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Snowmass

Snowmass Ski Resort Guide

Snowmass, United States

Rated: 3/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForIntermediates, Snowboarders and Apres-Ski.
Highest Lift3,790m
Resort Height2,600m
 Nearest AirportsAspen and Vail/Eagle
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Snowmass

Located 12 miles (18km) from Aspen and sharing its lift pass, Snowmass offers 95% ski-in lodging and free postcards and stamps to anyone wanting to write home about their experiences on North America's longest half-pipe. In 1997 the installation of a high altitude surface lift to access the powder filled bowls of the Cirque, previously only available with the aid of a snowcat or a hike, gave it the highest lift in the USA and the biggest lift-served skiable vertical in the country (taken from Big Sky Montana). The lift operates 60 - 75 days of the year accessing terrain suited to intermediates or experts. The idea of the limited access is to prevent over-exploitation of the terrain and a surface lift can operate in the windy conditions that are sometimes present and which could stop a chair.

Summary

The American ski resort of Snowmass is in the American Rockies at an altitude of 2,600m.

Snowmass has direct access to 83 marked pistes, served by a total of 20 ski lifts.

The ski resort itself is at 2,600m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With ski lifts as high as 3,790m, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Snowmass?

The next notable snow forecast is 2cm, expected on 24 October, with around 33cm forecast over the next 7 days.

See our long-range Snow Forecast for the latest update, or   Join our Snow Mail Here

Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Snowmass
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Ski Area Stats

Snowmass Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Pistes
Number of runs
83
Cross Country
Total Length
80km
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts
20

Altitudes

Snowmass Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift3,790m
Resort Altitude (Snowmass)2,600m
Lowest Piste2,470m
Max Vertical1,320m

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Snowmass
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers
Snowboarding
Snow
Apres-Ski

Snowmass Overview

The largest of Aspen's skiing areas, Snowmass is more than 4 times the size of either Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands. With more than 3,010 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain it's a family favourite with hundreds of acres of beginner trails, steep and deeps, wide open cruisers, endless moguls, terrain parks and half-pipes. It also has the advantage of easy slope access with 95% of its accommodation ski-in/ski-out.

Snowmass officially opened to skiers in 1967 as a joint venture of Aspen Skiing Corporation and Janss Corporation. The development of Snowmass cost $10 million and converted the Brush Creek area, 12 miles west of Aspen, from what had previously been ranchlands into a planned ski resort complete with water-heated access road named appropriately Snowmelt Road.

At one time it was silver which brought Aspen prosperity. Silver mining peaked in 1892 when Aspen was the largest silver producing district in the nation with a population of 12,000. The demonetisation of silver in 1893 put Aspen into a rapid economic decline with the closing down of many of the mines and farming and ranching becoming the mainstays of the local community. It was in one of the few remaining mines that the world's largest silver nugget, weighing 2,200lbs was discovered in 1894. During what is now known as the Quiet Years, Aspen's population hit an all-time low of only 700 residents who had become a quiet, close-knit community full of local characters.

In 1936 Swiss ski racer Andre Roch mapped out the first run on Aspen Mountain and the locals built a 10-passenger boat tow, powered by an old mine hoist and truck engine and cut the first ski run - Roch Run. Aspen received international acclaim in 1950 when it hosted the first FIS World Alpine Championships in North America. It was in 1958 that William Janss, a former ski racer and land developer first became interested in Snowmass and purchased the majority of the land at its base - 17 years after having first visited Aspen to compete in the National Alpine Championships.

The first organised skiing took place on Snowmass that year, 1958, with Aspen Ski Corporation offering snowcat powder tours on the Big Burn and Sam's Knob. At that time there were 5 chairlifts and 80km/50 miles of trails. The Elk Camp area was developed and opened to skiers in 1971 while the Two Creeks area opened in 1995 providing a second gateway to the mountain.

Snowmass has the second highest lift served skiing terrain in North America, serviced by the country's first environmentally friendly wind-powered lift. Not burning fossil fuels to run the lift keeps 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, thats the equivalent of planting 17 acres of trees or not driving 95,000 miles. To protect wildlife, the lift was built between mating and nesting periods and to protect the land, workers carried equipment up the mountain on foot.

The Cirque at Snowmass is legendary among advanced skiers and boarders, at 3,813m/12,310ft above sea level it provides a breathtaking experience. When it really snows at this point it is almost impossible to see the tips of your skis.

The ski run served by the Cirque was renamed Rocky Mountain High in 1998 in tribute to the late John Denver who was a regular on the mountain.

 Notable Ski Runs

The most difficult run is the 'Gowdy’s and AMF'.

Skiing

According to Chris Davenport, an extreme skier and Ambassador for Aspen it is possible to ski all of Snowmass's terrain in one day. His advice is to pick a blue sky Colorado day and study your piste map to choose the best route. By starting off over on the Sam's Knob side and working your way towards Elk Camp, you'll be following the sun and be able to enjoy the incredible afternoon glow it creates over Elk Camp - not to be missed. If you manage to ski Snowmass in one day you will have ridden at least 12 chairlifts and skied 20,000 vertical feet!

For skiers who are new to Snowmass it's worth taking advantage of the free two-hour mountain tours which happen daily and will help to familiarise you with the area. Skiers should be intermediate to advanced and have a lift ticket. The Cirque at Snowmass is legendary among advanced skiers and boarders, at 3,813m/12,310ft above sea level this is the highest point of any ski area in North America and provides a breathtaking experience. When it really snows at this point it is almost impossible to see the tips of your skis, hence Chris Davenport's advise to choose a sunny day! The bowl offers deep-powder skiing after a snowstorm, and KT Gully is an alpine roller-coaster ride. Cliff jumpers can get hang time on Gowdy's and Baby Ruth. For stomach dropping steeps skiers head for Garret's Gulch, Bearclaw, Headwall and ADF which some say stands for adios, my friend.

