The cold winter air filled my nostrils, almost seeming to singe them, as I sat 12,000 feet above sea-level taking in the view. It had been snowing for 24 hours and the clouds were finally starting to break to reveal a brilliant blue sky. I was sitting ankle-deep in fresh Colorado powder, looking down at the tiny, distant, snowy village of Snowmass and the neverending mountain range that hemmed me in.
It’s cliché to call moments like this “breathtaking.” Unless the cold air and lack of oxygen combined with the natural beauty actually do leave you short of breath. In that case, it’s just being honest.
I got up and slowly prepared for my decent. I hadn’t snowboarded in almost a decade and wasn’t sure if I still had the muscle memory to glide through the powder as gracefully as I used to. As a teenager, I loved winter and welcomed weekends with friends snowboarding at ski resorts near my home. But those trips felt like a distant memory and as I stood perched at the top of the slope, anticipating the first drop down the run. I was on edge. Nervous.
The anxiety lifted as I set off and started to carve down the hill. Fear gave way to adrenaline and, gradually, joy. It was like I’d never stopped boarding. I felt light, I felt fast, and I was in control. By the time I reached the bottom of the run, I was panting, invigorated, and deeply in love with Aspen, Colorado.
Just about every winter lover in the country has pictured the snow-dusted villages and fantasized over the epic après-ski parties of Aspen. The iconic Colorado mountain town is widely idealized as a winter wonderland, offering some of the best skiing in the United States. But while the ski area’s four mountains — Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk — cater to all skill levels, the town isn’t always so good at fitting all budgets.
To help you navigate the ins-and-outs of Aspen and know where to save a few dollars, we offer this guide to ensure you get the most out of your Rocky Mountain adventure.