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Aspen Opening Day: A Local's Guide

Posted: 16 Nov 2018

Of all the amazing Aspen events that take place each winter, none garner more anticipation and fanfare than Aspen opening day. Locals look forward to it all summer and fall. So once it's here, they know how to make the most of it. Moreover, Aspen has FOUR opening days thanks to our four world-class ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.

Use these helpful tips from locals and learn how to pull together the perfect opening day on any of our four ski areas.

Find Your Gear & Make Sure it Works

If you haven't already, it's time to break out your winter gear and make sure that everything is accounted for and in working order. If you wait until the morning of opening day, you are bound to find out that your binding is broken or a mouse chewed a hole in your only pair of gloves.

Get all your equipment together a couple weeks before opening day or your trip out to Aspen. This will give you plenty of time to get your skis or board worked on at a time of year when ski shops are just opening their doors. It will also give you time to find all the equipment that isn't where you put it at the end of last season.

Then, instead of starting the morning of Aspen opening day trying to piece together all your gear in a scramble, lay it all out the night before. This will ensure a relaxing morning full of good vibes sure to carry through the rest of your day.

Leave Your New Skis or Board at Home

Even during great early-season snow years, the winter snowpack is at its lowest on opening day and that means there might be some rocks hiding on the edge of runs where things thin out. These rocks can put gouges in your new skies, or even worse, rip out an edge. Either type of damage will make you feel like that little kid who drops his ice cream cone right after the first lick. If you can, we recommend you resist the temptation to break them out and keep your new skis or board at home.

You will be able to save yourself from expensive repairs and serious frustration by using a pair of what locals call "rock skis" for the first couple weeks of the season. Any skis that have seen better days and you aren't worried about damaging will do. As long as they are in working order.

If you are renting or insist on using your new skis, try to stick to the center of runs. Avoid those tempting powder patches until there's a bit more of a base.

Start Training

Depending on when you are reading this, you either have plenty of time for pre-season ski training, or you don't. If you have a few weeks until the mountain opens, we recommend you make the most of it and start working out.

Focus on leg and core strength exercises. And, don't forget to incorporate some cardio.

If you neglected pre-season training altogether and you don't have enough time to do any before the mountain opens, make sure you pay attention to this next piece.


You don't want your first day of the ski season to be your only day of the ski season. Try not to get caught up in opening day excitement and rush out the door with a stiff body. It will only get stiffer as you stand in line waiting to get on the lift or gondola.

While the line on opening day is likely the only one you will encounter in Aspen all season, stretching before you leave the house is still good practice whenever hitting the slopes or returning home at the end of the day.

Your body will thank you and hopefully, it will help you avoid injuries.

Don't Overdo it

It's going to feel amazing when you get back on the mountain, start arching some turns and settle back into the swing of things. Don't let that incredible feeling of your first day back on the slopes turn into overconfidence.

Your body won't be as strong as it was at the end of last season. And, it's going to take a bit of time to get your "ski legs" back no matter how much pre-season training you did. When your body starts telling you it's tired, that's a great time to call it a day. Injuries tend to happen when you choose not to listen to your body.

An added benefit of not overdoing it is having energy for some post-ski opening day fun in town.

Treat Yourself

After successfully making it through what is sure to be another amazing Aspen opening day, treat yourself to a drink with friends. Aspen has a world-famous apres ski scene sure to be full of locals and visitors celebrating the return of ski season.

After a bit of apres ski revelry, there are few things that will feel better than a soak in a hot tub. We recommend you plan ahead and book an Aspen vacation rental with one.

What You Want to Remember

You now have the local knowledge you need to make the most of Aspen opening day.

Pull out all your gear in advance, including a pair of rock skis, and make sure everything works. Get your legs, core, and lungs in shape and make sure you are feeling limber before you hit the slopes.

Once you're on the mountain, stick to the center of runs and avoid the edges where rocks might be hiding. Listen to your body and don't overdo it.

Wrap it all up by rewarding yourself for a great day on the slopes with some apres fun and a soak in the hot tub.

Now that you know how to make the most of Aspen opening day, browse our vast selection of vacation rentals that will give you easy access to the slopes. Or contact our reservations specialists to get recommendations on where to stay.