Floridians have it made when it comes to sand, sea, and surf—but for snow, we have to travel (who’s complaining?). Aspen tops many a winter bucket list, but its chill little sister, Snowmass—elevation 8,209 feet—sits just around the corner.
The gold standard of ski mountains, Aspen and Snowmass share terrain in the Roaring Fork Valley, making the scenery just as picture- perfect as the skiing. In Snowmass, however, the vibe is more laid-back: Rather than a ritzy reservation to see and be seen, après-ski here looks like playing games on an ice-skating rink (skate rentals are free!) or swinging by the s’mores cart and finding a communal firepit at which to toast your treat. Despite the regularly single-digit temperatures of Colorado high country, the environment of Snowmass is warm and welcoming.
Go during the heart of winter and you’ll get a good understanding of the name “Snowmass.” The weeks that bring a royal dumping of powder are arguably the best time to visit for a welcome change of pace. Fly out of Palm Beach International, with a quick connection in Dallas, and be from sea to snow in about eight hours; upon landing at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, you’re just a 15-minute drive from Snowmass.
Around 95 percent of the lodging in Snowmass is ski-in/ski-out, so there are many good accommodation options, but treat yourself and book a room at the Viceroy Snowmass. Located at the foot of Snowmass Mountain, the property is a stone’s throw from the Assay Hill chairlift. Framed by majestic peaks, the hotel was ranked the number-one resort in Colorado in the 2021 World’s Best Awards survey by Travel + Leisure.
Guests love the Viceroy’s convenient location, luxe amenities, ski valet service, and supply of ski and snowboard rental equipment by Four Mountain Sports. And after a long day on the slopes, nothing rejuvenates fatigued muscles better than an Ute-inspired treatment in the 7,000-square-foot spa designed by Jean Michel-Gathy.
On-mountain, the diverse 3,300-acre terrain of Snowmass has both challenging runs for the long-initiated and routes accessible to beginners. With 98 trails, 20 chairlifts, and three terrain parks, you’re free to roam, at least while the lifts are open from 8:30 a.m.
to 3:30 p.m.
As the ski day winds down, Base Village—which recently wrapped a $600 million facelift that introduced new buildings, amenities, and public spaces—heats up. Located at the base of the Snowmass Ski Area where the Elk Camp Gondola and Village Express lifts terminate, it’s the hub of activity in Snowmass. The other main area is the Snowmass Mall, a multilevel open-air plaza with shops, restaurants, ski outfitters, firepits, live music, and more. While the distance is walkable, a gondola colloquially known as Skittles (for its cars painted in pops of primary colors) runs between the two.
Breakfast is unarguably the most important meal of the day when your itinerary consists of high altitudes and heavy exertion. Pop into JÜS Snowmass for healthy options, The Crêpe Shack to load up on carbs, or Fuel to rub elbows with locals (and devour a truly memorable breakfast burrito). For lunch, grab grub on the slopes—there are seven on-mountain restaurants to choose from—then head back out there to work up an
appetite for dinner.
In the evening, dine at Slow Groovin Chophouse for mouthwatering barbecue with a killer mountain view or The Edge Restaurant & Bar for a menu inspired by the alpine cuisines of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—because nothing replaces all the calories you burned on the slopes quite so deliciously as a giant pot of Gruyère and Emmentaler fondue. Equally hearty and delicious options can be found at The Stew Pot, the oldest restaurant in Snowmass and a local institution, which offers both everyday favorites and a rotating selection of special stews and soups.
Beyond eating and boarding, another thrilling Snowmass adventure is the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, which spans more than a mile through forest terrain, treating riders to untouched mountain trails at speeds of up to 28 mph (you control your own speed). A tubing hill, included in your ticket, is also nearby for the perfect day in Snowmass, sans gear.
Pack your suitcase with these cold-weather essentials from local shops