Skiing and Snowboarding
The Roaring Fork Valley extends for about 50 miles from its peak at Aspen down to Glenwood Springs, where the Roaring Fork River joins the Colorado River. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, this area holds some of the world’s finest ski areas, as well as unparalleled opportunities for cross-country skiing.
Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding
At the top of the valley, adjacent to the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village, you will find the four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, all owned by the Aspen Skiing Company
. (Locals refer to it as “SkiCo.”)
Aspen/Snowmass Ski Areas
The 673 acre “Ajax” area is the flagship mountain of the Aspen/Snowmass resort. It offers 8 lifts and excellent intermediate to expert terrain that includes steep and bump runs. Base is at 7,945 feet and the summit is 11,212 feet.
Highlands is a locals’ favorite; with 112 trails and about 70% of the terrain rated more difficult to expert, it’s a place for confident intermediate and expert skiers. Base is at 8,040 feet and the summit is 11,675 feet.
With 5 terrain parks for snowboarders and uncrowded slopes, Buttermilk built its reputation on catering to beginners and families. Site of the Winter X Games, it has been voted #1 in the Transworld Snowboarding Magazine Reader’s Poll for best pipe. Base is at 7,870 feet and the summit is at 9,990 feet.
Snowmass is the second-largest ski area in US; 36 Disneylands could fit within its boundaries! Snowmass holds 94 trails, 21 chairlifts, plus a gondola. A family-friendly area with long, groomed cruising runs and a snowboarders’ paradise, Snowmass is also a great place for powder skiing. Base is 8,104 feet and the top is at 12,510 feet.
Family-friendly and affordable, Sunlight Mountain
, gives you a full day of skiing for about half the cost of tickets at major resorts. You’ll park for free, walk to the lifts, and never stand in line. Sunlight, located 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs, features 67 named trails, with 20% for beginners and 55% for intermediates. Base is at 7,885 feet and the summit is at 9,895 feet.
Located about an hour’s drive east from Glenwood Springs, at the foot of the Roaring Fork Valley, the Vail Resort
boasts 5,200 acres of skiing, seven legendary Back Bowls spanning seven miles, and the most groomed terrain in the world. Vail Mountain is accessed by three base areas: Lionshead, Vail Village, and Golden Peak. It’s also home to Kid’s Adventure Zones, three Terrain Parks including Golden Peak Terrain Park, home of the 22-foot superpipe and site of the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships. Mountain base is at 8,150 feet and the summer is at 11,570 feet.
Aspen’s Parks Department maintains one of the largest free cross-country trail systems in the US. The Nordic trails system consists of 100 kilometers of groomed ski and snowshoe trails stretching from Aspen to Snowmass, including both the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club and Snowmass Golf Club.
For backcountry trails, local Nordic skiers often head to nearby Avalanche Creek. The route is good for both snowshoers and skiers, but no dogs are allowed. Avalanche Ranch also offers ice-skating and snowshoeing.
The Spring Gulch Nordic Trail System, located 7 miles west of Carbondale, offers 12 miles of tracked trails to Nordic enthusiasts. The trail system is maintained and operated by the Mount Sopris Nordic Council, a community-based non-profit organization; no fees are charged. All levels of skiers can find trails in this system that will suit their abilities.
For backcountry touring, the 8,755-foot-high McClure Pass guarantees good snow conditions. The route climbs through a peaceful forest and follows Ragged Mountain Road from the top of McClure Pass on Highway 133 for five miles to the end of the road. For expert skiers aware of back country conditions.