With borders open and Aussies free to roam once more, it’s crunch time for many trying to decide where their Northern Hemisphere winter holiday should be.
For those looking for the best combination of powder snow, plenty of terrain, family-friendly fun plus the après scene to beat all après scenes – there’s simply no going past Aspen.
Aussies have been flocking to the Colorado mountain since the 1980s, seduced by the longtime ski history, the glittery town, the promise of celebrity-spotting and the mountains that watch over it all.
And Aspen learned to love Aussies right back, with Australia Day events kicking off annually since 2014, complete with slope-side lamingtons and Tim Tams and complimentary Vegemite on toast for breakfast.
Here’s why Aspen makes sense for Aussie searching for ski holidays this upcoming season.
Ease of access
Aussies have long been number one for international visitors to Aspen, thanks to it being one of the most accessible Rocky Mountain destinations (even if you don’t have a private jet like many of the skiers and boarders there).
You can fly to Los Angeles, Dallas or San Francisco from Australia, then connect directly to the slopeside airport of Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) – just 4.8km from Aspen, an easy 10 minute drive.
Deals just for Aussies
The SKI30 pass offers unlimited skiing and riding for 30 consecutive days for less than the price of a seven-day ticket. All you have to do is book at least seven nights of lodging through a preferred tour operator before October 31.
There’s also the SKI10 deal, exclusive to the Aussie market, where you can ski 10 days for less than the price of six days.
As an added bonus, both SKI30 and SKI10 unlock additional savings for Ski & Snowboard School lessons, Four Mountain Sports rentals, and lodging. And kids up to 12 ski free with a ski hire package.
You’ll never get bored of the mountains
One lift ticket covers four different mountains, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. There’s a whopping 5500 acres of terrain to discover across all four of them, which should keep you pretty busy during your stay.
Aspen Mountain is the original ski area, where the first lift was installed in 1946. Plus ski Aspen Highlands, where the locals flock for the steep and deep; Buttermilk, home to the X Games, where Aussies Scotty James and Torah Bright have won gold; and Snowmass, which has everything from wide-open glades to rock gardens and huge steeps.
All up, you’ll find 332 trails here with some up to eight kilometres long, and famous bucket list spots such as the hike-to Highland Bowl.
And take note for future trips; there’s new terrain coming up for the 23/24 season. Pandora’s will open 22% more skiable terrain on the upper, eastern aspects of Aspen Mountain. The area will be accessed via a high-speed quad with 370 vertical metres of groomed trails and glades.
The ski town that offers it all
The authenticity of the town’s ski history runs deep in Aspen; after all, this isn’t a purpose-built destination. The rustic mining history means those who once arrived to chase the silver ore stayed to chase the snow.
Burberry and Moncler share streets with cool thrift stores and bookstores. World class restaurants and quirky bars filled with locals and famous faces you may spot along the way.
The unique offerings
It’s not just dining in town that you should add to your Aspen bucket list. This season, Aspen is welcoming back Full Moon Uphill Dinners to Buttermilk, held at Cliffhouse on evenings of the in-season full moons (January 6, February 5 and March 7, 2023).
Participants can uphill or hike up Buttermilk and enjoy sunset drinks by the fire pit, food from Cliffhouse favorites like Mongolian Grill, and a ski down under the light of the full moon. Sounds like an unforgettable evening to us.
The fun events – and après
Aussies love a drink. Aspen-ites love a drink. You see how it’s a match made in heaven – especially when it comes to dancing on tables in ski boots?
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is famous for on-mountain long lunches at 10,900 feet. With champagne free-flowing, it’s the rowdiest party this side of the Rockies – there’s even ski patrol on-hand to ensure everyone gets back down in one piece.
In 2023, the events and après are set to pump up another level. Aspen Snowmass is hosting the international community for World Cup racing in 2023. This is HUGE, with Men’s Super-G and Downhill events taking place when the world’s best ski racers will descend upon Aspen Snowmass for the elite competition – and you can be there with the best in from March 3-5, 2023.
It’s beyond family-friendly
There’s all the ski-in, ski-out lodging in Snowmass, making it much easier to get the kids hustled out the door.
Or all the little on-mountain touches, such as adventure trails at Buttermilk and Snowmass; or Elk Camp with its alpine coaster and tubing lanes during the day, and Ullr Nights by night, a weekly party with a bonfire, s’mores and live music.
The little ones may never wish to leave The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center at Snowmass, complete with Colorado-themed play rooms.
And there’s improvements happening all the time. Buttermilk, for example, has had a $23m makeover with a 100% electric skier services building, creating a sustainable and intuitive one-stop shop for guests to purchase tickets, dial in gear rentals, shop, and relax in the lounge.