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15 Fun Things To Do In Aspen In the Winter Season

Things to do in Aspen in the winter - Snowy slopes in Aspen, perfect for skiing and winter activities.


With so many amazing things to do in Aspen in the winter season, I, as a long-time admirer of its charm, have compiled the most comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your 2024 winter getaway.

This stunning Rocky Mountain destination offers an unforgettable winter wonderland experience for every type of traveler, from world-class skiing to unique cultural experiences. Let me share my personal insights, tips, and recommendations to ensure you have an incredible time in Aspen this winter season.

Conquer Aspen’s Four Incredible Ski Mountains

The municipality of Aspen in Colorado is renowned for its four spectacular ski mountains, which offer unique experiences for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect on each mountain:

MountainDifficulty LevelNotable Features
Aspen Mountain (Ajax)Intermediate to AdvancedChallenging terrain, stunning views of the town, 675 acres of skiable area, 76 trails, 8 lifts
Aspen HighlandsAdvancedHighland Bowl, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, 1,040 acres of skiable area, 144 trails, 5 lifts
ButtermilkBeginner to IntermediateWide-open groomers, Winter X Games venue, 470 acres of skiable area, 44 trails, 8 lifts
SnowmassAll levelsDiverse terrain, 3,342 acres of skiable area, 98 trails, 20 lifts, 3 terrain parks

If you’re looking for more adventurous activities in Colorado, be sure to check out Ferrata routes and other thrilling treks.

1. Experience the Thrill of Aspen Mountain (Ajax)

Aspen Mountain, known locally as Ajax, is a favorite among experienced skiers. With an elevation of 11,212 feet and no beginner runs, Ajax offers 675 acres of challenging terrain spread across 76 trails.

You won’t want to miss skiing legendary runs like Walsh’s, Kristi’s, and Ruthie’s. These runs are steep, with plenty of moguls and glades to keep you on your toes.

For an unforgettable experience, book a First Tracks tour ($259 per person) with the Aspen Skiing Company for exclusive early morning access before the lifts open to the public. You’ll enjoy fresh powder and pristine corduroy while watching the sunrise over the stunning Elk Mountains. It’s a breathtaking way to start your day on the slopes.

2. Explore the Challenging Terrain of Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands is a paradise for advanced skiers and snowboarders, boasting 1,040 acres of skiable terrain across 144 trails. The famous Highland Bowl, accessed by a 30-45 minute hike or a 10-minute snowcat ride ($55 per person), offers some of the most challenging and rewarding terrain in North America.

With a summit elevation of 12,392 feet, the Highland Bowl provides an exhilarating experience for those willing to put in the effort. The steep, open terrain is a true test of your skills, but the views from the top are simply incredible.

After conquering the bowl, celebrate at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, known for its lively après-ski parties and champagne showers. Indulge in delectable raclette and fondue while taking in the breathtaking mountain views. It’s the perfect way to toast your accomplishments on the mountain.

3. Enjoy Family-Friendly Fun at Buttermilk

Buttermilk is ideal for beginners and families, offering 470 acres of wide-open groomers and a friendly atmosphere. With 44 trails and 8 lifts, it provides a relaxed skiing experience for those just starting out or looking to improve their skills. The gentle slopes and spacious runs make it easy to practice your turns and build confidence in the snow.

Buttermilk also hosts the annual Winter X Games, showcasing the world’s best freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Don’t miss the chance to see these elite athletes push the boundaries of their sports in the 22-foot superpipe and on the slopestyle course (January 25-28, 2024).

4. Discover the Diverse Terrain of Snowmass

Snowmass is the largest of the four mountains, offering an incredible 3,342 acres of diverse terrain for all skill levels. With 98 trails, 20 chairlifts, and three terrain parks, it has something for everyone. From wide-open groomers to challenging glades and bumps, Snowmass offers a variety of terrain to suit every taste.

For a unique dining experience, make a reservation at the Lynn Britt Cabin for a gourmet meal in a cozy, rustic setting. The evening begins with a magical snowcat ride under the stars, followed by a delectable four-course meal featuring locally-sourced ingredients ($175 per person).

As you savor each bite, you’ll be surrounded by the fireplace’s warm glow and the good company of your fellow diners. It’s an intimate and unforgettable way to cap off a day on the slopes.

Things to Do In Aspen in the Winter Beyond the Slopes

A family enjoying ice skating together, a fun thing to do in Aspen during winter.

While conquering Aspen’s four incredible ski mountains is a must, there are plenty of other things to do in Aspen in the winter for those seeking a break from the slopes or looking for alternative activities. From cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to ice skating and dog sledding, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the beauty of Aspen’s winter wonderland.

5. Snowshoe or Cross-Country Ski Through Aspen’s Backcountry

Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Aspen’s backcountry on snowshoes or cross-country skis. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) offers guided snowshoe tours ($85 per person) on top of Aspen Mountain.

