Snowmass Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Snowmass Piste Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    8,104 – 12,510 (4,406)
  • Average Snow Fall
    300 inches 
  • Lifts (20)
    1 gondola
    1 high speed 6-pack
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 94
    Longest run – 5.3mi
    Beginner - 6%
    Intermediate - 47%
    Advanced - 17%
    Expert - 30%

Snowmass Ski Area

Unlike Buttermilk Mountain and Aspen Mountain, the Snowmass ski area caters to all ability levels, and Snowmass provides more diversity compared with Aspen Highlands. This is in part due to the sheer size of Snowmass ski resort compared to Aspen Highlands. The only thing Snowmass lacks relative to Aspen Highlands is the same degree of alpine terrain that can be found with the famous Highlands Bowl.

Even though much of Snowmass’ acreage is formed from the huge vertical (4,406 feet/ 1,343 metres), it’s also a very wide ski resort. Thankfully it’s easy to navigate because in simplistic terms it spreads across one big face. It takes some time to travel across the ski resort, and there are lots of flat tracks that become more evident on powder days. They mark a few of them on the trail map (as they do across Aspen Snowmass) but not all. Getting into the Alpine Springs lift requires a bit of trail traversing on Adam’s Avenue. The trail in from Sandy Park and Turkey Trot is also rather mellow when it passes the Meadows beginners area.

Snowmass Lifts

The lift infrastructure at Snowmass is excellent and it’s possible for intermediates to only ride fast lifts. In addition to the new Elk Camp gondola and 8 fast chair lifts, Snowmass has a mix of slower lifts, ski school lifts for beginners, and the Cirque surface lift that can still operate in reasonably windy conditions.

The Sky Cab gondola that is used by beginners and pedestrians is very slow, but the High Alpine lift is the only real disappointment at Snowmass. Firstly the name isn’t particularly apt because only the very top pokes into the alpine, but hey names don’t really matter! It’s a slow lift and the layout isn’t ideal. Experts wanting to do laps in this area may have to do long traverses and catch two lifts to get back to the top.

Lift Tickets

The lift passes are valid at any of the four Aspen Snowmass ski resorts. Lift tickets are not cheap (like everything else in Aspen Snowmass), but at least at Snowmass you know you’re getting value for money in the form of good lift infrastructure.

Aspen Snowmass is accessible off the Ikon Pass.

Snowmass Snow

The quality of the snow is pretty typical for Colorado. Sometimes the powder is a fraction heavy (but nothing like Sierra Cement) and at other times it’s really cold and the powder is fluffy and divine.

Snowmass generally has slightly better snow than its Aspen Snowmass counterparts, in part because the upper reaches of the ski resort are at very high elevation (up to 3,813 metres). As to be expected the quality of the snow varies significantly across the 1,343 metres (4,406 feet) of vertical, and like the other Aspen Snowmass ski resorts, the snow quality at the base can be inferior and the slopes can get rather slick.

Crowds at Snowmass

Snowmass is certainly not an undiscovered ski resort, so fresh tracks don’t last for days. However Snowmass is big enough that on a powder day, freshies might last into the late afternoon. Powderhounds can generally find hidden powder stashes in the trees or in the more technically difficult areas.

Snowmass is a very popular resort and the lift system copes well with the hordes. The Fanny Hill beginners’ area is often very congested, yet further afield the skier traffic thins out. And thankfully Snowmass doesn’t score the Denver day trippers on the weekend, so Snowmass is uncrowded relative to Vail Ski Resort and the Summit County ski resorts.

For the Beginner

Snowmass isn’t as good as Buttermilk for novices and only 6% of the terrain consists of green trails. Nevertheless there’s enough terrain at Snowmass to keep most beginners entertained. Many beginners start on Fanny Hill which is very conveniently located next to the bulk of the ski-in ski-out accommodations. This isn’t a dedicated beginner zone and it can get a little busy here.

At the nearby Assay Hill, beginners can practise in peace without better riders hooning past them. The other option is to head up the Elk Camp gondola (with the option of downloading the gondola at the end of the day) to the Meadows area. This area has a very mellow slope, and it also has the advantage of being fenced off (so hoons can’t get in and beginners can’t escape!).

More confident beginners can take trails off Sam’s Knob and the Elk Camp gondola.

Intermediate Skiing and Snowboarding Snowmass

Snowmass is fantastic for intermediates with 50% of the trails rated as blue. Intermediate trails cover most of the ski resort and some of the wide blue cruisers go on forever. You might score some delightful leg burn! The blue runs are not as steep as some of the blue runs at Aspen Mountain, so Snowmass is great for intermediates to gain more confidence.

The Big Burn area has a couple of ungroomed blue runs so this is the spot to get some mogul practice in, and even some of the trees in this area could be tackled by confident intermediates.

Terrain Parks & Pipes

Snowmass caters very well to the park shredder via three terrain parks for different ability levels. The Snowmass Park is large and also incorporates a superpipe, whilst just a little further down the slope is a beginner halfpipe with 12 foot walls.

Advanced Skiing Snowmass

Whilst only 12% of the trails are rated for advanced skiers and snowboarders, in reality it feels like Snowmass has much more single black terrain. In addition to the groomed and mogul piste trails, there are lots of off-piste tree runs. The Sheer Bliss lift in particular is appropriately named!

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Of the marked trails at Snowmass, 32% are rated as double blacks for experts, some of which fall into the “official” extreme category. Your legs won’t shake for long though, because the extreme element of the runs tends to be pretty short.

The High Alpine lift provides access to some fabulous terrain. Close to the lift are some great lines that you could send your ex-wife down! Baby Ruth has cliffs for huckers or a nice chute if you want to keep your boards on the snow. Or you can traverse across to Hanging Valley. This delightful zone seems to catch the snow nicely and has a range of steeps, tree skiing, pillow lines, a few cliffs, and other drops. This area seems huge and there are lots of little spots to explore. The only downside is that it’s quite time consuming to do laps of this area due to the lift layout.

The Cirque area also provides awesome terrain. Leap off cornices, navigate cliff bands, go tree skiing, or just enjoy the steep shots. Gowdy’s is a favourite with its narrow line that opens into a wide powder playground. The Cirque Headwall provides plenty of fun, or head around further to the East Face for more revel worthy lines.

Like any steep slopes, these areas can only open after avalanche control and when there’s plenty of snow cover. These mountains are not called the Rocky Mountains for nothing, so try to avoid a visit to the ski or board repair shop. And only hit Rock Island when there’s deep snow, for obvious reasons!