Aspen Snowmass vs Breckenridge: Comparing Ski Resorts


Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge are both located in Colorado near Denver, but the resorts have a very different feel and will suit different types of skiers and snowboarders.

In this article I’ll be comparing:

  • The mountains and skiing experience
  • Ski season dates
  • Snow quality
  • Villages
  • On-mountain dining
  • Locations
  • Accommodation
  • Ski schools
  • Ticket and rental prices

Breckenridge vs Aspen Snowmass Overview

Aspen Snowmass is a much bigger resort with 4 mountains and 5487 acres of skiable terrain compared to Breckenridge which has a one mountain with 2908 acres of skiable terrain. Aspen Snowmass is less crowded, and best for advanced skiers whereas Breckenridge is cheaper, and better for beginners.

Aspect of the ResortBest Option
Largest Skiable AreaAspen Snowmass
Best Beginner TerrainBreckenridge
Best Intermediate TerrainAspen Snowmass
Best Advanced/ Expert TerrainAspen Snowmass
Best for ParkBreckenridge
Least CrowdedAspen Snowmass
Snow QualityBreckenridge
Best AccommodationAspen Snowmass
Cheapest Ticket PricesBreckenridge
Easiest to Travel ToBreckenridge
Best ParkingAspen Snowmass
Aspen Snowmass vs Breckenridge ski resorts
Aspen mountain

Mountains and Skiing Experience

Aspen Snowmass is a huge resort which consists of four mountains totalling a whopping 5487 acres of skiable terrain:

  • Buttermilk: 470 skiable acres
  • Aspen: 675 skiable acres
  • Aspen Highlands: 1010 skiable acres
  • Snowmass: 3332 skiable acres

Breckenridge on the other hand is a smaller resort with a single mountain that offers 2908 acres of skiable terrain.

For beginners, Snowmass mountain offer very little terrain and Aspen and Aspen Highlands don’t offer any. Buttermilk has about 35% of its terrain dedicated to beginners. Breckenridge is the best resort for less experienced skiers as it has more terrain for beginners.

For intermediate level terrain it’s hard to beat Aspen Snowmass. The biggest mountain (Snowmass) has a 47% share of blue square runs, and Aspen has a 48% share.

For advanced skiers looking for a real challenge, both Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge are excellent options. Breck has 55% of runs rated as Black Diamond, however Snowmass has the bigger vertical drop and still has more terrain overall for advanced skiers.

For families and groups of mixed abilities I think Breckenridge is the best mountain as the terrain is more varied. In the Aspen Snowmass resort, the type of terrain is pretty restricted on each mountain.

For park skiing and snowboarding, Breckenridge is the best option as it has 5 terrain parks, compared to Aspen Snowmass which has just 3 combined. It’s also worth noting that Aspen Snowmass is the only resort that offers night skiing, unfortunately Breckenridge doesn’t.

In terms of the crowds, Aspen Snowmass surprisingly doesn’t suffer from them too much. Even during peak season, Aspen Snowmass doesn’t get too crowded. Breckenridge can get quite crowded during the holiday season.

Check out the table below for a comparison of the mountain statistics.

StatisticsAspen Snowmass MountainsBreckenridge Mountain
Skiable TerrainAspen – 675 acres
Snowmass – 3332 acres
Total – 4007 acres
2908 acres
Vertical DropAspen – 3267 ft
Snowmass – 4406 ft
3398 ft
Base ElevationAspen – 7,945 ft
Snowmass – 8104 ft
9600 ft
Summit ElevationAspen – 11,212 ft
Snowmass – 12510 ft
12998 ft
Total TrailsAspen – 76
Snowmass – 94
187
Green Circle Trails (Beginner)Aspen – 0%
Snowmass – 6%
14%
Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)Aspen – 48%
Snowmass – 47%
31%
Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Advanced)Aspen – 52%
Snowmass – 47%
55%
Longest RunAspen – 4.8 km
Snowmass – 8.5 km
5.6 km
Terrain Parks35
Snowboarding AllowedYesYes
Night SkiingYesNo
Number of Ski LiftsAspen – 8
Snowmass – 21
34
Lift Operating Hours*9:00 – 3:309:00 – 4:00
Aspen vs Breckenridge mountain statistics *refers to opening hours for majority of lifts, some may open earlier/ close later

Check out my in-depth comparison between Aspen and Snowmass mountain for more information on their skiable terrain.

Breckenridge ski resort

Ski Season Length

Breckenridge boasts one of the longest ski seasons in North American, spanning from mid-November all the way through to late-May. Aspen Snowmass has a pretty average ski season which starts in late-November and ends in mid-April.

Please see the table below for the previous ski season dates of both resorts.

