Queen of the Mountain: A Closer Look At The Silver Queen Gondola

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Aspen, Colorado, is home to the longest single-stage gondola in the world. Called the Silver Queen Gondola, it whisks riders from Gondola Plaza in downtown Aspen to the top of Aspen Mountain in 14 minutes – a  3,267 vertical rise.

The Silver Queen Gondola whisks you from the beating heart of Aspen – with its superb shopping, fascinating galleries and top-flight cuisine – to the serene summit of Aspen Mountain in minutes.

The Silver Queen Gondola whisks you from the beating heart of Aspen – with its superb shopping, fascinating galleries and top-flight cuisine – to the serene summit of Aspen Mountain in minutes.

Gondola rides at Aspen Mountain treat you to panoramic views of the Elk Mountains and White River National Forest. Pack a picnic lunch, hike among the wildflowers, or take a guided nature walk. Kids of all ages will get a thrill from the Eurobungy trampoline or climbing wall at the top of Aspen Mountain. Soothe your senses while you soak in the surrounding views!

Give a few sun salutations from 11,200 feet with a yoga class at the Sundeck, or simply savor the views of the Elk Mountains. Naturalist walks, the highest disc golf course in North America and the bluegrass concerts on Sundays round out the roster atop Aspen Mountain.

The gondola is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer months, with the last ride down at 4:15 p.m. The summer season is usually from late June until early September (around Labor Day). New for 2013, the gondola will stay in operation until late September.

During the early winter season, the gondola is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As the season progresses, the gondola stays open until around 4:30 p.m. (because of the additional sunlight).

There are four restaurants on the mountain: the Sundeck (at the top of Aspen Mountain); Bonnie’s; Ajax Tavern (at Gondola Plaza); and Element 47 (at The Little Nell base).

GONDOLA HISTORY

The aerial lift is supported and propelled by cables from above the cabin and was installed for the 1986-87 season. Today, the Silver Queen Gondola is part of Aspen Mountain’s extensive lift system, which includes 1 high-speed quad, 1 high-speed double, 2 quads and 3 doubles. The entire lift system on Aspen Mountain can accommodate 10,755 riders per hour, a large portion of which use the gondola exclusively.

The current setup of Aspen Mountain (or, as the locals call it, “Ajax”) allows for skiers and snowboarders to ski down the face of the mountain with breathtaking views of town. (FYI – snowboarding was not allowed on Aspen Mountain until 2001.) The elevation at the top of Aspen Mountain is 11,212 feet. The longest run is three miles and the entire mountain is rated “moderate to difficult” – there are no green (easy) runs on Aspen Mountain. Over one-fourth of the mountain is rated expert. The mountain is typically open for skiing from Thanksgiving weekend until late April, although dates are flexible based on snowfall. (Aspen Mountain does have snowmaking capabilities on about one-third of its ski area.)

Part of the White River National Forest, the foundation of the Aspen Mountain ski area was established in 1946 with the installation of the original Lift-1, a single seat chairlift. At the time, it was the longest chairlift in the world. It operated until 1972.

GONDOLA PRICING

(*The following information is for the Summer 2013 season. View current gondola pricing.)

Purchase two days in advance and save $5 off the full rate on adult gondola rides and all Two Mountain Passes.

Purchase two days in advance and save $5 off the full rate on adult gondola rides and all Two Mountain Passes.

Adult Sightseeing Ticket (age 13+). $23.00. Save $5 when you purchase in advance. This ticket gives you one ride on the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen OR the Elk Camp Gondola and Chair in Snowmass. Purchase a Two Mountain Pass valid for seven days in both Aspen and Snowmass for $5 more.

Adult Two Mountain Pass (age 13+). $28.00. BEST DEAL – Valid for seven consecutive days. Unlimited summer rides at Aspen and Snowmass. 10% off food at the Sundeck and Elk Camp. 20% off Aspen/Snowmass logo merchandise and bike rentals (cross-country, road, cruiser and kids) and 10% off downhill mountain bike rentals at Four Mountain Sports/D&E.

Child Sightseeing Ticket (age 4-12). $11.00. This ticket gives you one ride on the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen OR the Elk Camp Gondola and Chair in Snowmass. Purchase a Two Mountain Pass valid for seven days for both Aspen and Snowmass for the same price when you buy online.

Child Two Mountain Pass (age 4-12) $11.00. BEST DEAL – Same price as a one-day ticket. Valid for seven consecutive days. Unlimited summer rides at Aspen and Snowmass. 10% off food at the Sundeck and Elk Camp. 20% off Aspen/Snowmass logo merchandise and bike rentals (cross-country, road, cruiser and kids) and 10% off downhill mountain bike rentals at Four Mountain Sports/D&E.

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