Aspen Highlands has ski and snowboard terrain for all ability levels, but it’s most well known for the expert runs – the type you’d love to send your mother-in-law down! Subsequently Aspen Highlands is often the preferred mountain for hard core ski bums and the local old-hands.
Aspen Highlands is unassuming and doesn’t have the same high profile as its Aspen Snowmass
counterparts, or ski resorts like Vail
or Beaver Creek
. Aspen Highlands also lacks the over-the-top glamour and bling bling of these other ski resorts, and has a rather down to earth vibe.
Ski and Snowboard Terrain & Highland Bowl
Aspen Highlands is the second largest of the Aspen Snowmass
ski resorts, but at only 416 hectares (1,028 acres) it is pretty small, especially in comparison to the Big Daddy Snowmass
. The lift accessed vertical rise is 1,108 metres (3,635 feet) up to an elevation of 3,559 metres (11,675 ft), or you can hike up to 3,777 metres (12,392 feet) if your lungs are up for it. Even with the lift accessed terrain you’ll need to be fit, because you won’t get much rest on the lifts (3 of the 5 lifts are high speed quads).
The ski resort has plenty of trails for beginners and lots of eye-watering groomers for intermediates. Aspen Highlands doesn’t have many single black runs, and these tend to be mogul runs. Many of the double black trails are also mogul runs, so if you’re Shannon Bahrke you’ll love Aspen Highlands! The moguls may even give the notorious Mary Jane a run for her money.
The Highland Bowl
is the pièce de résistance of Aspen Highlands. It features steep backcountry style terrain in an open bowl that fans down to tight trees. Some of the pitches are as steep as 48 degrees, and much of the terrain can be rather humbling. The bowl is partially snowcat accessed but is mostly hike-to-terrain, and the hike can be brutal at that altitude if you’re not acclimatized! At least the views of the Maroon Bells from the top are a reward in themselves.
Another upside is that the hike scares enough punters away from this slice of heaven to ensure the bowl is not crowded, so freshies last a while and the snow quality is reasonably good. Fresh tracks across the rest of the resort don’t last particularly long. Aspen Highlands isn’t crowded like Vail ski resort
or the Summit County ski resorts on a weekend, but it certainly isn’t an undiscovered secret.
Where is the Aspen Highlands Ski Resort?
Aspen Highlands is to the west of the town of Aspen Colorado
, about 3.5 miles by road (10 minute drive). Aspen Highlands is accessible from Aspen or Snowmass
via a free shuttle bus system.
The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (aka Sardy Field) is just a stone’s throw away from Aspen Highlands. See the Aspen travel
page for more information on getting to Aspen.
Aspen Highlands Apartments and Lodging
Aspen Highlands doesn’t have a village per se; rather a base area with a couple of shops, a pub, a restaurant, various apartments (condos) and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Aspen Highlands lodging is a good choice if your main focus is just skiing or snowboarding, because there’s little else to do.
The other option is to stay in Aspen and catch the shuttle bus to Aspen Highlands. The advantage of staying in Aspen is easy access to non-skiing activities such as the restaurant scene, the nightlife, and the fabulous Aspen shopping. The only downside may be that Aspen lodging generally costs a little more, although it is possible to find moderately priced lodging in Aspen. See the Aspen hotels
page for more information.
Another alternative is to commute to Aspen Highlands from Snowmass, a very family friendly village. See the Snowmass lodging
page for more information.
Aspen Snowmass Lodging Listings
Ski Resort Facilities
Aspen Highlands has a Four Mountain Sports shop at the base that provides ski and snowboard rental. Other facilities include overnight storage, lockers and a snowsports school. There are no child care facilities at Aspen Highlands – you’ll need to head to Snowmass
Lunch is available at the newly remodelled mid-mountain Merry Go Round restaurant. The food is self-service cafeteria style, and on sunny days you can sit outside. Further up the mountain is the Cloud Nine Bistro that serves up European fare such as raclette, fondue and strudel, which can be topped off with glühwein and views of the Maroon Bells. Cloud Nine is also available for snowcat dinners.
At the base area is the Highlands Pizza Company or there’s the Out of Bounds pub that has an awesome sunny outdoor patio - great for people watching! Out of Bounds is equally good for lunch or for après drinks.
Why Ski or Snowboard at Aspen Highlands?
Aspen Highlands has a range of terrain for all ability levels, but caters particularly well for advanced to expert riders. And the alpine terrain of the massive Highland Bowl
is the bomb. Other major pluses are the killer views of the Maroon Bells and the laid back vibe.
Tours that may include Aspen Highlands