Aspen and Snowmass are located just over nine miles from one another in Colorado's stunning Roaring Fork Valley. With both destinations so close together, it can be a challenge to decide if you should stay in Aspen or Snowmass during your next visit.
While both have exceptional dining, events, and activities, Aspen has a bit more to offer than Snowmass. With that being said, we recommend you stay in Aspen and make plans to visit Snowmass during your trip. Here's why.
When you dream about a ski vacation in a scenic mountain town, you are likely fantasizing about a place like Aspen. With its 7,359 residents, Aspen is nestled in one of the most gorgeous sections of the Roaring Fork Valley with stunning views of the Elk Mountains from just about everywhere. It's easy to walk from one side of town to the other and effortlessly visit anything in between.
Snowmass, with a population of 2,769, feels a little less like a town and a bit more like a resort, and for good reason -- it was built as one.
The Snowmass Village Mall is considered "downtown" in Snowmass because it's where all the action takes place. However, it's not really a "downtown" as much as it is a walking mall. Aspen's downtown area, commonly known as "The Core," is a lively area packed with all the ski-town essentials. It has parks, shops, restaurants, bars, art galleries, designer shops, two walking malls, and much more.
Because Aspen is a bit bigger and has an actual "downtown" area, it offers more options in just about every category.
Founded in 1879 during the mining boom, Aspen is steeped in Rocky Mountain tradition and history. It wasn't until 1946 that it became the skiing destination that we know it as today.
It's hard to go anywhere in Aspen without encountering some fun piece of Aspen's history. From romantic Victorian houses to old ski chalets and abandoned mines, Aspen is awash in history for you to interact with.
It wasn't until 1967 that Snowmass-At-Aspen was established. The town of Snowmass Village slowly grew around the resort that we now know as Snowmass. And while there is history in Snowmass, including ancient history involving mastodons and wooly mammoths, it's not as rich and storied as it is in Aspen.
When it comes to dining, both Aspen and Snowmass have plenty of great options for diners of all tastes and ages. Aspen has a few more than Snowmass and most all of them are located downtown. Snowmass restaurants are primarily located in the Snowmass Village Mall and Base Village.
The main difference between the dining scene in Aspen and Snowmass is the diversity. Aspen has a wider range of cuisine and more offerings, especially in the fine dining category.
One other thing to keep in mind is that many restaurants in Snowmass close down during late spring and fall. While the same is true to an extent in Aspen, more of its restaurants stay open during these times of the year.
Proximity to Other Mountains
Aspen has an edge on Snowmass when it comes to its proximity to the other mountains that are part of Aspen Snowmass. Both Aspen Highlands Ski Resort and Buttermilk Ski Area are just three miles from downtown Aspen. Snowmass is about six miles away from Buttermilk and eight miles from Aspen Highlands.
While the difference doesn't seem that great right now, it might seem a bit more substantial at the end of a long ski day when you have a hot tub calling your name.
Aspen has one of the best public transportation systems in the United States. From ride sharing to free buses and electric vehicles called Downtowners, there are plenty of free and affordable options for getting around Aspen without having to drive yourself.
There aren't quite as many public transportation options available to visitors in Snowmass Village. If you are not into walking and you're not staying at a hotel, you might have a harder time getting around. There is a gondola that connects the Base Village and the Snowmass Village Mall, and there are buses that connect Snowmass with the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley.
It's hard to go wrong when you choose Aspen or Snowmass for your next ski vacation. For the best possible experience, stay in Aspen and visit Snowmass for some skiing, dining, or on-mountain activities.