Located in the Rocky Mountains, Snowmass is one of Colorado’s best yet most underrated skiing and snowboarding destinations. The things to do in Snowmass extend beyond the slopes, though.
When you’re not hitting the slopes of the Aspen Snowmass ski resort, try out all the awesome eateries and hang out around the vibrant village. And, although it’s primarily a winter destination, there’s so much to do in Snowmass during the summer, too.
As peak season — winter — approaches, here are my picks for the best things to do in Snowmass, as well as, a few tips to guide you in planning your trip.
Getting to Snowmass Village & Map
The closest airport to Snowmass Village is Aspen Airport (ASE), just a 15-minute drive away. It’s also known as the Pitkin County Airport.
Check if your accommodation offers pickup service (the hotel I stayed at, The Viceroy, does). If not, you can catch a cab or one of the local, free RFTA buses that depart from the airport regularly.
Aspen Airport receives direct flights from eight cities: Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Van Nuys. This is great for a county airport but, being a smaller airport, it’s very prone to closing due to inclement weather.
In fact, they shut down flights on our way out; I had to take an Uber (yes, super long ride!) to Denver to make it back to work on time. I was, however, still able to make my connecting flight since there are plenty of flights that go from Denver to Aspen.
If you’re worried about this, you could choose to instead drive or get a shuttle from Eagle County Airport (1.5 hours away) or Denver International Airport (3.5 to 4 hours away).
Snowmass Village’s two main areas are Snowmass Base Village and Snowmass Mall. You can get to and from each with the Sky Cab gondola. You can also get around the whole village with the free shuttle bus system.
To get from Snowmass to the other three mountains of Aspen Snowmass (Aspen, Highlands, and Buttermilk) there’s the free RFTA bus that departs from the mall many times per day.
Note that, even though all four mountains are covered on a single lift ticket, they’re not actually connected by lift, just by shuttle.
Beginner’s Magic Ski Class + Essential Skiing Tips
If you’re a skiing novice or even a total beginner, the Beginner’s Magic lessons offered at Aspen Snowmass will have you feeling confident as you hit the slopes.
Aspen Snowmass offers Beginner’s Magic clinics this year on November 24, November 25, and December 11, 2023. Private lessons are a must if you’ve never been skiing before!
Aspen Snowmass also offers adaptive skiing opportunities for persons with physical and cognitive disabilities through Challenge Aspen. There is also an autism-specific initiative, Ascendigo, that provides skiing and snowboarding lessons for both kids and adults.
As mentioned, the Aspen Snowmass ski resort consists of four mountains: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. The one closest to Snowmass Village is, of course, Snowmass.
Snowmass’ skiing season this year starts on November 23, 2023 and ends on April 14, 2024. It varies slightly year by year, but typically starts in late November and ends in mid-April.
The slopes are categorized by difficulty level, which is signified by color. Green slopes are the easiest, blue slopes are intermediate, and black slopes are advanced.
Make sure to check the slopes and where they lead to very carefully. I had to learn this lesson the hard way: I got off at the wrong spot on the mountain and there was no lift to go back down. I had two options: attempt a blue slope beyond my level or walk down the side of the mountain.
On the bright side, there were places for me to stop and rest along the way, such as the Elk Camp restaurant. Part of knowing the slopes is knowing where you take a pit stop.
Try Snow Tubing and Dog Sledding
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to experience the slopes of Snowmass. Try something a bit different by going tubing and/or dog sledding!
You can try snow tubing on the Snowmass Tubing Hill near the top of the Elk Camp gondola. From there, you’ll find several lanes open for tubing for both kids and adults. On Ullr Nights — seasonal nighttime parties at Snowmass — you can tube at nighttime, too.
Krabloonik is Snowmass’ local dog sled tour operator. They offer 45 to 60-minute dog sled tours in the morning, afternoon, and at twilight. It’s no doubt an unforgettable experience but it’s very pricey; Krabloonik’s current rates are $600 for adults and $300 for kids.
Eat at Steakhouse No. 316 in Downtown Aspen
Steakhouse No. 316 was my favorite restaurant for a great steak. There are so many prime cuts to choose from, as well as lamb and a variety of seafood. The wine list is extensive, too. Choose your favorite cut, but I recommend getting the jumbo crab cakes as an appetizer.
This boutique steakhouse is located in a renovated Victorian home and has a classy, nocturnal atmosphere that I love. If you visit in summer, definitely get a table on the patio to enjoy the mountain breeze.
