for the first time in 1967, this was the largest winter resort in the country. These days, the terrain has expanded to include above-timberline steeps and the Hanging Valley’s endless fields of powder. And with a village as charming as the Jungfrau, it’s no surprise Snowmass attracts such an adventurous crowd of athletes and revelers.
2. Snowmass makes living green a breeze.
In Snowmass Village, single-person vehicles are all but unnecessary. Once you arrive, the Village’s bus system takes you everywhere you need to go — to the lifts, the shops, one of 30+ restaurants, whatever. Once the car is parked at the hotel or resort, just step out to the curb and find the closest bus stop. Even better: A full day of skiing requires exactly zero schlepping, thanks to 95% of the resort’s lodging sitting slopeside, which puts the ski runs literally at your doorstep.
The Village itself is completely walkable and offers tons of seating on the mall to enjoy a bite from Pastore’s Taste of Philly while people watching. It’s the same in summer, with all kinds of entertainment options located right in town, along with access to miles and miles of hiking and biking trails (more on that in a second). If you’ve ever wanted to go on a fully human-powered trip, this is it.
3. Everyone can find their sweet spot here.
Skiers and riders of all abilities have a comfort zone at Snowmass. Experts can head to powder steeps, the likes of which aren’t typically found in-bounds. If you’re still looking to keep your feet underneath you on the hill, world-class lessons and beginner terrain aren’t hard to find.
The middle ground isn’t neglected, either — it’s possible to work your way across the entire resort on intermediate slopes. And freestyle riders are able to progress their skills on features big and small. Work your way from the 12-foot beginner’s halfpipe up to the full-size Superpipe, and master simple handrails and tabletops while you’re at it.
4. The après scene is off the hook…
It starts at Elk Camp. This on-mountain hotspot perfects the classic Colorado combo: organic bites and a carefully crafted beverage. The best part is, there’s still that last run down to look forward to.
After the lifts close, the scene moves to the Lynn Britt Cabin. If there were an après term for al dente, this place is it. The scene here is almost too prime, packed with seasoned veterans and beginners enjoying craft beer, champagne, and wines with a laid-back, carefree attitude most towns don’t see until much later in the evening. For late-night revelry, Zane’s Tavern keeps the mall hopping into the wee hours, seven nights a week.
Note: Snowmass celebrates its 50th anniversary this winter. Expect big names to throw big events throughout the season — all you’ve gotta do is show up.
5. …and that spirit keeps going even after the snow melts.
It’s been said that the guitar sounds better when the strumming of perfectly tuned strings reverberates off the mountains. Okay, maybe it’s only been said once (right now), but still.
Either way, Snowmass is the perfect place to put the theory to the test. The town livens up during the warmer months, and festivals take over the town, with fresh food from top local chefs and international headliners rocking into the night. The mall fills with live music as well, and a drink on the patio at Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar provides the perfect seat with a view.
6. Standing atop The Cirque is a true Colorado summit experience.
Bring that scarf and an extra pair of gloves! At 12,510 feet, The Cirque guarantees incredible views of the Maroon Bells, the 14,000-foot Snowmass Mountain, and the Roaring Fork Valley — and this is just the beginning of the reward for those who make it up here.
Don’t burn the battery on your action camera at the top, though. While there is an intermediate route down, the double-black terrain of the Cirque is the stuff of legend. A video of the adventure is the perfect way to earn the respect of your crew and make your friends back home incredibly jealous.
Local tip: For a ski experience you’ll have a hard time replicating anywhere else, cut tracks through the 5.3 continuous miles of powder from the top of Cirque to the bottom of Two Creeks — that is, if your legs can take it! There’s a reason why the resort is known as “Snowmassive.”
7. The kids are kept just as busy as the adults.
We’ve already touched on the famous après scene at Snowmass. In a true demonstration of thorough planning, the resort even takes the kids off your hands while you recap the day on the hill and finalize dinner plans for the evening (or maybe sneak in a power nap!).
The village hosts children’s activities each afternoon. The little ones will have a chance to socialize over s’mores or design a gift for friends back home, not to mention burn off any energy left over after skiing. Even the kiddos tend to agree that it’s almost impossible to be bored here.
8. Trails around here don’t always = skis and boards.
Again, the warmer months don’t mean fewer options — Snowmass is home more than 80 miles of mountain biking trails. Add to that the seemingly endless hiking and biking terrain in the surrounding mountains, and you’ll finally have the perfect reason to clear your schedule and shut off that phone. That’s not even factoring in the incredible road biking on the steep, windy roads and spacious highways of this part of Colorado.
If you’re feeling more like a chilled-out afternoon, a scenic lift ride up the peak delivers those same crazy views without all the pedaling. Sometimes a patio margarita really brings out the color palette in those wildflowers, too — and it’s five o’clock somewhere.