Look no further — one of the finest sustainable mountain destinations in the magnificent Rockies.
by Deirdre Frost
Alluring Mountain Setting
One of the most sought out destinations to enjoy skiing and world class amenities is no other than Aspen, Colorado. High in the Rockies, this getaway piqued our interest not only for experiencing some of the finest skiing in North America, but also for its environmental “green” initiatives and sustainability.
Noted as one of the most sustainable mountain resort destinations, Aspen is committed in taking a leading role in conservation and environmental stewardship. For these reasons, we chose to visit this pristine and unspoiled place and experience sustainable mountain living. Uniquely situated in a high-alpine environment, Aspen is a town with contrasts. The spectacular beauty of the scenery surrounding Aspen is offset by the challenge of adjusting to the high altitude of the town itself. For some individuals (including us), it’s daunting with Aspen having some the highest elevations in the Rockies, reaching above 11,000-12,000 feet above sea level. Yet, this mountainous terrain creates a pleasant alpine climate with low humidity and year-round sunshine.
The whole area known as Aspen Snowmass is comprised of four mountain areas extending out three miles west from Aspen Mountain to Aspen Highlands, followed almost immediately by Buttermilk. A further 10 miles to the west is the popular ski area, Snowmass, which is the largest of the three mountains.
All four mountain areas are committed to
Protecting the environment through a variety of initiatives that include increasing the use of renewables, developing low-carbon generating projects and implementing energy efficient programs.
This setting provides a grand mountain retreat that seems far away from city life. In the first few days of our visit, we meet young professionals and ski enthusiasts who think nothing of travelling thirty-two hours by car to reach the hallow slopes of Aspen Mountain.
Visitors from all parts of the world come looking for pleasure and excitement in this premier mountain destination. Watching skiers plunge down the steep terrain of Aspen Mountain known as Ajax, we could only imagine the adrenalin rush as they tackle the gnarly terrain. Not wanting to miss this action, we decide to ski at Snowmass.
Early morning, we are ready to conquer the mountain. At times, its like we’re providing a performance with perhaps a couple hundred people spectating and critiquing from the gondola. The gondola is high enough for good viewing for riders and low enough for skiers to recognize their fellow companions.
Silver Mining Town
As an old mining town, Aspen started at the foot of the famous Mountain after which it was named. Its mining history can be traced back to a series of steep double-black chutes on Aspen Mountain. Names like Face of Bell, Zaugg Dump, and Last Dollar are reminiscent of the days when old-time miners tunneled their way into the mountain and left piles of debris near the runs.
Apart from its glory days as a mining town, Aspen is a classic ski resort that attracts celebrities and stylish skiers who like to be seen wearing dazzling gold and silver designer ski clothes and jeweled ski helmets. It is not unusual to see some other individuals wearing high quality Western apparel and wide brimmed cowboy hats. These elaborately-dressed people like to frequent famous haunts, such as the iconic Hotel Jerome or The St. Regis Aspen Resort.
With so many luxury shops and designer fashion boutiques in Aspen and Snowmass, it’s a shopping paradise. Strolling around the town is a favorite pastime and it is delightful to browse in the boutiques and enjoy the chic restaurants and bars.
Whether it’s wood-fired pizza, vegan taco, or sizzling steak, we found that Aspen appeals to all kinds of tastes, offering varied gastronomic delights and high-end options too. For healthy eating, try Pyramid Bistro in the West End which offer vegan specialties including Curry Bowl red quinoa, zucchini, and cremini mushrooms. Also try the Hickory House, which lived up to its reputation of having the “best ribs in Colorado”.
Just about anywhere in Aspen, there are dramatic mountain views. For lodgings, we had great choices in Aspen, ranging from high-end hotels to fully-equipped condominiums and rental properties. At Snowmass, some of the top resorts offer ski-in, ski-out facilities not far from the base lodges.
St. Moritz Lodge & Condominiums
In the center of Aspen, off W. Hyman Street, St. Moritz Lodge is a short walk to all the resort’s shops, bars and restaurants.
This Swiss styled chalet provides an authentic Old World feel, but is well-equipped with modern facilities that include an outdoor heated pool and complimentary Wi-Fi. The inn’s convenience to Aspen Mountain makes it an attractive option and they have a wide range of accommodations from luxury condominiums to affordable rooms with magnificent views of the towering Shadow Mountain.
A rustic, family-styled ski house, Annabelle Inn is a well-furnished lodge that is ideally located in the center of town.
The inn’s décor is full of character, featuring a collection of vintage skis and ski boots that have been well-kept by the owners. The inn feels like a family ski lodge with some of the inn’s beautiful furnishings removed, according to owner, Dennis Chookaszian, due to Covid. But what prevails is the friendly ambiance that makes this inn a great place to stay.
In the heart of Snowmass Village, The Timberline is a well-appointed resort that offers all the comforts of home and amenities, including ski-in/ski-out, outdoor heated pool and hot tub.
One of the best features is that the welcoming relaxed atmosphere that is ideal for families and couples. Its complimentary shuttle service provides easy access to Snowmass and Aspen Airport. The inn’s Edge Restaurant is one of the top three restaurants that offers hearty alpine-inspired cuisine in the Village.
Overlooking the scenic mountain scenery of Snowmass, The Westin Spa offers an array of body treatments, massages and facials that can be soothing and relaxing after a hard day of skiing. Guests have the option to enjoy massages in the privacy of their own rooms while staying at the hotel.
Staying in Aspen provides exciting happenings and opportunities for enjoying outdoor activities and feeling invigorated by the wild and remote mountain surroundings.
Know before you go …
Aspen Snowmass: aspensnowmass.com for weather reports, lift status, webcams, traffic details and local event listings.
Aspen Snowmass App: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/aspen-snowmass-app/mobile-app
Aspen Snowmass Twitter @AspenSnowmass
Four Mountain Sports – (970) 925-1220; https://www.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/ski-and-snowboard-rentals
The Timberline Condominiums – Tel: (970) 923-4000; https://www.thetimberline.com/
Annabelle Inn – Tel: (970) 925-3822; (877) 266-2466; www.annabelleinn.com
The Edge Restaurant & Bar – (970) 923-4004; www.theedgesnowmass.com
Pyramid Bistro – (970) 925-5338; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hickory House – (970) 925-2313; www.HickoryHouseRibs.com
The Westin Snowmass Resort Spa – (970) 923-8296; westin.com/Snowmass