Aspen Snowmass and Telluride are two super popular ski resorts in Colorado. In this article I’ll directly compare their skiable terrain, villages, value for money, snow quality, accessibility and much more so you can decide which is the best option for you to visit.
Aspen Snowmass vs Telluride
Aspen Snowmass is much larger ski resort with four mountains compared to Telluride which has a single moderately-sized mountain. Aspen Snowmass is busier and better for more advanced skiers and snowboarders whereas Telluride is cheaper, quieter and has more beginner-friendly terrain.
|Aspect of the Resort||Best Option|
|Intermediate Trails||Aspen Snowmass|
|Advanced/ Expert Terrain||Aspen Snowmass|
|Ski Season Length||Aspen Snowmass|
|Snow Quality||Aspen Snowmass|
|Best Lift Ticket Prices||Telluride|
|Best Value Accommodation||Telluride|
|Easiest to Travel To||Aspen Snowmass|
Ski Map and Pistes
Aspen Snowmass resort consists of four mountains: Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, with the most popular being the first two.
Aspen mountain is relatively small with 675 acres of skiable terrain, whereas Snowmass is huge with 3332 acres of skiable terrain. Combined, Aspen Snowmass is a bigger resort compared to Telluride which has 2000 acres of skiable terrain.
Snowmass mountain has a larger vertical drop compared to Telluride, but Aspen mountain has the smallest vertical drop. Aspen has 76 trails, Snowmass has 94 and Telluride mountain has 127 trails. Telluride has the longest run of all the three mountains.
For beginners, Telluride is a better option compared to Aspen Snowmass. Telluride has the most green circle runs and prioritises beginner terrain more than the other resort. Aspen has 0 green circle terrain and only 6% of trails are green circle runs on Snowmass, compared to 23% on Telluride.
For intermediate-level skiers looking for blue square runs, there isn’t a huge difference between Aspen Snowmass and Telluride, however Aspen Snowmass does have the edge with roughly 50% of trails being rated as blue squares.
For skiers and snowboarders looking for the most challenging terrain, Aspen Snowmass is the best option compared to Telluride. The mountains attracts more advanced riders and they both have a greater amount of terrain dedicated to experts compared to Telluride.
Telluride is typically the quietest resort out of the two, but both resorts will get busy on the weekends and during the holiday season.
Both resorts allow snowboarders and have 3 terrain parks.
Check out the table below for a comparison of the mountain statistics.
|Statistics||Aspen Snowmass Mountains||Telluride 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
Aspen Snowmass usually opens a week earlier and closes two weeks later compared to Telluride, meaning it has a significantly longer ski season. Aspen Snowmass’ ski season typically spans from late November to mid April, whereas Telluride’s ski season often starts in late November and ends in early April.
Please see the table below for the previous ski season dates of both resorts.
|Season||Aspen Snowmass Opened||Telluride Opened||Aspen Snowmass Closed||Telluride Closed|
|22/23*||24th Nov||24th Nov||16th Apr||2nd Apr|
|21/22||25th Nov||3rd Dec||17th Apr||3rd Apr|
|20/21||25th Nov||26th Nov||25th Apr||4th Apr|
|19/20||23rd Nov||28th Nov||14th Mar||14th Mar|
|18/19||22nd Nov||22nd Nov||21st Apr||7th Apr|
Climate and Snow Quality
At the start of the ski season and throughout January and February, the snow quality in Telluride and Aspen Snowmass is pretty comparable.
In spring, the snow quality is better in Aspen Snowmass compared to Telluride. This is because Aspen Snowmass has significantly more snowfall in March and April compared to Telluride. Snowmass typically has slightly better snow compared to Aspen out of the two mountains in the resort.
Additionally 60% of the Snowmass terrain is north-facing which means the snow is better preserved towards the latter stages of the ski season. However, Telluride has 50% of its terrain facing north so the snow is still decent in March but the lack of snowfall in April means it usually closes at the start of the month.
The temperature in Aspen Snowmass and Telluride is very similar, with Telluride being marginally colder throughout February to April.
|Month||Temperature in Aspen||Temperature in Telluride||Snowfall in Aspen||Snowfall in Telluride|
|November||-6.0°C (21.2°F)||-6°C (21.2°F)||22″||17″|
|December||-10.4°C (13.4°F)||-10.3°C (13.5°F)||65″||52″|
|January||-9.6°C (14.7°F)||-9.7°C (14.5°F)||53″||45″|
|February||-8.4°C (16.8°F)||-9.3°C (15.2°F)||60″||53″|
|March||-4.3°C (24.3°F)||-6.1°C (21.1°F)||66″||50″|
|April||-0.6°C (31°F)||-2.9°C (26.8°F)||32″||5″|
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 activities and more 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.
Telluride village offers a very relaxed atmosphere and is really picturesque. Many skiers looking to get away from bustling villages will enjoy Telluride and its rustic charm. However, if you want a big village with a lot of shops and restaurants then you’ll probably prefer Aspen.
In terms of the activities such as spas, dog sled tours, helicopter skiing, snowmobile tours etc. you’ll find pretty much the same experiences at both resorts.
Here are some YouTube video tours of each village so you can get a feel for them.
Aspen Snowmass Village Tour
Telluride Village Tour
Both Aspen Snowmass and Telluride have an extensive range of on-mountain dining venues to suit different budgets and requirements. The restaurants are open into the evening on Telluride and Aspen, but close mid-afternoon on Snowmass.
Here are some tables outlining the key features of each on-mountain dining option in Telluride, Aspen and Snowmass.
