There's a reason Aspen Snowmass is world renowned when it comes to ski vacations. And while ski trips can be a challenge for families, especially if you have kids in different age groups, Aspen Snowmass boasts 5,300 skiable acres of terrain, so this four-mountain resort has something for everyone. Truly the ideal mountain for families, this spot has really gone out of its way to make the skiing and boarding experience an enjoyable one for all ages and skill levels.
Unlike many other ski areas, Aspen Snowmass isn’t overcrowded, so you can enjoy wide open slopes. We never waited in a lift line for more than two minutes and with four mountains to choose from, we never skied a run twice. Buttermilk Mountain offers the most beginner terrain and is the perfect place for kids just learning to ski and snowboard. Snowmass has a good mix of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain, so if your family has a wide-range of abilities, this is your spot.
The Snowmass Base Village also just opened at the end of 2018, and includes a community center with an Ice Age Discovery Center and kids’ game room, as well as an ice skating rink and climbing wall, making this the perfect new place for families to stay. Aspen and Aspen Highlands offer primarily intermediate and expert terrain—rugged tree runs, steep bowls, and hikeable trails are just a few of the highlights for those who want a real challenge. The four mountains are connected by an easily-accessible, free bus system that runs frequently between destinations.
We also had a blast off the slopes. From ice skating and rock climbing to tubing and riding the Alpine Coaster, the resort offers a wide variety of activities beyond the slopes for everyone to enjoy. The stunning panoramic views from any of the four mountains are worth the trip alone, but the family-friendly vibe of the mountain coupled with some of the best skiing in the country makes Aspen Snowmass a must for families looking for a winter vacation that everyone will rave about.
The main thing to keep in mind when renting a hotel or condo is that Aspen and Snowmass are actually about a fifteen minute drive apart. So, if you’re planning to ski more at one of the two mountains, you may want to book your accommodations accordingly. Buttermilk Mountain is in between the two and the seamless bus system makes getting from one destination to the other simple, so if you have your heart set on one location over the other, it’s easy to travel between the mountains.
For Aspen, try the Little Nell. It’s the only hotel with ski-in, ski-out access to Aspen Mountain. Kids will head straight for the heated pool and jacuzzi, which offers stunning views of the mountain.
For Snowmass, check out the Viceroy Snowmass. Nestled in Snowmass Village, this hotel is just steps from the base of the ski area. Don’t forget to take the kids to cookie decorating offered every Wednesday. And take advantage of ski valet to make getting your equipment to the slopes a breeze.
If you’re looking for more space where you can have a full kitchen and a separate room for everyone, renting a vacation condo is also a great option. Check out Chateau Eau Claire or Fasching Haus for family-friendly condos with jaw-dropping mountain views and a quintessential mountain feel.
If you’re just getting off the slopes in Snowmass, Base Camp Bar and Grill is the perfect spot for some après ski. Fire pits keep the outdoor patio toasty as you overlook the ski runs you’ve just conquered. We enjoyed some of the 30+ hand-crafted Colorado beers available on top or by bottle. For the adults in the group, there’s also a free bourbon and beer tasting every Tuesday from 3-4pm. The kids will love fan favorites like the cast iron mac & cheese, brisket nachos and tempura battered chicken tenders with fries. For a similar après ski feel on the Aspen side, Ajax Tavern offers unmissable views of the slopes and a similarly divine food and drink menu. We also enjoyed watching the friendly mountain dogs frolic in the snow.
Mix up your usual post-mountain grub with some sushi and noodles at Sake in the Base Village at Snowmass. From specialty hand-crafted sushi rolls to steaming hot fried rice and pad thai, everyone had something they loved. There was also a grilled oyster special with spicy sauce that was to die for. If they have it, get it.
For a special family affair, try the chuckwagon dinner offered every Wednesday from 5-7:30pm. Meet at the Base Village in Snowmass and take a 15-minute snowcat ride to the cabin. Upon arrival, you’ll find a winter wonderland complete with hot cider, a warm fire, and live entertainment, including family sing-a-longs. The kids' menu is a simpler version of the four-course menu offered for adults, so everyone will enjoy similar flavors like tomato soup with mini grilled cheese, pan roasted chicken and apple-raisin bread pudding. Yum!
Apart from first-class skiing and snowboarding runs, there really are too many other perks to name them all. I’ve included a few particularly family-friendly options to help round out your snowy adventure!
Our personal favorite is Uller Nights (named for the Norse God of Snow). This fun nighttime affair is full of winter activities and is offered every Friday at Elk Camp on Snowmass. Ride the gondola up to the camp and take part in tubing, snowbiking (there are even bikes for kids ages 3-5), guided snowshoe tours (for ages 7 and up), and even a snow slide. Live music, a bonfire with s’mores, piping hot cups of cocoa and even a tent dedicated to activities and entertainment just for kids round out the event
Tubing at Snowmass is open every day during the winter season. A huge plus is the lanes carved into the mountainside are lift served, so you can fly down the mountain over and over without wasting your energy on a long climb back to the top. The lanes are also illuminated during Ullr Nights.
This awesome coaster meanders through over a mile of forest, giving visitors an up-close and personal view of the gorgeous mountain scenery while providing a bit of a thrill at the same time. This is definitely a unique feature that I’ve yet to come across at other ski areas.
The new ice-skating rink in Snowmass Base Village is perfect for kids of all ages. The best part? Since it just opened, it’s free this year! The rink also currently offers free rentals and s’mores.
Inside the Limelight hotel at Snowmass Base Village is a five-story climbing wall for village visitors. The layout of the wall is actually based on outdoor climbing routes from around the area.
By Allison Marz