Winter has come to Aspen Snowmass and, as the resort's quartet of mountains head into the 2022-2023 season, much of buzz is about a transformation at easy-going Buttermilk.
Construction this summer brought an aging, clunky base area into the 21st century. A new 9,300-square-foot building consolidates tickets, rentals, ski school and bathrooms into a single skier services center. The former Bumps lodge restaurant got a makeover -- including locker room update -- and a new name (Buttermilk Mountain Lodge), and an expanded outdoor patio called The Backyard.
Mountain officials say the work aims to simplify the area and make the slopes for approachable and inclusive for all guests. However, the finishing touches of the $26 million Buttermilk makeover will bleed past the opening of the season, so skiers and riders should expect temporary facilities for a month or two.
Opened in 1958, Buttermilk has long lived up to its name as the smooth, gentle, non-competitive place to ski and ride in the Aspen complex. Its ski school and learning terrain is renowned. Resort publicists called it "the home of non-stop recess" and the trail map reflects that: Nearly 75% of the runs are green- or blue-rated.
Over at iconic Aspen Mountain, the World Cup returns to the famous America's Downhill course in March, after a six-year hiatus. Two downhills and a super-G are scheduled for the first weekend in March.
The resort's first major expansion in 40 years -- Pandora -- won't be open this season. Located to skier's right off the summit of Ajax Mountain, the new area will add 160 acres to the mountain's existing 673 skiable acres. A high-speed chairlift will service the new area, which will open expert glades and a couple of blue groomers.
Both Snowmass and Aspen Highlands will stand pat this season, as far as on-mountain additions. Both received high ratings for their wine dinners, and Snowmass has added a bear-and-pretzel option to its apres-ski menu. The Ikon Pass works at all four mountains.
Spring break is upon us which, sadly, means the end is near. But it's still snowing and, with the right conditions, there should be plenty of powder to track up.
Since Covid-19 hit, ski industry moguls have danced around what next season will look like. But at Aspen Snowmass, pressure from locals and media has brought some of management's ideas into the open.
If conditions allow at all levels — within the state, Pitkin County and the snowpack — Aspen Skiing Co. hopes it can safely reopen Aspen Highlands at some point during May.
“We’ve been pretty upfront with it all along,” SkiCo’s vice president of communications Jeff Hanle said via phone Wednesday afternoon, “that we’re going to try to maintain the ability to open Highlands very late season if we are given the go-ahead that we can do it, if the conditions are decent and good, and if we can open [Highlands] with a plan that keeps our employees and our guests safe at the direction of the county health and state health.”
First it was Tahoe, where a record-breaking February prompted most resorts to extend their seasons deeper into the spring. Now it's March, and it's Colorado's turn.
The days are getting longer, it's daylight savings time and the snow is softening: Spring is on the way, and that means it's festival time at ski resorts all across SnoCountry.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a gourmet meal after a long day on the slopes, and a number of Rocky Mountain resorts spice up the experience with a snowcat ride for on-mountain dining.
SnoCountry put out a call for some of the best “sleigh-ride” meals in the Rockies and came up with a sample listing.
Many ski and snowboard resorts in the West rely upon a nearby town that is base for food, lodging and off-slope fun, so SnoCountry took a look at three well-known towns that act as hubs for the mountains that surround them.
The White Bear at Deer Valley. (Deer Valley)
Whether you love powder or corduroy, groomers or trees, one of the best treats after a day on the snow is an après-ski cocktail. SnoCountry.com did some tough research and discovered some of our favorite signature resort cocktails.
Kayak racing at Monarch (Monarch/Facebook)
As the end of another season is in sight, Colorado skiers and snowboarders go a little crazy knowing that they will soon have to find another way to fulfill their mountain jones. Such anxiety translates into a number of wacky spring traditions.
Beyond pond skimming and beer guzzlin', SnoCountry took a look around the high country of the Centennial State and came up with a sampling of the off-beat, unconventional ways to celebrate both the end of the season and the beginning of spring.
Eldora. Denver's neighborhood mountain has made a habit of returning to its roots every spring. The annual Eldora Retro Days kick off April 1-2 with folks digging through their closets for throwback skiing outfits – “onesie” powder suits, neon headbands, ski bibs, outrageous sunglasses. The resort is set to close the next weekend, and retro gear dominates the final week.
Monarch. The southern Colorado mountain combines its vernal celebration with the upcoming river boating season on the Arkansas River with its annual Kayaks on Snow race April 15. Adventurous paddlers navigate berms, banks and bumps before splashing into the traditional icy pond. The next day, April 16, is the last day of the season with a sendoff cookoff and tailgate party in the parking lot.
Loveland. At a mountain that doesn't plan to close until May, the party begins a month early with the "world's highest cornhole competition" April 1. Skiers and riders will form two-person teams and ride up Chair 1 to the Continental Divide. From there, they will toss bean bags into a hole at 12,700 feet – on hopes of setting a Guinness World Record for the activity.
Aspen Highlands. April 9 is closing day and, to finish off the season, the ninth annual Schneetag race goes full bore. Four-man teams build a "craft" that will slide down the main slope and across a small pond at the bottom. At the top, they perform a skit to exemplify the theme of their craft. Winners choose from a list of prizes.
Spring may be taking hold where you live, but numerous resorts will continue to spin the lift this weekend … and well into May.
A brief verbal confrontation on an Aspen Highlands chairlift apparently led to an Aspen man allegedly pushing a snowboarder off the lift in January.
New lifts and trails often get the headlines during the off-season, but much of this summer’s work in Colorado centers around lodges, base facilities and restaurants.
The Aspen Skiing Co. announced that Aspen Highlands will reopen for the weekend of April 27 and April 28. Aspen Highlands was originally scheduled to shut down for the season on April 21 but SkiCo brass said they are going to reopen the mountain the following weekend "in appreciation of skiers and riders for a great season."