A perfect winter day in Snowmass
February 4, 2004
There are many good times to be had in Snowmass and every day spent on the mountain and every night in the Village captures the essence of the resort town.
With hundreds of acres of skiable terrain, dozens of restaurants and bars and shops, it is difficult to experience all that the Village has to offer. But if done right, the fun and character of Snowmass can be captured in one day. The key to having a great day is to begin early. This requires that you are well-rested and not feeling the effects of the night before.
A day of successful of skiing or snowboarding starts with a good breakfast. If you are looking for a quality meal, the best breakfast I have found is at the Wildcat Cafe, in the Snowmass Center. It is extremely important to have a good breakfast before you hit the slopes. Arrive at 8 a.m. and if it’s a beautiful day, which it most likely will be, I encourage you to sit outside and gather up the rays as a headstart to getting that bronze tan the Colorado Rockies sunshine is known for. Pick up a local newspaper and read about the day’s events.
After a leisurely breakfast, head for the slopes. It is important to be in the lift line no later than 9 a.m. The quickest way to start making turns is to load at the Two Creeks area on the east side of the mountain.
There is never a line there and you will be making turns on freshly-groomed corduroy on the top of the mountain within 20 minutes. From the Two Creeks lift, go around the bend to the left to board the Elk Camp lift. That lift will take you to the top of the east side, which provides spectacular views of the massive Willow Basin. Make a few laps on the empty slopes. It will feel as if you have the whole mountain to yourself.
The morning hours can provide the tranquility and solitude of the ski experience that you will find at no other time during the day. After a few laps, head west to the middle section of the mountain and dabble with the terrain of High Alpine and the Big Burn areas.
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This is a great place to take more cruisers and jump into the trees and bumps at your leisure. Garrett’s Gulch and Powerline are great runs.
After skiing or boarding hard for two and a half hours, take a lunch break early at the Ullrhof, just below the Big Burn. It is important to grab a seat early, preferably a reclining lawn chair near the grill, just before noon.
The crowds will descend upon the deck by 12:30 p.m. Spend an hour eating a light lunch, people watching and soaking up the rays. Now that you’re rested, it is time to hit Hanging Valley Wall.
It sounds scary, but even an intermediate skier or boarder can get down it, if maybe not gracefully. Regardless of your ability, it is something that cannot go unexperienced. It is a straight shot down into the trees and you come out at the Elk Camp area.
The Wall can viewed by just about any place in the Village and you will be proud of yourself for conquering it.
Now that you feel like you have accomplished something, head to the middle of the mountain and make your way over to the Green Cabin area. After skiing hard for the past three hours, do yourself a favor and take the slow, double Sheer Bliss chairlift to bask in the sunshine and views.
The lift is just below a nice, long cruiser run. Once you’re off the lift, head west to the Sam’s Knob area. Making laps on that lift will put the finishing touches on your day, knowing that you have skied and covered the best terrain on Snowmass.
When your day of carving is over, have a glass of wine on the deck of The Restaurant at Sam’s Knob (formerly Dudley’s). At about 3:30 p.m., when the lifts shut down, head down the mountain. Just like the beginning of the day, you will feel as if you have the whole mountain to yourself.
Ski down to the Village Mall and try to find a seat on the deck of the Cirque. Slam a few cold beers and meet new friends while talking about the day’s skiing highlights.
The bulk of apres ski in Snowmass should be spent in the hot tub. Snowmass’ accommodations mostly consist of condominiums, which offer quiet getaways. And if you get in there early enough, you may get it all to yourself.
After an hour of soaking your aches away and just genuinely enjoying feeling good, go to your room and relax for a while before even thinking about heading into the night.
After relaxing, take a shower, go shop on the mall for a short time and eat dinner at Butch’s Lobster Bar. The food is great, especially the lobster bisque. It is a casual atmosphere and the waitstaff is fun and efficient.
After dinner, head over to the Tower Restaurant’s magic bar for an after dinner cocktail and watch the magical bartenders do their stuff. After the hour-long show, it is up to you to decide what you want to do.
Those who still have energy can head into Aspen and catch some entertainment. A perfect day in Snowmass may seem a bit ambitious, but hey, you’re on vacation and you shouldn’t let a moment slip by.