Waking up slopeside in Aspen, Colorado is like waking up on Christmas morning—but with sun-kissed mountains, crisp air, and piles of pristine powder waiting for you to dive in.
When Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke founded Aspen Skiing Company, they reinvented the region as a place where people could escape their daily grind, be exposed to new ideas, and return home, inspired to create a better world. It’s with this spirit that we visited Aspen Snowmass for a stint of epic downhill skiing, back country adventures, and breathtaking vistas to fuel our world-changing ambitions back home.
You can fly directly to Aspen from almost anywhere in the U.S., but if you’re not in a rush and are looking to save a few bucks, most airports offer quick stopovers connecting to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. Thirty minutes before landing, open your window: sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains are a preview of what’s to come. From there, you are within minutes of world-class mountains, powdery ski runs, and a thriving downtown center. Many hotels provide free shuttle service to and from the airport so you don’t have to worry about transportation upon arrival.
Aspen is home to several ski villages at the base of Snowmass Mountain, as well a bustling downtown area with high-end dining, shopping, and nightlife. We especially loved that approximately 95 percent of the lodging offers ski in/ski out service, so you never have to lug your equipment far.
We joined the Alister & Paine Magazine team at both the Timberline Condominiums in Snowmass and the luxurious slopeside rooms at The Little Nell in Aspen. For the purposes of our review, we will be focusing on the Timberline Condominiums, but be sure to check out the luxury mountain lifestyle of The Little Nell, over at Alister & Paine.
The Timberline Condos are a perfect place for large groups looking for an economical slopeside experience. Timberline offers a variety of deluxe condominium suites — from studios and lofts, to three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartments. Timberline is also located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Aspen Snowmass area, with views of Snowmass valley and ski runs just outside your window.
Situated at the base of Snowmass mountain, Timberline has everything you could ever want from a mountainside accommodation. Our three-bedroom suite boasted great views of the valley, with Snowmass mountain just a few short steps from the private balcony. The room was also equipped with a gas fireplace and was only a short walk to the Jacuzzi soaking hot tubs—perfect for winding down after a long day on the mountain. The staff was also warm and inviting, catering to anything you might need.
We chose to split our time between Snowmass and Aspen Mountains on the heels of a major blizzard. That meant we got first tracks—or, untouched ski runs—on our first day out.
Next, the Alister & Paine adventure travel team arranged a full day of Powder Cat Skiing, in which our own private Snow Cat vehicle drove us throughout untouched back country for deep powder skiing. The tour includes two expert mountain guides, more than 10 fresh powder runs through freshly covered meadows and glades, and a gourmet lunch served in a private mountain hut deep within Aspen’s back country.
Experiencing both the Aspen and Snowmass mountains gave our team a full picture of the region’s vast range of ski experiences, each equally rich in its own way. We recommend that anyone coming to Aspen should check out both mountains for twice as much fun.
To equip our ski adventure, we partnered with the experts at GetOutfitted, which operates the world’s largest outdoor gear closet and ships premium equipment right to your destination. Recently, they implemented a new onsie rental program, which allows skiers to rent eccentric vintage onesies—uncovered from local thrift shops—for a good cause.
The truth is that while the ski industry offers a great way for people to enjoy the outdoors, booming tourism in places like Aspen come at a cost to the environment, due to high water use, wildlife disturbance, and soil erosion. To help raise awareness, GetOutfitted donates 20 percent of the proceeds from each onesie rental to environmental conservation efforts. Now that’s what we call saving the planet in style!
Onesie packages start at $25 per day and include a onesie, goggles, and gloves. The onesies range in size and are made by brands like Obermeyer, Descente, and The North Face. As with all GetOutfitted rentals, the gear arrives pristinely packaged and ready for you to hit the slopes. When you’re done, simply ship it back in the box it came in with the provided label.
In order to make sure that people will be able to enjoy Aspen’s natural beauty for decades to come, the Aspen Snowmass community realizes it cannot only prioritize profit; it also has to do its part in solving climate change and preserving the local environment.
The Environment Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural habitat, ecosystems, and biodiversity that the Aspen community depends upon. In recent years, for example, the foundation provided a leading grant to the Trust for Public Land to help protect the High Elk Corridor, a strip of land that runs between two wildlife reserves from Aspen to Crested Butte that is in danger of being developed.
In the 18 years that the foundation has been in operation, it has donated more than $2,700,000 to similar projects, with an emphasis on those that target the root cause of environmental problems and have a commitment to long-term change.
Our team left Aspen exhilarated and wind burnt. The crisp, cool air and dizzying drops are enough to convince anyone of the appeal behind a Colorado ski trip. But Aspen’s wild, snow-covered landscape—which retains a distinct unfettered feeling, thanks to the area’s commitment to eco-activism—inspired us to lose ourselves in the thrill of unwrapping new experiences, while still in good conscience.