Over twenty five feet of snow annually, 90 trails, 23 lifts and the most vertical feet of terrain in the U.S. are just four of the reasons skiers and snowboarders from around the globe flock to (and fall in love with) Snowmass. Here are 22 more reasons:
1. No Lift Lines. Seriously.
When I heard of this, “no lift lines” concept, I thought it simply meant – no long lift lines. Never, ever in my wildest did I think it meant – NO lines.
As in – as long as it takes you to get yourself on the chairlift – that is the length of time you have to “wait”.
Besides being incomprehensibly fantastic, this also means:
- No jockeying for a table at lunch
- No jockeying for a table at après
- No jockeying for a table ever
- More space on the lifts
- Having the gondola to yourself
- Totally empty runs (even on a Saturday afternoon)
- Less accidents
- Less chance that you are going to spend your vacation at the hospital or going down the mountain in a toboggan (Trust me, I have done it. Not a total riot.)
- Less time ski patrol needs to stop the lines because of accidents
- People in a WAY better mood – with one of those people being you
Put it all together and what does it equal? Utter. Freaking. Bliss.
2. Amazing Accommodations a 126 Seconds Walk to the Chairlift…Walking Slowly
Arriving at some lift lines can involve strategy, time and patience. It can include traffic and buses, parking and long walks with armfuls of skiing and snowboarding equipment. BUT when you stay at the Crestwood Condos in Snowmass you walk out your front door and within 126 seconds you are at the lift. (I timed it.)
And at the end of your day, when you have completely you 126 second walk home, you are faced with a host of options including resting your legs in front of the fireplace, soaking in their glorious hot tub (one of my two most favorite in all of Colorado), drinking wine and having dinner in your super cush and cozy condo, or walking another 126 seconds to a host of dining and drinking options available in Snowmass Village.
3. More Ski Resorts in a Few Square Miles than Most U.S. States Have in Total
With over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain (53% intermediate, 17% more challenging and 30% the stuff I steer way clear of to give the experts their space) – there is really no reason to leave Snowmass.
However, if you have the hankering for something new or different, there are three other mountain options available within a few miles.
Want to challenge yourself? Go to Aspen Mountain – there is not a single green run to be had.
Looking for a great beginner mountain? Hit Buttermilk.
Want to hang with locals and do some hiking to inbounds off piste skiing and riding? Aspen Highlands is your place.
4. Backcountry Fun without the Backcountry Fear
A 10-minute hike from the top of the Elk Camp chairlift brings you to:
Long Shot – a blue run, the longest in Snowmass, and three black runs – all of which come with the backcountry fun, but active avalanche control negates the need for the backcountry fear.
5. Absurdly Cute Nearby Towns
I cringe when I find myself in a charming place and the first thing that pops in my mind is, “This looks just like a movie.” With that said, I do have to say – Carbondale and Basalt – both on the way to and from Snowmass – “Look just like a movie.”
Their carefully architected streets, charming storefronts and colorful shops, cafes and watering holes are true must-sees and dos.
Looking for a bite to eat? Try Skip’s Pour House in Carbondale. It comes complete with local banter, good bar food and pride bursting out of every employee in the place. Basalt has numerous cozy restaurant and café options as well.
6. Margaritas Worth Selling a Family Member For
In gathering the where-to-go scoop from the locals while going up and down the chairlift one place consistently came up: Venga Venga. Located in the Snowmass Mall, Venga Venga is a slopeside cantina and tequila bar. (Personally, I think a Congressional Library of Tequila – better describes it.) When you go (and you must) get the Cadillac Margarita.
A DJ was spinning on their ginormous terrace on the weekend while we were there.
7. Cheap Wings, Fabulous Bar Food, Great Local Scene
Number of times we went to Zane’s? 2.
Number of times we scurried out like 9 year olds in the first three minutes? 1.
This is what happened – we met this wonderful local on the chairlift, who we will call Cookie Girl (explanation coming below). Cookie Girl was a gem, as all of the locals we met were. She told us to go to Zane’s for cheap wings.
When we arrived our waitress handed us the menu and at the top of it, it read something to the effect of what Philly Cheese Steaks we can order.
Now: in trying to locate Zane’s we saw something about a Philly Cheese Steak restaurant on the map. When we see this on the menu we instantly think we are at the wrong place.
We stare at each other and then at the menu and then – like shamed 3rd graders – put the menus back on the table, don’t take the time to put on our coats, hats or scarves –– and sheepishly scurry out.
Minutes later, when we see the actual Philly Cheese Steak place, we realize we were at the right place initially – but as per shamed third grader style – we are now too embarrassed to go back in.
The next night, hoping our prior night’s waitress had the day off, we return. Good thing we did – they have great bacon cheeseburgers and yes – great Phillies. (I went for the veggie option.)
8. Slopeside Vietnamese Happy Hour
Snowmass has all bases covered.
Fun and friendly locals? Yep.
Great and diverse food options? Check.
Terrain for everyone? Totally.
Amazing scenery? Check. Check.
Fabulous ski in/ski out accommodations? CHECK.
Beer from small Southeast Asian countries? Duh.
David, in his travels to Vietnam tells me Bia Hoi, the name of the Asian inspired locale at the bottom of the Snowmass gondola, is the name for cheap draft beer in Vietnam. If you are looking for the Snowmass take on this Vietnamese tradition go check out Bia Hoi.
