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Exploring Aspen

Everything you need to know for the perfect winter holiday

Article by Kendall Houlton

Photography by Kendall Houlton + Provided

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Traveling to Chamonix, France last year wasn’t feasible, so my family opted for a ski vacation closer to home in Colorado. Visiting Aspen can be an ideal way to spend your winter holiday, and you CAN do it ALL during a winter school break!

As home to the world’s first world championships held outside of Europe, Aspen is renowned for its incredibly dreamy winter experiences and celebrity sightings. This year is even more special because @AspenSnowmass is celebrating 75 years of skiing, offering guests four world-class mountains to choose from: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. These mountains offer a wide variety of terrain perfect for everyone from beginner to expert and this year's celebratory events include Luminescence in Snowmass, Winterskol in Aspen, XGames at Buttermilk and much more.

Runway to Slopeside in Minutes

Aspen is in the Roaring Fork Valley, southeast of Vail, and there are plenty of ways to reach the ski resort. Located just 5 minutes from Buttermilk (and 10 minutes from Snowmass and Aspen Mountain), the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport accommodates flights from major U.S. airports on United, Delta, and American Airlines.

The most direct way of reaching the resort is driving I-70 west to CO 82 south through Glenwood Springs. Expect about a 3 1/2-4 hour drive.   Other nearby airports include Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), which is west of Vail and east of Glenwood Springs, while Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) is about 125 miles east. Colorado’s largest airport, Denver International (DEN) is 220 miles east and north of the Aspen ski area.   

The Epic Mountain Express (formerly known as the Colorado Mountain Express) offers ground transfers from Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Denver International Airport and Eagle County Regional Airport. Just download the Aspen Snowmass App and you’ll be able to see parking lot status.

As a group of ten, we opted to stay in an Airbnb home for two weeks outside of Carbondale between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. We chose this location because within 35 minutes we were either on the slopes at Aspen Snowmass or Sunlight Ski Resort. With nearly 730 skiable acres and a 2,000 vertical foot drop, Sunlight offers big skiing at an affordable price. After a day on the slopes we spent the best après-ski fun at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. 

Because of our large family, we rented a Cadillac Escalade but riding the local Roaring Fork Transit buses was very convenient when we wanted to get on the slopes earlier than the group. These buses run the entirety of the Roaring Fork Valley and many (but not all) routes are free. Free routes include all City of Aspen and all Aspen to/from Snowmass Village. Seniors 65 and older and children 5 and under always ride free. The Village Shuttle within Snowmass Village is also free to ride. RFTA’s real time bus information is available in an easy-to-use mobile app called Transit. 

Where to Stay?

When you’re looking for the perfect place to rest your head, you’ll find an amazing selection of great places to stay in the Roaring Fork Valley. Our Airbnb called “AspenWood” - located between Aspen and Glenwood Springs - was one of our faves. Located on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, this beautiful river compound was like our own resort without the crowds. With views of Roaring Fork River from the 8-person hot tub, a gourmet kitchen, two fireplaces, and plenty of room for everyone, we wished we could have stayed longer.

Ski Resort Lift Tickets & Rental Gear

The Aspen Snowmass 2021-22 ski season runs from late November through early to mid-April, depending on the mountain. All four of Aspen’s mountains are open from 9am-3:30pm daily, and one lift ticket gets you on all four mountains — sweet!  If you book 7 days in advance you’ll save between 13- 45% off. Aspen Snowmass offers a variety of season passes and participates in some of the industry's best multi-destination ski passes including the Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective Pass, and Colorado Ski Country's Gold Pass. If you need to rent skis or snowboards, Stapleton Ski, Up Snowboard Rentals, and Miller Sports are located in the heart of Aspen. Or reserve your equipment with Ski Butlers who deliver everything directly to your accommodations. 

Luckily for us, we discovered @RaggedMountainSports, a premier consignment store that offers a plethora of great gear. This shop is known for its friendly customer service if you quickly need to grab a thermal base layer or a helmet.

Find more information about ski passes at

Airbnb Accommodations: AspenWood House

RFTA Transit App: Bus, Uber, Bikeshare, Carshare

  • AspenWood Airbnb
  • Downtown Aspen
  • AspenWood Airbnb
  • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort