HALF MOON BAY, Calif., March 21, 2012—If awesome skiing and boarding opportunities, a swanky après-ski scene, cozy romance, or a wealth of family activities are what come to mind when you think of Aspen, don’t think the winter’s over just yet. There’s still a chance to get some quality snow time in the next few weeks.
Aside from the breathtaking scenery in any season, among the greatest attractions are Aspen’s four mountains: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. Each has its specific lure for different levels of skiers and snowboarders, so it’s always possible to find a spot that fits your style. An extra benefit is that you only need one lift ticket to mix it up between the quadruple peaks.
Even if you’re not a skier, outdoor activities abound in winter at the resorts. Get a dose of history, ecology and wildlife education when you join a naturalist with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) on a snowshoe tour at Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, or the ghost town of Ashcroft. The tours are open to ages 7 and over. More family fun is available at the Aspen Ice Garden, where there’s ample public skating time.
If snowshoeing and skating are too tame, try a backcountry adventure with Aspen Expeditions, which offers ice climbing, fitness ski tours and hut trips. Get some sweet air time above your friends on the slopes on a tandem paragliding trip with Aspen Paragliding. Back on the ground, a dog’s-eye view of the area is available with Krabloonik dog-sledding tours—complete with a live soundtrack of excited, howling canines.
Hang around for closing day at the four resorts and get a bit of season-ending party time in. Closing day for Buttermilk is April 8, with the Red Bull rail jam and DJ Z-Trip. April 15 is closing day at both Snowmass and Aspen Mountain. The final event for the season is April 22, when Aspen Highlands closes. Continue the party with some music at Belly Up, right in the middle of Aspen. With a capacity of 450, it’s possible to feel close to the stage even from the back of the room.
Closing parties and cool concerts are enough to temporarily take your mind off having to put away the ski gear for a few months. But the seasons go quickly. Before you know it, it’ll be time to plan more winter fun in Aspen.
Where to stay
There are a variety of hotels in the Aspen/Snowmass area, from high-end luxury to lower-budget simplicity. Some favorites from my recent trip:
Viceroy Snowmass. This ski-in, ski-out luxury resort is right in Base Village at Snowmass. When you take a break from the slopes, you can watch right from the pool terrace. Even better, treat yourself to some quality time in the 7,000 square-foot spa.
Hotel Jerome. For a little bit of history mixed in with luxury and great service, check in to this hotel in Aspen. Don’t miss a stop at the J-Bar, where you can order a refreshing (yet strange-sounding) Aspen Crud. When it’s time to go out, the complimentary shuttle service is one of the best ways to get around town.
Sky Hotel. If you’re looking for a hip hotel right near the Aspen Mountain gondola, this is the spot. The hotel’s 39 Degrees Lounge is one of the après-ski hotspots in town. It’s not always rocking 24 hours a day—there’s also plenty of room to relax and chill out.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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