9. Slopeside Beer from Colorado
New Belgium Ranger Station, located in the Snowmass Mall features, you guessed it, New Belguim brews and some great food to go with it. Ranger Station’s atmosphere was described as “mountain chic” in a 2013 article. But I think I would describe it more as more “mountain modern with the air of a highly desirable cruiser bike hanging from the ceiling.”
David tried the four beer sampler. The Baked Bavarian Pretzel Rolls (comes with an assortment of different sweet and savory dips) are a must.
10. Better than You Might Expect On-Mountain Cappuccino + Billion Dollar Views
The history of Sam’s Smokehouse started when a guy – Sam – purchased its land and 160 acres around it for $1000. (Just makes you want to kick yourself, doesn’t it?) Today, it is a gorgeous new on-mountain restaurant with a small café offering some on-the-go options, good cappuccino and a sit down restaurant to enjoy lunch and the surrounding breathtaking views.
11. The 2nd Biggest Ski Mountain in Colorado + The Maroon Bells
It never occurred to us that amidst all the other fabulousness Snowmass offers, they would also offer views to Colorado’s most iconic mountains – the Maroon Bells. I was told by the friendly Snowmass information folks that the views from Snowmass were not the quintessential shot that has been photographed countless times, but personally, I think it is pretty damn close.
Go see them for yourself on a sunny, clear day at the top of the Elk Camp chair lift.
12. Free Mountain Goodies
Snowmass surprises you at every corner. In the mornings the friendly mountain folks gather around the top of select chair lifts and hand out hot cider, sample sized Cliff bars and coffee (coffee!).
13. Family Owned On-Mountain Restaurant
As ski resorts around the world become more and more corporate, it was a delight to find Gwyn’s, a family owned restaurant located on Snowmass Mountain a small jaunt to the right of the Alpine Springs lift.
Gwyn’s has retained the feel of a vintage ski lodge complete with undeniable understanding of the family love and pride that is sunk into keeping the place charming and the food delicious is undeniable.
David, wants everyone to order the bacon cheeseburger. I highly recommend treating yourself to any of their delicious desserts.
Want to warm up? Go downstairs and sit by the windows. The heaters kick out some serious warmth.
14. Insanely Excellent Meatball Sandwich
Let me preface this by saying – I never eat meatball sandwiches. However, for reasons unknown to me my visit to Slice, an Italian restaurant, in Snowmass Village inspired me to do so – and I have been grateful ever since.
15. Best on Mountain Sweets. Ever.
Cookie Girl, the aforementioned woman who suggested we hit Zane’s for wings. Also, informed us that, “The cookies at Up 4 Pizza are really my best local advice for you.”
Her theory was that because of the elevation, they did not cook all the way through which resulted in ooey gooey awesomeness.
From appearance alone – they do not look quite live up to her five star review – but DO NOT let the cookie looks fool you. Their ever-so-thin crust on the top and indescribably chocolately fantasticness within is worth the price of the lift ticket alone.
16. Great Cappuccino
The best (and least expensive) cappuccino we found in Snowmass is at Fuel – in the Snowmass Mall – smartly located right at the area of the passenger drop-off. Croissants, baked goods and other eats are available. The cheese and spinach stuffed croissant will not disappoint.
The Stew Pot, Snowmass’ oldest restaurant (around since 1972) offers exactly what you want on a winter afternoon or evening – a hearty, warm and reasonably priced meal. Although the name may make you think otherwise, they have a large selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. Of course, trying their stew is practically a must. It is all served up in a relatively small space in the Snowmass Mall (upstairs seating is available) amongst décor which seemingly hasn’t (and hopefully won’t) changed in years.
18. Taxi’s in the Form of a Vintage-ish Gondola
How do you get from Snowmass Village to the Snowmass Mall? Via the free vintage gondola – of course.
19. There is a Place for Artists to Live
For over 50 years, the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a very short drive from Snowmass Village has offered visual artists both summer workshop programs and residency opportunities. It also offers numerous community events that bring out the masses. They welcome visitors to see what it all about, learn more: https://www.andersonranch.org/.
20. Hang with the Ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson
Woody Creek, an area just outside of Snowmass, was and is the residence of many celebrities – most famously Hunter S. Thompson. The watering hole, The Woody Creek Tavern, was a place Thompson wrote about and held court regularly. Don’t let its celebrity status fool you – the food is worth going for.
21. What We Didn’t Eat
If time allowed, we would have tried it all. In meeting local real estate agent, Kristin Balko on the gondola, she recommended Il Poggio in Snowmass for Italian. In Aspen Kristin recommends Cache Cache for French and Mediterranean inspired cuisine, Matsushisa, run by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s of the renowned Nobu restaurants, or The White House Tavern for “premium sandwiches…with distinctive beers, wines and cocktails.” – also in Aspen.
22. Amazing Vibrant International Feel at a World-Class Resort
“It is a long commute, but it is worth it.” – A Brazilian we met on why he and his family come to Snowmass every year.
Hours after meeting him, we met Australians, Argentineans and a gentleman from the Philippines – who told us of the many folks who visit Snowmass from Russia.
Most chairlift rides, lunches, coffee breaks or après experiences involved overhearing non-U.S. English accents or new languages all together.
All of it combined made it quickly and abundantly clear that David and I are certainly not first in discovering all that Snowmass has to offer – we are just really glad we were not the last.