Experts looking for adventure will find plenty in Hanging Valley which is the closest thing to back country without going out of bounds. This area has it all - steeps, glades, cornices, cliffs and deep snow. On a powder day, skiers and riders wait anxiously for ski patrol to drop the ropes and open the area. Burnt Mountain, once a playground only for those skilled in backcountry techniques it is now open to skiers and snowboarders and winds 3 miles through the forests just east of the Elk Camp area. Those wishing to earn extra turns, backcountry style, can hike from Elk Camp to the top of Burnt Mountain.

On Fridays at Snowmass and Aspen Highlands, there are Off-Piste Tours designed to give expert skiers a chance to try some of the area's famous double-black diamond terrain with an experienced guide. However, its not all extreme skiing at Snowmass, this resort is essentially known as being a family-friendly area with long, groomed cruising runs and uncrowded slopes, 2 people per acre/5 people per hectare to be exact. The wide-open Ruthie's Run is a favourite with cruisers and Ruthie's Chairlift is the world's only high-speed double chair, introduced to preserve the intimacy of skiing, allowing couples and friends to sit together and chat privately.

Those seeking the ultimate in solitude should sign up for First Tracks, its on a first come, first served basis and is free on production of your lift ticket. The group will have the privilege of making first tracks in fresh powder or on freshly groomed corduroy.

For up to the minute information during your holiday you can tune into Aspen Today, Aspen's own radio station which is broadcast live from the top of the mountain from 7am to 10am every day and features local weather forecasts, complete 4 mountain snow conditions. activities for children and information on whats happening in and around town.

Snowmass offers good sking, particularly, for Intermediate skiers.

Snowboarding

Snowmass is like snowboarders' heaven with its vast snowboard terrain, 3,010 wild acres of freeriding fun loaded with wide-open groomers, huge natural halfpipes, powder-packed bowls, steeps, hits, tree lines and mile-wide roller-coaster-like runs. More than half the terrain at Snowmass is intermediate.

Snowmass has 2 halfpipes and 2 terrain parks, catering to riders of all abilities. Complete with lift access and a booming sound system, the Coney Glade area is home to the Trenchtown halfpipe and terrain park, great for advanced riders. while Funnel's halfpipe and terrain park cater to beginner and intermediates. The Trenchtown pipe, kept in top condition by a Pipe Dragon groomer, is 300 feet long, constructed to world-class competition specifications and served by a handle tow lift (enabling riders to get in maximum airtime). The Trenchtown park, separated by the pipe into upper and lower sections, features a variety of tabletops, spine ramps, rail-slides and fun boxes.

The Funnel halfpipe, a beginner/intermediate pipe that is shallower and shorter than the competition pipe at Trenchtown, is accessed via the Funnel chairlift and located on Lower Funnel. The perfect venue for riders to sharpen their technique before jumping into the big pipe. Its an intermediate rider's dream with small features that enable riders of all levels to practice, but don't be fooled, riders can still get airborne and pull off that perfect backside 360.

Must-do's include the Elk Camp area, an ideal sanctuary for riders who enjoy carving down freshly groomed wide-open slopes with the convenience of quick laps on a high-speed quad. Long Shot, a backcountry-like, ungroomed run that winds 3 miles through forests, is just a 5 minute hike east of the top of Elk Camp. Naked Lady is a favourite for its floating rollers atop velvet corduroy snow.

The Big Burn offers some of the longest high-altitude intermediate runs where riders are guaranteed to feel their quads quake. The Campground area's snow stays untracked days after a big snowfall, delighting riders who continue to discover fresh tree lines and bottomless powder stashes. Expert riders head to the legendary Cirque at Snowmass, where a breathtaking alpine slide awaits. From the top of the Cirque lift, adrenaline seekers can access the Cirque Headwall, AMF and Gowdy's. From the top of High Alpine, ambitious riders hike 10 minutes to get hang time on Hanging Valley Wall.

Kris Klug, top US professional snowboard racer makes Aspen his home when he's not travelling the world and his favourite mountain is Snowmass. When Chris is not training he can often be found freeriding on Hanging Valley.

Location and Map

Where is Snowmass?

This ski resort is in the American Rockies in Pitkin, Colorado.

Map

Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Snowmass is Aspen, 15 minutes drive away.

Vail/Eagle, Grand Junction, Montrose and Steamboat Springs airports are all within three hours drive.

Aspen and Vail/Eagle are just one hours drive away, in good driving conditions, so you can be on the piste quickly.

Infrastructure

Ski Lift Capacity

The 20 ski lifts are able to uplift 24,840 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Season Dates

When is Snowmass open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November, and usual closing is Mid April.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Snowmass, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Snowmass Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Snowmass

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

The apres-ski is everything one would expect from an upmarket ski resort with an extensive range of facilities including everything from billiards to jazz clubs, discos to no-nonsense Western bars.

Aspen's oldest bar is The Red Onion dating back to 1892 and still a favourite with the locals, good for homemade American and Mexican food. Syzygy have live jazz nightly at 10pm while the Ute City Bar & Grill is the rendezvous for live music at weekends.

For tequila fans Jimmy's American Restaurant & Bar have no less than 54 different types and if you like to start your evening with a Happy Hour or 2 then the Cooper Street Bar and Restaurant is the place to be, Aspen's casual gathering place for 27 years, it has Bar Specials, Games and Sports Satellite TV with Happy Hour from 3-6pm.

Snowmass