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12 Feb 2019
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Vacation Planning

Aspen’s Average Annual Snowfall

How much snow does Aspen get each year on average? The numbers vary slightly depending on which source you consult. For example, one report claims that Aspen gets 176 inches of snow each year (comparing it to the U.S. average of only 26 inches).

A trusted survey of climate data pegs the number at 179 inches per year. And a look back over past seasons reports an average of 164 inches per year, with amazing years standing out, like the 276 inches reported in the 1983-84 season and 250 inches in the winter of 2007-08. With winter now more than halfway over, the 2018-19 season is predicted to be above average.

More Than Snowfall

No matter how you look at it, 160-plus inches is a lot of snow. But the raw numbers don't tell the whole story. At any ski resort, a lot of other factors go into the quality of your experience on the slopes. How well are the runs groomed? What's underneath the snow that needs to be covered up? How many skiers and snowboarders are on the slopes and spreading the snow around?

Some ski areas need many feet of snow just to provide decent coverage for a good skiing or snowboarding experience. Aspen Snowmass isn’t one of them. Because the slopes are naturally smooth and lack major rock bands (especially on Aspen Mountain), they don't require as much snow to provide excellent skiing.

Frias Properties owner Chuck Frias has been skiing Aspen for 45 years. He notes: "Underneath the snow, Aspen's ski runs are nearly meadows with very few rocky areas. It doesn't take much snow to provide adequate coverage."

That means Aspen Mountain consistently opens at Thanksgiving (or earlier when possible) and stays open well into the spring. Snow starts to fall in earnest in October each year, and the 11,000-foot peaks surrounding the town of Aspen can even get snowfall year-round.

An End-of-the-Road Destination

During winter months, Aspen is a one-entrance town, and its location four hours from Denver makes it just far enough out of the way to dissuade day-skier traffic. This positioning makes Aspen less crowded than some of Colorado’s other famed ski resorts like Vail, and it keeps the skier numbers relatively low.

The most tangible benefit of Aspen’s low crowds is the absence of lift lines, even during the busiest times of the winter. The other benefit? Our snow stays fresh longer after a storm. It’s not uncommon to find untouched stashes at the end of the day, even when eager skiers have stormed the mountain on a powder day.

More Than One Mountain

Don’t forget that Aspen Snowmass is comprised of Aspen Mountain and three other ski areas: Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass. This large amount of terrain spreads out skiers and snowboarders, keeping new snow fresher longer. It also means there are four different opportunities to catch incoming storms and maximize snow totals.

Although the four mountains are all located right next to one another, each is likely to get its own unique snowfall out of each storm. With a variety of elevations and aspects, each mountain has a different set of ideal conditions (including wind direction) for storms to drop big snow totals.

You can easily pick and choose which mountain you want to ski or snowboard based on which has the best new snow. This diversity of aspects, terrain, and options is just one more thing that sets Aspen apart from other ski destinations.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to hitting superlative snow conditions in Aspen, you have four things going for you: average annual snowfall over 170 inches, four mountains capable of holding deep snowpacks all winter long, relatively low crowds, and the ability to pick where you ski based on which mountain has the best new snow. These four factors let you find fast groomers, powder stashes, and perfect off-piste terrain all winter long right here in Aspen.

When you're ready to experience skiing and boarding in Aspen Snowmass, explore our Aspen rentals, contact our local experts, and start planning your vacation.

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