The Ultimate Guide to Aspen Mountain, Colorado
Written by Jack Lee • Last updated Oct 10, 2017
Aspen Mountain or “Ajax”, first opened in 1946, and is the flagship venture of the Aspen Skiing Company which has now expanded into a complex of four ski areas. Aspen is collectively known as a “skier’s mountain” as the terrain primarily appeals to intermediates with nearly half the runs rated blue and the remainder to be carved up by advanced and extreme skiers. If it’s your first time skiing, best to head down to its sister resorts Snowmass and Buttermilk across town.
Aspen Mountain first gained international attention when it hosted the 1950 World Championships. The course was set along a stretch of terrain you can still ski on to this very day. This notoriety placed focus on what was once a sleepy mountain town to the ski hub that it is today. The mountain and the town are practically one as they meld seamlessly from flat, municipal grid to an intertwined network of mountain runs. From the top of Aspen Mountain, you can see the peaks of Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands as well as the 14,000 plus feet pinnacles of Castle Peak and Pyramid Peak.
If you like the idea of really putting your legs through a workout, you can ride the mountain from top to bottom in just one chairlift trip, with the longest route stretching out over 3 miles. Duck in and out of the trees to find hidden memorials and shrines amongst the trees, paying homage to pop culture icons such as Hunter S. Thompson, John Denver, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and many others.
When to Go
Ski season on Aspen Mountain generally begins in late November during Thanksgiving weekend and goes through late March - sometimes stretching into April. The crowds start flooding in Christmas week and the party continues until the end of January as the town comes alive for the Wintersköl festival and the X Games. But if you’re only there for the mountain, the slopes are deserted during the X Games though it’s still considered peak season for lodging.
If you’re a powder hound, the best months to ski or ride Aspen Mountain are December, January and February. That said, March and April are Colorado’s snowiest months, so even if you arrive late in the season there are still freshies to go around – though the snow tends to be a little heavier, turning into compact powder near the tail end of the season. For a good balance of sun, snow and quiet, February is good bet!
The rule of thumb for getting the most out of your lift ticket investment is to plan ahead, buy in bulk and avoid the Christmas holiday. The prices are in constant flux depending on the time of season, but we find that the best value is in multi-day tickets purchased at least one week in advance. Avoid the premium on walk-up rates! Check out the most current pricing and promotions here. Whether you’ve settled for a day pass or a season pass, it’s valid on all Aspen resorts, so if you get bored of Ajax, it’s just a matter of driving down to the road to either Highlands, Buttermilk or Snowmass!
If you’re planning to do a bit more travelling before the season ends, especially to Salt Lake City, then you might want to consider the Mountain Collective Pass, which covers pretty much all the top resorts in Utah – Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin.
Photos by Greg and Heather Burke
The scenery was absolutely magnificent. The natural beauty especially when the snow falls so softly in the evening is breathtaking.
This is the original hot spot, yet its ruggedness, beauty, charm and history are attractive as well. conveniences.