With ACES, you’ll learn about the local ecology and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Your knowledgeable guide will point out animal tracks and share fascinating facts about the winter landscape.

For cross-country skiing enthusiasts, the Aspen Nordic Center offers 60 miles of meticulously groomed trails suitable for all levels. Take a lesson with a professional instructor ($85 for a 1-hour private lesson) to refine your technique, or explore the trails on your own at your own pace.

6. Go Ice Skating or Play Hockey at Aspen’s Outdoor Rinks

Lace up your skates and glide across the ice at one of Aspen’s picturesque outdoor rinks. The Silver Circle Ice Rink in downtown Aspen is one of the best romantic cities for activities like skating sessions under the twinkling lights (admission is $10, and skate rentals are $5).

As you circle the rink hand-in-hand with your loved one, you’ll feel like you’re in a scene from a holiday movie. For a more competitive experience, join a pickup hockey game at the Aspen Ice Garden (admission is $15, and stick and puck rentals are available). This indoor rink hosts regular games for players of all skill levels, so you can show off your slap shot or just enjoy the camaraderie of playing with new friends.

7. Participate in a Thrilling Snowmobile Adventure

Experience the thrill of exploring Aspen’s pristine backcountry on a guided snowmobile tour. T-Lazy-7 Ranch offers tours ($250 per person for a 2-hour tour) that cater to all experience levels. These tours allow you to discover stunning terrain and spot local wildlife like elk and bighorn sheep.

The experienced guides provide all the needed gear and instructions to ensure safety and an enjoyable adventure. As you zoom through the powdery meadows and wind your way through the forested trails, you’ll feel a rush of excitement and freedom that’s hard to match.

8. Experience the Magic of Dog Sledding

If you’re traveling with your family, take your kids on a magical dog sled ride through the snow-covered forests with Krabloonik Dogsledding. Their guided tours ($250 per adult, $150 per child for a 1-hour tour) offer a unique opportunity to learn about the history of this traditional mode of transportation while bonding with friendly huskies.

As you settle into the sled, the dogs will be eager to run, their tails wagging with excitement. Once the musher gives the command, you’ll be off, gliding through the silent forest as the dogs work together in perfect harmony. Here, you’ll hear stories about the dogs and their role in Aspen’s history, giving you a deeper appreciation for this incredible experience.

Immerse Yourself in Aspen’s Vibrant Cultural Scene

The Aspen Art Museum is an innovative wooden structure to explore on winter days.

Do you think that the things to do in Aspen in the winter are always about outdoor adventures? Aspen also boasts a vibrant cultural scene with world-class events and performances. From contemporary art to live music and comedy, there’s always something exciting happening in this mountain town.

9. Visit the Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum is a must-visit for art lovers, offering free admission and showcasing contemporary art from around the world. The museum’s unique architecture is a work of art itself, featuring a woven wood screen exterior and a glass roof that allows natural light to flood the galleries.

As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll encounter thought-provoking pieces that challenge your perceptions and inspire new ways of seeing the world. The museum also offers various educational programs and events, including artist talks, workshops, and film screenings.

10. Witness Performances at the Wheeler Opera House

The historic Wheeler Opera House is the cultural heart of Aspen. It hosts a diverse lineup of performances, including music, comedy, dance, and film. This beautifully restored Victorian-era theater provides an intimate and elegant setting for experiencing the arts.

Don’t miss the Aspen Laugh Festival (February 18-23, 2024), which brings together top comedians nationwide for a week of side-splitting performances. You’ll laugh until your cheeks hurt as these talented comics take the stage and deliver their hilarious routines.

11. Experience World-Class Music

During the winter months, the Aspen Music Festival and School presents a series of intimate chamber music concerts featuring renowned musicians worldwide. These performances are held in the stunning Harris Concert Hall, offering an unforgettable evening of music in a cozy setting.

As you settle into your seat, you’ll be transported by these incredible artists’ beautiful melodies and virtuosic playing. The Winter Music Series showcases a diverse range of classical music, from beloved masterpieces to contemporary works that push the boundaries of the genre. It’s a rare opportunity to experience world-class music in an intimate setting, surrounded by the beauty of Aspen’s winter landscape.

12. Attend Iconic Winter Events

Aspen hosts several iconic winter events that attract visitors from around the world. Here are three that you won’t want to miss:

EventDate and TimingsHighlights
WinterskölJanuary 11, 2024: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PMAspen’s annual celebration of winter, featuring on-mountain activities, fire sculptures, a torchlight parade, and fireworks.
January 12, 2024: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PMFriday Morning Uphill Breakfast Club, Kidsculpt, Rail Jam
January 13, 2024: 1:00 PM – 8:00 PMSoupsköl, Bonfire, Torchlight Descent, Fireworks
January 14, 2024: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PMDrag Queen Bingo Brunch
Winter X GamesJanuary 25-28, 2024: Day and Night CompetitionsThe world’s best action sports athletes compete in skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling at Buttermilk Mountain
Aspen Gay Ski WeekJanuary 14-21, 2024: Day and Evening EventsThe world’s premier LGBTQ+ ski festival, featuring a week-long celebration of diversity and inclusion

