Aspen vs Snowmass: Which is the Best Option?


Aspen and Snowmass are both part of the same area and are located around 10 miles away from each other which is roughly a 25 minute drive. If you are planning a trip to Aspen Snowmass then you have the choice of basing your stay at either village/ mountain.

In this article I’ll compare Aspen and Snowmass in terms of their skiing experience, villages, accommodation, location and more so you can decide which is the best option.

Aspen vs Snowmass

Snowmass is a much larger mountain compared to Aspen with an approximately 5 times greater skiable area. However, Aspen has a larger ski village with more dining, nightlife and accommodation options in comparison to Snowmass.

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Mountain typically open and close on the same date within each ski season. The season usually lasts from late November to mid-April.

Aspect of the ResortBest Option
Beginner TrailsSnowmass
Intermediate TrailsSnowmass
Advanced TrailsAspen
VillageAspen
AccommodationAspen
On-Mountain DiningSnowmass
Easiest to Travel ToAspen
Aspen vs Snowmass ski resorts
Aspen mountain

Ski Map and Pistes

Snowmass is a much bigger mountain compared to Aspen. Aspen mountain has 675 acres of skiable terrain compared to Snowmass which has 3332 acres. The vertical drop, elevation, total number of trails and longest run are also greater on Snowmass.

For less experienced skiers and snowboarders, Snowmass is the better option. Both mountains most cater for intermediate and expert riders but Snowmass does have some options for beginners, unlike Aspen.

The only benefit of staying in Aspen if you’re a beginner is that it’s located very closely to Buttermilk mountain which has a lot more options for less experienced skiers and snowboarders.

For advanced and expert skiers, you really can’t go wrong with either. Snowmass has a larger vertical drop and more skiable terrain, whereas Aspen has some legendary double black runs and most skiers on the slopes are pretty advanced.

StatisticsAspen MountainSnowmass Mountain
Skiable Terrain675 acres3332 acres
Vertical Drop3267 ft4,406 ft
Base Elevation7,945 ft8,104 ft
Summit Elevation11,212 ft12,510 ft
Total Trails7694
Green Circle Trails (Beginner)0%6%
Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)48%47%
Black Diamond Trails (Advanced)26%17%
Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)26%30%
Longest Run4.8 km8.5 km
Number of Ski Lifts821
Aspen vs Snowmass mountain statistics

Opening Hours

Some of the ski lifts on Snowmass open earlier and close later in the day compared to Aspen.

On Snowmass mountain, most lifts open at 9:00 am except for the Sky Cab which opens at 8:00 am, The Village Express and Sam’s which open at 8:30 am and the Cirque lift which opens at 10:00 am. Most lifts close at 3:30 pm except the Village Express, Elk Camp Gondola, and Sheer Bliss which close at 4:00 pm.

On Aspen mountain, all lifts open at 9:00 am. Most lifts close at 3:30 pm except for the Silver Queen Gondola and Ajax Express which close at 4:00 pm and the FIS lift which closes at 3:45 pm.

Village and Other Activities

Aspen is a mountain town with roughly 7000 residents making it larger compared to Snowmass Village which is a smaller area that has around 2700 residents.

Aspen has better nightlife, dining and activities available since it is a bigger and more vibrant area compared to Snowmass. Many visitors base themselves in Aspen and then travel to Snowmass mountain to do most of their skiing so they get the best of both worlds.

Although Snowmass does have a decent bit going on, the atmosphere just isn’t as good. Aspen has much more history and ambience in comparison so if you are spending a good amount of time in the village, then Aspen wins in my opinion.

Snowmass village

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.

However, families may prefer the more relaxed vibe of Snowmass which is around 25 minutes away from the bustling town of Aspen.

Aspen has a greater selection of accommodation options since it is located in a larger town. In both locations you’ll be able to find economy, mid-range and luxury hotels and lodges but the accommodation options in Aspen are typically more expensive compared to Snowmass.

A 6-night stay for 2 adults in January costs between $275-$1000 per night in Snowmass and $250-$1800 per night in Aspen.

On-Mountain Dining

Both Aspen and Snowmass have on-mountain dining options, however Snowmass has more locations. The advantage of Snowmass is that some of the restaurants are open in the evening, unlike those on Snowmass which close mid-afternoon.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the options in both locations.

Snowmass On-Mountain Dining

Dining LocationTypePriceCuisineOpening Hours
High AlpineSelf-Service$-$$Sandwiches, Soups, Salads10:45-3:00
Two Creeks CafeSelf-Service$-$$Sandwiches, Soups, Salads8:30-4:00
Elk CampSelf-Service$-$$$Pizzas, Paninis, Salads, Rotisserie10:45-3:00
Up 4 PizzaSelf-Service$-$$Pizza, Cookies11:00-4:00
UllrhofTable Service$-$$Burgers, Hot Dogs, Soups, Salads10:45-3:00
Sam’sTable-Service$$-$$$Italian11:00-2:30
Lynn Britt CabinTable Service$$$Modern American11:00-4:00
On-mountain dining options on Snowmass

Aspen On-Mountain Dining

Dining LocationTypePriceCuisineOpening Hours
Bonnie’sSelf/Table Serve$-$$American9:00-3:00
SundeckSelf/Table Serve$-$$American, Mediterranean, Asian9:00-3:00
Ajax TavernTable Service$$-$$$French, American11:30-9:00
Element 47Table Service$$$Fine Dining7:00-10:30 and
6:00-9:00
On-mountain dining options on Aspen

Location and Traveling

Aspen and Snowmass are roughly a 25 minute drive away from each other.

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 ski village is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Denver International Airport whereas Snowmass is roughly 4 hours away.

In the Aspen Snowmass area you’ll also have the opportunity to ski two other areas: Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. If you plan to visit these areas then 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.

Since Aspen is a larger town, you’ll find it to be a bit more accessible compared to Snowmass. However, the transport links are pretty good for both villages and they’re not very far away from each other so I wouldn’t worry about this too much.

Many visitors will base themselves at either Aspen or Snowmass and then travel to the other location to ski or visit the village.

Additional Costs

Since Aspen and Snowmass are both part of the same overall resort, you’ll be able to ski on both mountains with the same ticket. The equipment rental costs are the same at either location. Here is a breakdown of the prices at the time of writing.

*Prices are in US dollars and are subject to change. Please check the resort website to plan your stay.

Ticket Price Day LiftWeekdayWeekend
Adult$159-$229$174-$229
Child/ Teen/ Senior$117-$169$132-$169
Aspen Snowmass day lift ticket prices
Equipment Rental (Daily)Price
Skis and Poles/ Snowboard$31.61
Helmet$10
Skis, Poles/ Snowboard and Boots$34.56
Aspen Snowmass equipment rental prices

Which Resort is Best?

Both Aspen and Snowmass are incredible resorts and the majority of visitors will spend some time at both locations during their stay.

For the skiing experience, Snowmass is typically the preferred option as it is a much larger mountain with more varied terrain so there’s options for all ability levels unlike Aspen which is geared towards advanced skiers.

However, Aspen has more dining, activities, shops and nightlife on offer compared to Snowmass so many visitors prefer to base themselves there and then travel to Snowmass to ski during the day.

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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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