SeasonAspen Snowmass OpenedBreckenridge OpenedAspen Snowmass ClosedBreckenridge Closed
22/23*24th Nov11th Nov16th Apr30th May
21/2225th Nov12th Nov17th Apr15th May
20/2125th Nov13th Nov25th Apr23rd May
19/2023rd Nov5th Nov14th Mar14th Mar
18/1922nd Nov7th Nov21st Apr27th May
Aspen Snowmass vs Breckenridge ski season dates. 2022/23 dates are predicted

Climate and Snow Quality

There isn’t too much to separate Aspen and Breckenridge in terms of snow quality, and both are very reliable and have good snow-making facilities. The only time I’d say Breckenridge has the edge is at the very start and end of the ski season (November and April).

MonthTemperature in AspenTemperature in BreckenridgeSnowfall in AspenSnowfall in Breckenridge
November-6.0°C (21.2°F)-7.9°C (17.7°F)22″30″
December-10.4°C (13.4°F)-12.9°C (9°F)65″60″
January-9.6°C (14.7°F)-12.1°C (10.1°F)53″57″
February-8.4°C (16.8°F)-11.1°C (12°F)60″57″
March-4.3°C (24.3°F)-7.0°C (19.3°F)66″60″
April-0.6°C (31°F)-3.2°C (26.3°F)32″36″
Average data from en.climate-data.org and onthesnow.com

Village and Other Activities

If you go to Aspen Snowmass, you have the choice of basing yourself at either location. Aspen is a lively town with great nightlife, more shops, activities restaurants so it is usually the best choice for those looking for plenty to do. Snowmass on the other hand is much quieter and less charismatic.

On the other hand, Breckenridge doesn’t have a village but is instead located in Breckenridge town (roughly a 15 minute drive away) which has plenty of history and charm.

Breck has loads of restaurants, activities, nightlife and shopping to keep you busy but it doesn’t have that “resort feel”. You’ll still get plenty of restaurants at the Breckenridge mountain base too.

It’s very much a personal preference as to which you’ll prefer to stay at. If you like everything to be in one place and feel more enclosed and accessible then you’ll prefer Aspen. However, if you want to explore a bit and stay in a local town with loads of history then you’ll love Breck.

Here are some YouTube video tours of each location so you can get a feel for them.

Aspen Snowmass Village Tour

Breckenridge Tour

On-Mountain Dining

There’s not really much to separate the on-mountain dining on Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge, with both resorts offering plenty of choice. Here is a list of the on-mountain dining options available at each location. You’ll also be able to find plenty of restaurants and cafes at the bases as well.

Breckenridge On-Mountain Dining

Dining LocationTypePriceCuisineOpening Hours
Pioneer CrossingSelf-Service$$Grill and Latin American9:00-15:00
Broken Spoke BarSelf-Service$Drinks Only10:00-15:00
Vista HausSelf-Service$-$$BBQ9:00-15:00
TenMileSelf-Service$-$$American9:00-15:00
The OverlookTable Service$$-$$$Grill and Asian9:00-16:00
On-mountain dining options on Breckenridge

Aspen On-Mountain Dining

Dining LocationTypePriceCuisineOpening Hours
Bonnie’sSelf/Table Serve$-$$American9:00-15:00
SundeckSelf/Table Serve$-$$American, Mediterranean, Asian9:00-15:00
Ajax TavernTable Service$$-$$$French, American11:30-21:00
On-mountain dining options on Aspen

Snowmass On-Mountain Dining

Dining LocationTypePriceCuisineOpening Hours
High AlpineSelf-Service$-$$Sandwiches, Soups, Salads10:45-15:00
Elk CampSelf-Service$-$$$Pizzas, Paninis, Salads, Rotisserie10:45-15:00
Up 4 PizzaSelf-Service$-$$Pizza, Cookies11:00-16:00
Sam’sTable-Service$$-$$$Italian11:00-14:30
Lynn Britt CabinTable Service$$$Modern American11:00-14:00
On-mountain dining options on Snowmass
Snowmass village

Location and Travel Times

To make things clearer, I’ve split this section into the following three categories:

  • Travelling by plane
  • Driving and parking
  • Proximity to other resorts

Traveling by Plane

The closest airport to the Aspen Snowmass resort is Aspen-Piktin County Airport (ASE), however the nearest major airport is Denver International Airport (DEN). Aspen Snowmass is approximately a 3.5-4 hour drive from Denver International Airport.

The closest airport to Breckenridge is Eagle/Vail Regional Airport, however the nearest major airport is Denver International Airport which is a 2 hour drive away.

LocationTime to AspenTime to Breckenridge
Denver International Airport3 hours 45 mins2 hours
Eagle County Regional Airport1 hours 20 mins1 hour 30 mins
Colorado Springs Airport3 hours 50 mins2 hours 20 mins
Aspen-Piktin County Airport15 mins2 hours 30 mins
Airport transfer times to Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge resorts

Driving and Parking

There is free all-day parking available in Breck and Aspen Snowmass, however it is more limited in Breckenridge resort. Overnight parking costs $30/ night in Aspen Snowmass and between $5-$10 in Breckenridge.