Telluride On-Mountain Dining
|High Camp Warming Hut||Self-Service||Casual American||$-$$||8:30-16:30|
|Big Billie’s||Self-Service||Classic American||$-$$||5:00-22:00|
|Gorrono Ranch||Self-Service||Classic American||$-$$||11:00-15:00/22:00*|
|Bon Vivant||Table Service||French||$$$||11:00-4:30|
|Alpino Vino||Tale Service||European||$$$||Unconfirmed|
Aspen On-Mountain Dining
|Dining Location||Type||Price||Cuisine||Opening Hours|
|Sundeck||Self/Table Serve||$-$$||American, Mediterranean, Asian||9:00-15:00|
|Ajax Tavern||Table Service||$$-$$$||French, American||11:30-21:00|
|Element 47||Table Service||$$$||Fine Dining||7:00-10:30 and |
Snowmass On-Mountain Dining
|Dining Location||Type||Price||Cuisine||Opening Hours|
|High Alpine||Self-Service||$-$$||Sandwiches, Soups, Salads||10:45-15:00|
|Two Creeks Cafe||Self-Service||$-$$||Sandwiches, Soups, Salads||8:30-16:00|
|Elk Camp||Self-Service||$-$$$||Pizzas, Paninis, Salads, Rotisserie||10:45-15:00|
|Up 4 Pizza||Self-Service||$-$$||Pizza, Cookies||11:00-16:00|
|Ullrhof||Table Service||$-$$||Burgers, Hot Dogs, Soups, Salads||10:45-15:00|
|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 hour drive from Denver International Airport.
Excluding Telluride Regional Airport which is very small, the closest airport to Telluride is Montrose Regional Airport which is a 1.5 hour drive away.
The nearest major airport to Telluride is Denver International Airport which is a 7 hour drive so a connecting flight to Montrose which takes 1 hour is the best option.
Hence, if you are travelling internationally then Aspen Snowmass is much more accessible compared to Telluride.
Driving and Parking
There is free all-day parking available in Telluride and Aspen Snowmass. Overnight parking costs $25/ night in Telluride and $30/ night in Aspen Snowmass. The car parks in both resorts 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 Telluride|
|Denver||3 hours 15 mins||6 hours 30 mins|
|Boulder||3 hours 30 mins||7 hours|
|Colorado Springs||3 hours 15 mins||5 hours 45 mins|
|Albuquerque||6 hours 30 mins||5 hours 30 mins|
|Utah||6 hours 15 mins||6 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.
On the other hand, Telluride is pretty isolated and the resort consists of a single mountain.
If you’re planning on visiting any other major Colorado ski resorts during your stay then Aspen Snowmass is the best option as it is much closer to Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Steamboat. The only major resort Telluride is located closer to is Silverton.
|Ski Resort||Drive Time to Aspen||Drive Time to Telluride|
|Vail||1 hour 45 mins||4 hours 30 mins|
|Beaver Creek||1 hour 45 mins||4 hours 30 mins|
|Copper Mountain||2 hours||5 hours|
|Keystone||2 hours 15 mins||5 hours 20 mins|
|Breckenridge||2 hours 30 mins||5 hours 30 mins|
|Steamboat||3 hours||5 hours 30 mins|
|Silverton||4 hours 30 mins||2 hours|
In both resorts you’ll be able to stay in hotels, ski-in/ski-out lodges and condos.
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. Accommodation is usually cheaper in Telluride costs around $175-$600 per night for 2 adults in January.
Ski School Prices
Aspen Snowmass and Telluride both offer group and private ski and snowboard lessons for all ages. The prices are fairly comparable, except for during the holiday season where Aspen Snowmass is usually more expensive.
The prices for group lessons are usually a bit cheaper at Aspen Snowmass, as are the full day private sessions. Conversely, the half day private session is cheaper at Telluride.
|Lesson Type||Aspen Snowmass Price||Telluride Price|
|Child Group (Half Day)||$242||N/A|
|Child Group (Full Day)||$269||$275|
|Adult Group (Half Day)||N/A||$150|
|Adult Group (Full Day)||$269||$295|
|Private All Ages (Half Day)||$753 (1-5 people)||$605 (for 1-5 people)|
|Private All Ages (Full Day)||$973 (1-5 people)||$1075 (for 1-5 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 and equipment rentals are more expensive in Aspen Snowmass compared to Telluride. The tickets cost only a few dollars more per day for adults, however the difference between the child ticket prices are significant so you’ll make a big saving at Telluride if your group has younger children in it.
Please see the tables below for more information.
|Ticket Price Day Lift||Aspen Snowmass||Telluride|
|Equipment Rental (Daily)||Aspen Snowmass||Telluride|
|Most Premium Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$79||$70|
|Cheapest Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$62||$52|
|Junior Package (Skis, Poles, Boots)||$46||$39|
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?
If you want to visit a huge resort with different mountains, villages and loads of things to do then Aspen Snowmass is the best option. However, if you’re looking for a quieter resort with a more relaxed vibe then you’ll prefer Telluride.
In terms of the skiing experience, Aspen Snowmass offers more for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Telluride on the other hand is more beginner friendly and has more varied terrain to suit groups of mixed abilities.
Here are some other things to keep in mind to help you make your decision:
- Telluride lift tickets and accommodation is cheaper
- Aspen Snowmass has better snow at the end of the ski season
- Aspen Snowmass is easier to get to from most major locations
- Aspen Snowmass is closer to other major ski resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Steamboat
Check out this comparison between Vail and Aspen Snowmass ski resorts
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