You are here

A Closer Look At The Silver Queen Gondola

Posted: 18 Sep 2021

The Silver Queen Gondola runs from the gondola plaza in downtown Aspen to the top of Aspen Mountain.

At 12,000 feet long, the Silver Queen Gondola is one of the longest single-stage gondolas in North America. It whisks riders up 3,267 vertical feet to 11,200 feet in 14 gorgeous minutes. Riders are then treated to panoramic views of the Elk Mountains, the White River National Forest, and the iconic Highland Bowl.

The views and the activities vary from season to season, but the Silver Queen Gondola remains a top attraction for any Aspen visit.


In 1938, Elizabeth Paepcke drove up the back side of Aspen Mountain with the Midnight Miners in their trucks. She skied down the front side from those 11,200 feet and realized the mountain's potential as a ski resort.

However, with the commencement of World War II, the first chairlift didn't open on the mountain until 1946 with Lift 1 going to midway from town and Lift 2 from the top of Lift 1 to the Sundeck. The uphill lift capacity of these lifts was 1,070 skiers an hour.

Other lifts were opened over the years, but it wasn't until the 1986/1987 season that a single lift was able to cover the same ground -- town to Sundeck -- that the original Lift 1 and Lift 2 could cover: the Silver Queen Gondola. The existing chairlifts took 30 minutes. The new gondola took 14 minutes. Elizabeth Paepcke was there for the inaugural ride.

In 2006, Aspen Skiing Co. replaced the 1986 gondola cars with the existing ones for greater uphill capacity, better ventilation, and more comfort. Included with the new cabins were historical placards outlining many aspects of the mountain and town's history for gondola riders to enjoy.

In 2021, Aspen Skiing Co. updated its Aspen Snowmass logo and reskinned the gondola cars.


Silver Queen Gondola in Summer

Silver Queen Gondola in Summer

The top of Aspen Mountain is one of the most beautiful places in the entire valley during the summer months, and the Silver Queen Gondola provides visitors and locals with access to many great activities.

  • Hiking: There are many beautiful trails that weave across Richmond Ridge from the top of Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Center for Environment Studies (ACES) offers naturalist-led walks during summer months. Our ambitious visitors and locals often hike up Aspen Mountain from town and enjoy a free gondola ride back to town. While the hike is quite strenuous, the wildflower meadows and stunning views make it worthwhile!
  • Mountaintop Yoga: Offered daily on a sunny deck atop Aspen Mountain, this yoga class with a view is the perfect embodiment of the Aspen ethos of mind, body, spirit.
  • Disc Golf, Lawn Games, and Kids Attractions: Once atop Aspen Mountain, there are many points of interest, from the interactive "nests" for kids to the badminton court. Adults and teens love the disc golf course, and even the little kids can find entertainment in the sandbox!
  • Live Music: With the Elk Mountains as a backdrop, musicians perform on weekends at the Sundeck. Grab a beverage and bite from the Sundeck and settle in for some epic entertainment.
  • Great Food: The Sundeck is open for lunch during peak summer months. Enjoy delicious fare from the grill, salad bar, or wok station, and treat yourself to a cold drink from the full bar.
  • Photo Opps: There really is no other venue in Aspen that offers such dramatic views. For those coming from sea level, the Silver Queen Gondola provides easy access to the very top photo opportunity


Silver Queen Gondola in Winter

Silver Queen Gondola in Winter

Aspen Mountain is the frequented by most local skiers looking to maximize their vertical, and that's mostly due to the Silver Queen Gondola's efficiency. Moreover, the gondola provides a great way to warm up on cold days as skiers and snowboarders lap Aspen Mountain.

For non-skiers, the Silver Queen Gondola can also ferry foot passengers to the top of Aspen Mountain where they can take in the views, snap some photos, dine at the Sundeck, or embark on a guided snowshoe tour with Aspen Center for Naturalist Studies (ACES). These tours are guided by naturalists, and participants learn about local ecology, wildlife, snow science, and more as they stroll through picturesque forests at the top of Aspen Mountain.

The Silver Queen Gondola is also the starting point for Powder Tours, a luxury snowcat powder skiing experience on the backside of Aspen Mountain.

Are you inspired to ride the Silver Queen Gondola?

Join us in Aspen! Start by finding your perfect vacation rental online or by requesting recommendations from our Aspen-based reservations specialists. We hope to see you on the gondola!