Hang Out at The Collective
Located in Snowmass Base Village, The Collective is a community hub with activities, games, eateries, and shopping opportunities.
The highlight of The Collective is the ice rink that’s open daily. Aside from that, there’s something going on pretty much every day. There’s live music, stand-up comedy, bingo, and chess nights, plus even art shows and educational talks. There’s also a game lounge with pool, foosball, board games, and more.
Warm Up at The Stew Pot
I don’t know about you, but skiing makes me crave comfort food, and there’s no better place in town for that than The Stew Pot.
This homey restaurant serves classic American stews, soups, and sandwiches. Have a big bowl of beef stew or a hot pastrami sandwich, then top it off with a slice of homemade apple pie. I won’t lie, it’s pretty pricey for what it offers, but it’s one of the best-known restaurants in town.
Learn a New Art or Craft at Anderson Ranch Art Center
Regular readers of the blog will know that I love art galleries and art centers — I look for them in every place I visit! Snowmass Village is home to the Anderson Ranch Arts Center
The Anderson Ranch Arts Center has an art gallery as well as an outdoor sculpture collection. In addition, the center offers tons of workshops throughout the year. You can learn painting, ceramics, photography, printmaking, woodworking, and more.
If you’re an artist yourself, Anderson Ranch Art Center has studio sessions and is even open to residencies during the winter and spring.
Where to Stay in Snowmass: The Viceroy Snowmass Hotel
I haven’t stayed at Viewline Resort Snowmass but my friends have (when it was known as The Westin, before being renovated and rebranded), and they generally recommend it.
Viewline is right in Snowmass Village and more convenient to the slopes than The Viceroy. However, the accommodations, while good, are not as spectacular. There’s a restaurant, a bar, and a spa.
Things to Do in Snowmass in the Summer
You might be surprised that there are plenty of things to do in Snowmass in the summer, too. Some activities pause for a month or two during spring and fall, and the summer season typically runs from June to September.
Outside of skiing season, bike riding is king in Snowmass. Snowmass Bike Park is the hub for everything mountain biking. It is served by two lifts, Chairlift and Elk Camp Gondola, until dusk. There are bike rentals, as well as clinics and private lessons.
Outside of Snowmass Village, the whole Roaring Fork Valley around Snowmass and the surrounding communities is ripe with great biking opportunities. If you’re an expert biker, you might want to try the 80-mile Rio Grande Trail between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
Snowmass Mountain is great for hiking but Maroon Bells, south of Snowmass, often take the spotlight. These are twin mountains that reach elevations of 14,000 feet.
Maroon Bells are most spectacular in the heart of summer when the flowers that blanket the mountains bloom. There are a wide variety of trail difficulties represented on these mountains.
Snowmass Free Concert Series
One of the highlights of summer in Snowmass is the Summer Free Concert Series. The concerts are held every Thursday at 5:30 pm.
The location is Fanny Hill, an outdoor venue with amazing mountain vistas. It’s also right by Snowmass Mall, so make it a plan to chill at the mall for an afternoon then get some takeout from one of the restaurants and enjoy the show!
Whitewater rafting is one of the most fun ways to enjoy the warm weather and stunning landscapes around Snowmass in the summer.
Roaring Fork River and Arkansas River are the two most popular choices for rafting, with your options ranging from a serene float to a journey on Class 4 rapids.
If you’re a fly fishing enthusiast, you’ll be in good company in Snowmass during the summer. Brown, brook, and rainbow trout are abundant in the Roaring Fork River and Fryingpan River — both big fly fishing destinations.
Snowmass Balloon Festival
Though not exactly in the summer, the Snowmass Balloon Festival in September is one of the top non-winter events of the year.
For three mornings in late September, the sky comes alive with colorful hot air balloons. You can find a comfortable spot to watch the balloons or make them the backdrop to a whimsical bike ride or hike.
Though skiing is the highlight of any Snowmass trip, there are so many awesome things to do in Snowmass besides that, including in the summer months.
Still, my favorite activity was class time, learning to ski and snowboard. The instructors were very attentive, and any fear I had melted away.
Beyond the things to do, Snowmass is simply gorgeous; I’m a sucker for mountain views, and the ones at Snowmass were exquisite. My trip was also enhanced by having a fantastic hotel as my home base — The Viceroy.