Indulge in Aspen’s Culinary Delights

After a day on the slopes or exploring the town, indulge in Aspen’s renowned dining and nightlife scene. From cozy bistros to world-class restaurants, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

13. Enjoy Aspen’s Legendary Après-Ski Scene

No visit to Aspen is complete without experiencing the legendary après-ski scene. Here are three popular spots where you can unwind and celebrate after a day on the mountain:

  • Ajax Tavern: Nestled at Aspen Mountain’s base, this sun-soaked patio is the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail and some mouth-watering truffle fries ($18)
  • 39 Degrees: This chic lounge at the Sky Hotel offers creative cocktails ($15-$20) and live music in a stylish setting
  • Venga Venga: Located in Snowmass Village, this lively Mexican cantina is known for its delicious margaritas ($12-$15) and slopeside location

14. Savor World-Class Cuisine at Fine-Dining Restaurants

Aspen boasts an impressive collection of fine dining restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world. Here are three that you won’t want to miss:

  • Matsuhisa: World-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa brings his signature Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine to Aspen (entrees $35-$65)
  • Element 47: The Little Nell’s flagship restaurant offers an exquisite dining experience with locally produced ingredients (prix fixe menus start at $105)
  • Cache Cache: This charming French bistro has been an Aspen staple for over 30 years (entrees $35-$65)

15. Experience Aspen’s Vibrant Nightlife and Live Music Scene

For those looking to dance the night away or catch a live show, Aspen has plenty of options. Here are three top picks:

  • Belly Up Aspen: This intimate music venue hosts an eclectic mix of national and international acts (ticket prices vary)
  • Escobar: Located downtown, this upscale nightclub features top DJs and bottle service (cover charge varies)
  • The Red Onion: This historic bar and restaurant has been a beloved Aspen institution since 1892, offering live music from local bands

Getting Around Aspen: Transportation Tips

People boarding an RFTA bus in the snowy streets after doing top things to do in Aspen in the winter.

Aspen is a compact, walkable town, making getting around without a car easy. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) offers free bus service within Aspen and to the surrounding ski areas, with frequent stops at popular travel destinations like the gondola and the airport. Many hotels also provide complimentary shuttle service, so you can leave the driving to someone else.

If you prefer a more personalized experience, consider booking a private car service through your hotel or vacation rental concierge. They can arrange transportation for your entire stay, ensuring that you arrive at your destinations safely and comfortably. Prices vary depending on the level of service and the length of your stay but expect to pay around $100-$200 per hour for a private car.

Essential Tips for Planning Your Aspen Winter Getaway

To ensure that you have the best possible experience and enjoy all the amazing things to do in Aspen in the winter, keep these essential tips in mind when planning your getaway:

  • Book early, especially during peak periods like Christmas and New Year’s, to secure the best rates and availability for flights, accommodations, and activities
  • Consider a luxury rental for more space, privacy, and amenities (prices range from $500 to $5,000 per night)
  • Take advantage of concierge services to help plan every aspect of your trip, from booking ski lessons and equipment rentals to securing reservations at the hottest restaurants and events
  • Pack layers, including a warm coat, hat, gloves, and waterproof boots, to stay comfortable in Aspen’s unpredictable winter weather

What’s the Best Time to Visit Aspen in the Winter?

The best time to visit Aspen in the winter depends on your priorities. If you’re all about skiing and snowboarding, January and February typically offer the most consistent snowfall and the best powder. But if you’re looking for a more festive vibe, consider visiting during the holiday season (late December through early January) or during one of Aspen’s iconic winter events like Wintersköl or the Winter X Games.

Do I Need a Car to Get Around Aspen?

While having a car can be convenient, it’s definitely not a necessity in Aspen. The town is compact and walkable, and there are plenty of other transportation options available, including free bus service, hotel shuttles, and private car services. Plus, parking can be a hassle (and expensive!) in downtown Aspen, so you might be better off leaving the driving to someone else.

Are there any Family-friendly Activities in Aspen During the Winter?

Absolutely! Aspen is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities that kids and adults alike will enjoy. Buttermilk Mountain is a great spot for beginner skiers and snowboarders, with gentle slopes and a laid-back vibe. And if you need a break from the slopes, check out the Aspen Recreation Center for indoor ice skating, rock climbing, and swimming.

What’s the Nightlife Like in Aspen During the Winter?

Aspen’s nightlife scene is legendary, with options for every taste and style. For a classic après-ski experience, head to Ajax Tavern or 39 Degrees for cocktails and live music. If you’re in the mood to dance, check out Escobar or Bootsy Bellows for top DJs and bottle service. And for live music lovers, Belly Up Aspen is a must-visit, with an impressive lineup of national and international acts.

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