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
- On-mountain dining
- 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 Resort||Best Option|
|Largest Skiable Area||Aspen Snowmass|
|Best Beginner Terrain||Breckenridge|
|Best Intermediate Terrain||Aspen Snowmass|
|Best Advanced/ Expert Terrain||Aspen Snowmass|
|Best for Park||Breckenridge|
|Least Crowded||Aspen Snowmass|
|Best Accommodation||Aspen Snowmass|
|Cheapest Ticket Prices||Breckenridge|
|Easiest to Travel To||Breckenridge|
|Best Parking||Aspen Snowmass|
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.
|Statistics||Aspen Snowmass Mountains||Breckenridge Mountain|
|Skiable Terrain||Aspen – 675 acres|
Snowmass – 3332 acres
Total – 4007 acres
|Vertical Drop||Aspen – 3267 ft|
Snowmass – 4406 ft
|Base Elevation||Aspen – 7,945 ft|
Snowmass – 8104 ft
|Summit Elevation||Aspen – 11,212 ft|
Snowmass – 12510 ft
|Total Trails||Aspen – 76|
Snowmass – 94
|Green Circle Trails (Beginner)||Aspen – 0%|
Snowmass – 6%
|Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)||Aspen – 48%|
Snowmass – 47%
|Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Advanced)||Aspen – 52%|
Snowmass – 47%
|Longest Run||Aspen – 4.8 km|
Snowmass – 8.5 km
|Number of Ski Lifts||Aspen – 8|
Snowmass – 21
|Lift Operating Hours*||9:00 – 3:30||9:00 – 4:00|
Check out my in-depth comparison between Aspen and Snowmass mountain for more information on their skiable terrain.
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.
|Season||Aspen Snowmass Opened||Breckenridge Opened||Aspen Snowmass Closed||Breckenridge Closed|
|22/23*||24th Nov||11th Nov||16th Apr||30th May|
|21/22||25th Nov||12th Nov||17th Apr||15th May|
|20/21||25th Nov||13th Nov||25th Apr||23rd May|
|19/20||23rd Nov||5th Nov||14th Mar||14th Mar|
|18/19||22nd Nov||7th Nov||21st Apr||27th May|
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).
|Month||Temperature in Aspen||Temperature in Breckenridge||Snowfall in Aspen||Snowfall 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″|
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 more 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
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 Location||Type||Price||Cuisine||Opening Hours|
|Pioneer Crossing||Self-Service||$$||Grill and Latin American||9:00-15:00|
|Broken Spoke Bar||Self-Service||$||Drinks Only||10:00-15:00|
|The Overlook||Table Service||$$-$$$||Grill and Asian||9:00-16:00|
Aspen On-Mountain Dining
|Dining Location||Type||Price||Cuisine||Opening Hours|
|Sundeck||Self/Table Serve||$-$$||American, Mediterranean, Asian||9:00-15:00|
|Ajax Tavern||Table Service||$$-$$$||French, American||11:30-21:00|
Snowmass On-Mountain Dining
|Dining Location||Type||Price||Cuisine||Opening Hours|
|High Alpine||Self-Service||$-$$||Sandwiches, Soups, Salads||10:45-15:00|
|Elk Camp||Self-Service||$-$$$||Pizzas, Paninis, Salads, Rotisserie||10:45-15:00|
|Up 4 Pizza||Self-Service||$-$$||Pizza, Cookies||11:00-16:00|
|Lynn Britt Cabin||Table Service||$$$||Modern American||11:00-14:00|
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.
|Location||Time to Aspen||Time to Breckenridge|
|Denver International Airport||3 hours 45 mins||2 hours|
|Eagle County Regional Airport||1 hours 20 mins||1 hour 30 mins|
|Colorado Springs Airport||3 hours 50 mins||2 hours 20 mins|
|Aspen-Piktin County Airport||15 mins||2 hours 30 mins|
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:
|Location||Drive Time to Aspen Snowmass||Drive Time to Breckenridge|
|Denver||3 hours 15 mins||1 hour 45 mins|
|Boulder||3 hours 30 mins||2 hours|
|Colorado Springs||3 hours 15 mins||2 hours 15 mins|
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 Resort||Drive Time to Aspen||Drive Time to Breckenridge|
|Vail||1 hour 45 mins||55 mins|
|Beaver Creek||1 hour 45 mins||1 hour 10 mins|
|Copper Mountain||2 hours||35 mins|
|Keystone||2 hours 15 mins||35 mins|
|Steamboat||3 hours||2 hours 10 mins|
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 Type||Aspen Snowmass Price||Breckenridge 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)|
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 Lift||Aspen Snowmass||Breckenridge|
|Equipment Rental (Daily)||Aspen Snowmass||Breckenridge|
|Most Premium Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$79||$66|
|Cheapest Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$62||$46|
|Junior Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$46||$37|
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.
Check out this comparison between Vail and Aspen Snowmass ski resorts
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