Aspen started life as a mining camp, with hardy pioneering types mining silver in the Colorado mountains. When the price of silver collapsed, so did the town, which went into a steady decline until ski-tourism was invented. In a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, spurred on by celebrity endorsed 1970s counter culture, Aspen is now a playground for the rich and famous. Aspen real estate is amongst the most expensive in theUSA, and increasingly any middle income property owners are being pushed out of town by multi million dollar second home buyers. In the town centre you’re more likely to find an art gallery or a Gucci shop than anything as practical as a ski shop. Depending on your outlook, this might all sound a bit bleak and shallow, but actually Aspen is a charming town with excellent facilities, proud and helpful locals and staff, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy it all.
image courtesy of www.aspensnowmass.com
Aspen nightlife, on the whole, is sophisticated rather than raucous, with plenty of expensive bars and a few theme-style pubs, and a few night clubs. 39 Degrees, a bar in the Sky Hotel, is the place to be seen for après ski, but expect expensive cocktails and fur trimmed Prada ski jackets rather than beers and burgers (although these are available).
Aspen is divided into four distinct skiing areas: Snowmass; Aspen Mountain; Aspen Highlands; and Buttermilk. Buttermilk hosts an enormous terrain park, which is good for two reasons: 1. It’s a world class facility for the brave souls who like getting big air, and; 2. If you like your skiing to be more traditional, Buttermilk effectively concentrates all the gnarlier skiers in one place, leaving the other three areas free for your old school skiing. Between them the other three areas offer a very wide range of skiing, from easy cruisers to steep moguls, however it’s fair to say that Aspen is more about whizzing down the long, sweeping, and very well maintained pistes rather than big mountain steeps and deeps. The lifts are new and fast, and the combined effect of altitude and geography means that Aspen is very snow sure. The real draw of Aspen is the combination of the very wide range of skiing with the proximity of a charming, wealthy town which oozes American history.