Aspen Mountain and Snowmass opened for the season in November, and now its time for their neighbors, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk to crank up the lifts, starting tomorrow. At Highlands, you'll find more than 700 acres of terrain, or about 70 percent of the mountain. At Buttermilk, there will be morning treats served at the base area from 9 to 10 a.m., and s'mores and hot cocoa from 1 to 4 p.m.
You can read about every Colorado ski resort in the Edge, our winter sports guide, as we roll it out online. Each description lays out what's new, what the signature experience is, what to splurge on, how to go cheap and, of course, what to drink.
What’s new: Head to Aspen this season to see what $10 million in improvements over the summer looks like at what was already one of Colorado’s poshest winter destinations. For starters: A new high-speed quad High Alpine chairlift and expanded gladed tree skiing at Snowmass, and a glorious $1.1 million remodel of the mid-mountain Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro at Aspen Highlands, where you will most definitely want to take your loved one for fondue, raclette and wine after he or she has survived hiking Horseshoe Bowl all day with you.
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Signature experience: Call 970-923-0560 to sign up for the First Tracks program at Aspen Mountain, which will put you on the mountain at 8:15 a.m. (45 minutes before opening) for fresh powder or fresh corduroy rips. By the time the teeming masses hit the slopes, you’ll be ready for a yoga break: Aspen Mountain hosts free Yoga for Skiers sessions at Sundeck, at the top of the Silver Queen Gondola, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. And if all those sun salutations have you feeling up for a hike, take the free shuttle over to Aspen Highlands. “The quintessential way to enjoy Highlands is by hiking the infamous Highland Bowl, followed by grabbing an après drink at Cloud Nine on the deck,” says Aspen Skiing Company spokeswoman Meaghan Lynch. “This is definitely my typical Sunday.”
Splurge: Try the snowcat dinners at Lynn Brit Cabin (three-course chuckwagon dinner, $85 for adults and $45 for kids) or Cloud Nine ($140 for adults, $95 for kids). Better yet, call 970-920-0720 to book a luxe daytime snowcat adventure with Aspen Powder Tours, which includes a gourmet lunch and a fresh-tracks guarantee.
Ski bum tips: Take advantage of the free parking at Buttermilk, then catch the free shuttle to any of the other mountains on the Aspen/Snowmass lift ticket, and be sure to grab free coffee, sunscreen and Clif bars at the base of each mountain when you get there in the morning. Uphillers are allowed free access on the Tiehack run at Buttermilk all day long. At Snowmass, look for the Sled Mobile Kitchen, a snowcat-towed food truck making its way around the mountain. “The concept is street food on the mountain,” says Aspen Skiing Company executive chef Jim Butchart. “Fun, fresh, unique, and deliciously unexpected.” Dining in town? Step to the bar instead of waiting for a table. “A lot of restaurants around town have what’s called bar menus, which are less expensive dinner menus,” Lynch explains. “All you have to do is pull up a seat at the bar and enjoy a less expensive dinner option paired with your beverage of choice.” Also, would you believe that most of the events in Aspen, including the X Games (January 28-31) and the ongoing Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series, are free for spectators? Be there.
Drink locally: You’ll find Colorado brews and spirits in just about every bar and restaurant in Aspen. Still, be sure to visit Aspen Brewing downtown and ask founder Duncan Class for his favorite from the Seasonally Inspired Series.