The car parks in both resorts can get busy, but Aspen Snowmass does have an app so you can see where is free.

For more information regarding parking, please see the following links:

LocationDrive Time to Aspen SnowmassDrive Time to Breckenridge
Denver3 hours 15 mins1 hour 45 mins
Boulder3 hours 30 mins2 hours
Colorado Springs3 hours 15 mins2 hours 15 mins
Drive time from key locations to Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge ski resorts

Proximity to Other Resorts

In the Aspen Snowmass area you’ll also have the opportunity to ski two other areas within the resort: Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. If you plan to visit these areas then being based at Aspen is the better option as Snowmass is a bit further away from both of them.

  • Aspen is a 7 minute drive from Aspen Highlands Ski Resort whereas Snowmass is a 25 minute drive away.
  • Aspen is a 7 minute drive from Buttermilk Ski Resort whereas Snowmass is an 18 minute drive away.

In the immediate vicinity of Breckenridge, you’ll only have access to the single mountain.

However, Breckenridge is closer to most other major ski resorts in Colorado. It is just a 35 minute drive away from Copper Mountain and Keystone, and less than an hour away from Vail so it’s the best option if you plan on visiting multiple resorts during your stay.

Ski ResortDrive Time to AspenDrive Time to Breckenridge
Vail1 hour 45 mins55 mins
Beaver Creek1 hour 45 mins1 hour 10 mins
Copper Mountain2 hours35 mins
Keystone2 hours 15 mins35 mins
Steamboat3 hours2 hours 10 mins
Drive time from popular ski resorts to Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge
Breckenridge town

Accommodation

Many visitors prefer to stay in Aspen rather than Snowmass because it has more dining, shopping and nightlife in comparison to Snowmass. It’s typical to ski at either mountain during the day and then spend the evening in Aspen as there is more going on.

Accommodation in January for 2 adults costs between $275-$1000 per night in Snowmass and $250-$1800 per night in Aspen.

In Breckenridge you’ll probably be based in the local town which is about a 15-minute drive away from the mountain base. It’s a bit more of a pain to get to the mountain compared to Aspen Snowmass, however it is usually cheaper and costs approximately $200-$750 per night. Alternatively, you can stay in a ski-in-ski-out hotel/ lodge, although these are fairly expensive.

Ski School Prices

Both Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge have great ski schools which offer a range of group and private lessons for all ages and abilities. The group lessons are cheaper on average in Breckenridge, whereas the private lessons are cheaper in Aspen Snowmass.

Please see the table below for more information.

Lesson TypeAspen Snowmass PriceBreckenridge Price
Child Group (Half Day)$242$230
Child Group (Full Day)$269$285-$360
Adult Group (Half Day)N/A$160
Adult Group (Full Day)$269$195-$210
Private All Ages (Half Day)$753 (1-5 people)$805 (1-6 people)
Private All Ages (Full Day)$973 (1-5 people)$1065 (1-6 people)
Aspen Snowmass vs Breckenridge ski school prices

Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in US dollars.

Ticket and Equipment Rental Prices

Lift tickets are significantly cheaper at Breckenridge for adults and children, but slightly cheaper for seniors at Aspen Snowmass.

Example Cost for 2 x adults and 2 x children (weekend)
Aspen Snowmass = $756
Breckenridge = $558

Ski and snowboard equipment rentals are cheaper at Breckenridge compared to Aspen.

Please see the tables below for more information.

Ticket Price Day LiftAspen SnowmassBreckenridge
Adult (Weekday)$204$169
Child (Weekday)$144$110
Senior (Weekday)$144$159
Adult (Weekend)$219$169
Child (Weekend)$159$110
Senior (Weekend)$159$159
Comparison of the day lift ticket prices between Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge ski resorts
Equipment Rental (Daily)Aspen SnowmassBreckenridge
Most Premium Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)$79$66
Cheapest Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)$62$46
Junior Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)$46$37
Helmet$13$11
Aspen Snowmass vs Breckenridge ski equipment rental price comparison

Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on daily rates when buying in-advance online (better value for money offers are available when booking for multiple days). Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in US dollars.

Which Resort is Best?

It really depends what vibe you’re looking for.

If you want a fully-fledged resort with a huge amount of skiable terrain then Aspen Snowmass is the best choice. It has better terrain for both intermediates and experts, amazing luxury accommodation and a huge village with plenty to do.

On the other hand, if you prefer to get away from the bustling resort atmosphere and stay a more historical and charming town then you’ll love Breckenridge. It’s also better for beginners and groups of mixed abilities, cheaper and closer to the nearest major airport.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Rosie

I have been a keen skier for a number of years, skiing in different locations around the world, and have a real passion for snow sports. My favourite ski resorts are Lake Louise in Canada and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in Austria.

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