Get Your Ski On: A Guide to Our Resort Mountains

Whether you are a seasoned vet or a first-time warrior, the Roaring Fork Valley has a mountain (or several) suited for your skiing or snowboarding skills. The Aspen Snowmass area features four famed peaks: Aspen Mountain (Ajax, as locals call it), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk Mountain, and Snowmass Mountain. Offering multiple locations on each mountain for dining and celebrating, a diverse range of ski runs from green to double black, and outfitters with all of the gear you need within close proximity, these mountains are the core of the Roaring Fork Valley’s winter culture. 


As the town’s smallest (but mightiest) mountain, Aspen Mountain’s 675 acres boast 3,267 feet of elevation and incredibly high-quality terrain. This internationally renowned peak features double black diamond runs, moguls and seriously steep cliffs. More challenging than any of its neighboring mountains, the spirit of Ajax (as locals call it) is an unbridled need for speed. Naturally, it is best suited for the intermediate to expert skier. Bell Mountain, recognized by a nearly defunct double chairlift running up its spine, anchors Aspen Mountain. On the western side, the Dumps, a series of cascading runs named after the mine tailings that initially occupied this space, funnel into Spar Gulch. On Bell’s eastern face, Gentleman’s Ridge terrain narrows into Copper. All roads lead to the mountain’s base, apart from the far west side of the mountain, Lift 1, which serves the area’s first ski run, Ruthie’s, and is home to the World Cup course. Hero’s, a new addition on the east side of the mountain, adds 153 acres of terrain and plans to open for the 2023-2024 ski season. Rest your legs and recharge with a basic pizza lunch or an extravagant vegan power bowl at the Sundeck, or the famous apple strudel or white bean chili at midmountain Bonnie’s, then walk into town to finish the day with après—helmet hair and ski boots encouraged.


Base elevation: 7,945 feet

Summit elevation: 11,212 feet 

Vertical rise: 3,267 feet 

Terrain: 675 acres 

Number of trails: 76 

Total miles of trails: 64 

Longest run: 3 miles

Level of difficulty: Intermediate to expert 

Lifts: 8

On-mountain restaurants: Sundeck, Bonnie’s 


The view of Tibetan prayer flags atop the 12,392-foot Highland Bowl is a true feat to be celebrated. After a nearly hour-long hike conquering around 717 vertical feet, Aspen’s powder day patrons plunge through some of the steepest in-bounds skiing in North America. Considered a die-hard skiers’ (or boarders’) staple, the bowl offers a defining Highlands experience, on pretty much any day of the season. Though there’s quite a bit of chatter about the bowl, Aspen Highlands is a multi-faceted mountain with a ski run for everyone. A long ridge climbs up to Loge and Highland peaks, with runs falling off like a draped towel on both sides. Aspen glades? You better believe it. Roller-coaster-like groomers? Absolutely. Heart-thumping bumps? Naturally. Easy-breezy runs for kids? Those too. Not to mention the Highlands closing party, celebrated the last day of the season, which has evolved into an international sensation. The skiing is top-notch, complemented by a choice of food and dining options, such as Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Highlands Alehouse and midmountain Merry-Go-Round. After a day at this hill, what’s not to celebrate? 


Base elevation: 8,040 feet 

Summit elevation: 11,675 feet 

Top of Highland Bowl: 12,392 feet 

Vertical rise: 3,635 feet 

Terrain: 1,040 acres 

Number of trails: 144 

Total miles of trails: 84 

Longest run: 3.5 miles 

Level of difficulty: Easy to expert 


On-mountain restaurants: Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Merry-GoRound, Highlands Alehouse 


Providing a brief synopsis of a resort with as wide a range of activities as Snowmass Mountain (from magic carpet rides to cliff-level drop-offs) is no small task. But then again, Snowmass is no small mountain. Spanning a massive 3,342 acres, Snowmass Mountain is the largest mountain in the Aspen Snowmass area, contributing more than 50% of the area’s skier visits. For those seasoned skiers in the audience, we know what you’re thinking—more visitors means longer lines and more wait time between runs. While it is a popular spot, Snowmass’s wide acclaim luckily doesn’t correlate with longer lines. Skiers and snowboarders branch from 20 different chairlifts, exploring the expansive options on the slopes. Snowmass is nothing if not diverse, boasting long intermediate runs of Elk Camp and Campground for those bluebird sunny days, stomach dropping verticals of Hanging Valley Headwall, and family friendly cruisers on Assay Hill. If people aren’t skiing Snowmass, they’re clinging on for dear life on the alpine coaster, located in the Lost Forest adventure center. If the day feels more easy living than exciting adventure, explore the dining in any of the resort’s restaurants, which reject the classic assumption of bland ski resort meals by sourcing local and packing flavor. The new-and-improved Base Village offers all things active, from ice skating to yoga. With enough to do in Snowmass besides hitting the slopes, you don’t even need your ski boots! 


Base elevation: 8,104 feet 

Summit elevation: 12,510 feet 

Vertical rise: 4,406 feet 

Terrain: 3,332 acres 

Number of trails: 96 

Total miles of trails: 150

Longest run: 5.3 miles 

Level of difficulty: Easy to expert 

Parks and pipes: 3 terrain parks 

Lifts: 20 

On-mountain restaurants: Elk Camp, Sam’s, Up 4 Pizza, Two Creeks Cafe, Lynn Britt Cabin, Gwyn’s High Alpine, Ullrhof 


Buttermilk Mountain is both everything you assume and everything you don’t. In one form, it’s a beginner mountain for frightened powder pandas and unsure skiers, stumbling their way down the bunny hill. In another form, it’s a terrain park full of adventure, with young athletes flying through the air in the ESPN Winter X Games each January. In yet another form, it’s a favorite site for uphillers; Tiehack and Buttermilk traffic hundreds of athletes during peak season. While its reputation may feel more novice than virtuoso, don’t skip the opportunities at Buttermilk Mountain. Those thrill-seekers who overlook it with assumptions of green runs and boredom will be delighted by the Tiehack region, where 1,683 vertical feet get the heart pumping and adrenaline rushing. Plus, Buttermilk has a sweet side: Once you’ve earned your turns, The Cliffhouse’s Friday breakfasts and daily Mongolian barbecues are well worth the effort.


Base elevation: 7,870 feet 

Summit elevation: 9,900 feet 

Vertical rise: 2,030 feet 

Terrain: 470 acres 

Number of trails: 44 

Total miles of trails: 21

Longest run: 3 miles 

Level of difficulty: Easy to expert 

Parks and pipes: 2 terrain parks 


On-mountain restaurants: Bumps, Cliffhouse

Sunlight Mountain, Glenwood Springs 

If the icy temperatures of the upper valley aren’t your cup of tea, head down to Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs for a slightly warmer take on a ski vacation at a lower elevation. With on-mountain restaurant pricing at the Grizz Grill and Todd’s Tavern that is just as reasonable as the lift tickets, a trip to this resort provides all the adrenaline of an iconic winter break at a lower price point than its neighboring mountains. Explore 680 acres of ski runs around the resort. Beginners can relish the views from greens and blues while the seasoned skiers head to the double black diamonds and test out their tricks at the terrain park. Three chairlifts connect at the top of the mountain for a joint last run of the day. 

Base elevation: 7,885 feet 

Summit elevation: 9,895 feet 

Vertical rise:  2,010 feet 

Terrain: 680 acres 

Number of trails: 67 

Total miles of trails: 16 miles

Longest run: 2.5 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy to expert

Parks and pipes: 1 terrain park

Lifts: 3

On-mountain restaurants: Grizz Grill, Todd’s Tavern

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