Tucked away in the Brush Creek Valley, just nine miles away from downtown Aspen lies Snowmass Village. While you may know the world-famous Rocky Mountain ski town for its legendary slopes, the summer season is just as spectacular. Incredible mountain views, warm days and crisp nights, tons of outdoor activities, and now, new and improved thrilling adventures beckon families to come and stay a while. We ventured up the trail to see what’s new and what’s just plain cool in this year-round-playground of a mountain town. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know.
The Lost Forest
Located at Elk Camp at Aspen Snowmass mid-mountain, the new activity center is a bustling center for adventurists as old eight or nine. There’s the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, which takes you slowly up the mountainside in a luge-like car and shoots you down a 5700-foot track at speeds of up to 28 miles per hour with hairpin turns and twists through the trees that’ll have you shouting with laughter.
There’s the brand-new (Jun. 2018) Canopy Run Zipline, a three-hour tour that includes sky bridges, rappels, and eight zip lines, of which the final two are 90 feet above the valley floor. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, you’ll make your way to multiple platforms built amongst into the trees, and zip your way down the mountain. Insider Tip: Kids must be 70+ lbs to participate, there are no bathroom breaks and you’ll end up zipping at speeds up to 45 mph, so this incredible, adrenaline-pumping activity is recommended for the hearty adventurer.
The Treeline Trail Challenge Course is also brand new (Jun. 2018). You and your crew will be up to 40 feet in the air, and have the option of tackling five different routes: they come in beginner, medium and difficult levels.
Still to come is the Rugged Ascent Climbing Wall, a 40-foot-tall challenge with 50 routes and 14 auto belays designed by El Dorado Climbing Wall Company, to open in August 2018.
New Biking Trails
Grab your bike and head for the trail! Snowmass is a world leader in mountain biking, and over 80 miles of trails are a testament to that claim. There are paved trails that connect riders to the Rio Grande Trail (over 40 miles of trail), the Snowmass Bike Park, which is located on Snowmass Ski Area, and the new 4.8 miles of trail that connect riders from Elk Camp mid-mountain to the new expert jump trail that can be found lower on the mountain. Visit bikesnowmass.com for detailed info and ride planning.
Fun in Snowmass Village
Not a mountainside thrill seeker? There’s plenty of fun for you, too. From the 80+ miles of hiking trails for all levels to horseback riding with views of the famous Maroon Bells and a visit to the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center, you’ll have a full day planned in no time.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center
The world-renowned non-profit is a destination for artists and creative folk and was founded in 1966. On its five acres of beautiful grounds, eight different mediums are offered: sculpture, textiles, woodworking, photography and more.
There are seminars, summer day camps, film screenings every Wednesday, a delightful cafeteria serving fresh, healthy fare, a monthly dinner and art auction and more. Kids camp activities include exciting programs like Trash to Treasure, Jump Into Jewelry!, and Garden Party, to name a few. Get more details by visiting andersonranch.org
Up the mountain from Base Camp lies Snowmass Mall. This is where you’ll find the Snowmass Free Concert Series on Fanny Hill, a 27-year-old tradition in Snowmass Village and Fridays on the Mall (new in 2018!), where you’ll find music, extended business hours, local artisans selling their wares, food and drink specials and even s’more! There are shops to explore and The Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center to visit, where kids can learn about the Mammoths and Mastodons which once called this high-mountain range home.
The Snowmass Rodeo is celebrating 45 years in 2018 and is the oldest rodeo in the state of Colorado. Occurring every Wednesday, near the Snowmass Rec Center, you can find bucking Broncos, barrel-riding cowgirls, and even mutton busting for the kids (they ride sheep in the arena!). Complete with “cattle” for kids to wrangle, bouncy houses and BBQ, the rodeo is a beloved local tradition.
Farm to Table Tuesdays
On Tuesday nights until Aug. 21, take the Elk Camp Gondola to mid-mountain for extended summer fun. A farm-to-table a la carte menu is served up alongside a full bar and breathtaking views of the mountain. There are toys for kids, cornhole for anyone, and the Lost Forest is open late so you can snag one last ride on the Alpine Coaster.
There’s always something fun happening in Snowmass during the summer months. Things like Yoga on the Mountain (Jul. 27-29), Zoppe Italian Family Circus (Aug. 17-19) and the Snowmass Balloon Festival (Sept. 7-9) are all family-friendly events that draw a crowd year after year.
What to Eat
There are over 30 restaurants in Snowmass Village. Choose between sushi, Latin American, American, BBQ, Italian, baked goods, pizza and all kinds of grab-and-go options. Especially noteworthy is the seasonal menu at The Artisan in Stonebridge Inn. Executive Chef Steven Sterritt offers a delicious seasonal menu and fun drink specials that are the perfect start to a summer evening.
If you want to stay at home and cook, head to Clark’s Market, which is a full-service grocery store that offers everything from mac and cheese to cold brew coffee. And, the best part? More than 20 Snowmass restaurants offer special kids’ menus that’ll please even the pickiest eaters. Visit VIKSnowmass.com for a complete list of menus.
Where to Stay
Whether you want a five-star hotel experience or a condo with a full kitchen, Snowmass Village has lodging for all types of travelers. With a $600-million dollar renovation in progress, with several spots to open in Nov. 2018, there’ll soon be even more space to visit.
The five-star hotel completed a $4-million dollar renovation in 2017. Inside, there’s the all-new Toro Latin Kitchen by Richard Sandoval and a redesigned main lobby with coffee bar. Outside, the pool area has two new spas and the re-vamped restaurant, Nest. Rates start at $290 per night, check the website for more details.
Destination Residences Snowmass
Over 400 rentals are managed by Destination Residences in Snowmass Village. That includes Top of the Village two-and three-room condos, boutique hotel rooms in the Stonebridge Inn and Villas at Snowmass Club. Check out all their listings at destinationhotels.com/snowmass
Limelight and Public Events Plaza – Opening Fall 2018
As part of the Snowmass Base Village renovation, the Limelight is a 99-room hotel with 11 private residences with direct access to the slopes and the brand-new Public Events Plaza and community building. The Limelight will also be an attraction in its own right, with a restaurant, kids’ space in the lobby and a five-story climbing wall that’s located inside a glass tower on the front of the hotel—the tallest of its kind in Colorado.
With an ice skating rink in the winter, lawn in the summer, pop-up fountains, fire pits, outdoor concerts, pop-up play for kids and more, the Plaza (Nov. 2018) will be a gathering place for tourist and locals alike.
Plan Your Stay
— Gabby Cullen
Note: This trip was paid for by Snowmass Village Tourism, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.
photos by Gabby Cullen unless noted otherwise.