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hoto: Seth Bekton

3 Days in Snowmass

2019 Summer Edition

A short drive from Aspen, Snowmass has its own very well-earned reputation as a world-class ski mountain, but it is also gaining an equally impressive reputation for its summer adventure options. With the kind of incredible views that people expect of Colorado and nestled among three million acres of public land, Snowmass offers everything you could hope for from a summer adventure getaway. We spent 72 hours in Snowmass flitting between eating and drinking and alternating between hot tubs and hot sweats.

4 PM Check in: Limelight Hotel Snowmass Check-in at the brand new Limelight Snowmass. A sister property to the Limelight in Aspen, the 99-room property (and 11 residences) is so new it still has that new hotel smell. Funkier than its Aspen counterpart (until, we hear, next year when the Limelight Aspen gets a nip and tuck - it is Aspen after all!), the Limelight has truly nailed the balance between relaxation and luxury which is evident in the staff - attentive and knowledgeable

Photos (this page and opposite page): Jeremy Swanson

but without the fawning you get from other places (which means you can take your own bags to your room without making the staff feel as if they aren’t doing their jobs). Rooms are stylish and relaxing yet they feel luxurious. Each room comes with all mod cons as well as a game and a novel (we had a Pinscreen and The Great Gatsby, not that we had time to read it, as you’ll see below). The Limelight is also pet friendly if you want to bring your four-legged friend, and the lobby is home to Colorado’s tallest indoor climbing wall. limelighthotels.com/snowmass

5 PM

Rest and Relaxation You may be tempted to dive right into something adrenaline inducing, but relaxation on a mini getaway is all but essential, and arrival days, particularly if you have traveled more than a few hours, are perfect for getting orientated and settling in. The Limelight has two large hot tubs - one actually hot and the other tepid - that look out over the Snowmass Base Village green. If you’re after a postarrival drink, the Lounge is the place to head.

7 PM

Farm-to-Table Dinner Depending on when you visit during the summer, you’ll find all kinds of different options for dinner in Snowmass and nearby Aspen. Farm-to-Table Tuesdays at the Elk Camp restaurant are a great option. Extremely casual (think seriously elevated cafeteria), the excellent food comes courtesy of local farms including Delicious Orchards, Farm Runners, Erin’s Acres Farm, The Other Side Ranch, Rock Bottom Ranch and Colorado Pastured Pork. Farm-to-Table dinners are every Tuesday from 5 - 9 pm until Aug. 13. The Elk Camp gondola is free from 4 pm (last ride up is at 8.30 pm and the last ride down is at 9 pm). aspensnowmass.com

7 AM

Fuel Up

Breakfast at the Limelight is included for all guests and is a great way to fuel up for a big day. The daily breakfast buffet has pastries, breads, jams, fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, bacon, waffles, tea and coffee.

9 AM

Drink in the Views

Ease yourself into adventure with a trip to the legendary Maroon Bells. The road from Aspen Highlands is closed to personal vehicles between 8 am-5 pm from mid-June through the first weekend in October, but buses run every 20 minutes from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Lake. You can go for a short hike when you get there or just bask in nature’s handiwork. If you are up for it, you can get on your road bike and ride the eight miles from Aspen Highlands. Want something a little more strenuous? The iconic 28-mile climb from Snowmass Village to the top of Independence Pass (Colorado’s fourth highest paved road) will take you up to 12,095 feet, but you will deserve that margarita with lunch. aspensnowmass.com

Photo: Jeremy Swanson Photo: Venga Venga via Yelp

1 PM


Photo: Channing B via Yelp

Whether basking in the glory of a successful ride or hike (or just being incredibly content with seeing one of Colorado’s foremost wonders), you will likely be in celebratory mood. A great place for an on-mountain lunch back in Snowmass is Venga Venga, a Mexican restaurant with great views of the mountain. We tried several dishes during our stay, but the steak fajitas (skirt steak, achiote marinade and salsa roja) were excellent, as was the tableside guacamole. Wash it down with a prickly pear margarita if you’re done with your physical activity for the day. gosnowmass.com

Photo: Venga Venga via Yelp

Photo: Jeremy Swanson

Photo: Jeremy Swanson

3 PM Get Lost in the Forest

Photo: Andy Curtis

Summers in Colorado are for adventurers, both young and old, and Snowmass has a wide range of outdoor family activities including the Lost Forest. This onmountain activity center is actually open for its first full summer this year. Perhaps the jewel at the center of the Lost Forest is the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, a

5,700-foot track that flies through the trees at speeds of up to 28 miles per hour. Then there is the Canopy Run Zipline which includes a three-hour rappelling and zipline tour with eight ziplines up to 90 feet off the ground. There is also the Treeline Trail Challenge Course which includes five paths that are 40 feet off the ground and a climbing wall with 14 auto belays and up to 50 routes. There are also two disc golf courses. The Lost Forest is open daily from 9- 4 pm, June 21 - Sept. 2, as well as Friday - Sunday only Sept. 6-8, 13-15, 2022, 27-29, and Oct. 4-6. aspensnowmass.com

6 PM

Live Music & a Rodeo

Photo: Jeremy Swanson

Thursdays in Snowmass during summer mean free live music. A Snowmass summer tradition for 28 years, the Snowmass Free Concert Series takes place every Thursday evening (and two bonus Saturdays) until Aug. 22 when the New Orleans Suspects will be in town. Hundreds gather on Fanny Hill for this awesome free concert with a stunning mountain backdrop. Remember to bring a picnic blanket or chairs and a jacket or sweater for after the sun goes down. Food and drinks are sold on-site, and several local restaurants offer various picnic options. There is also a family fun zone with face painting, hula hooping and balloon art among other things. In town on a Wednesday? How about a rodeo? The Snowmass Rodeo, one of the longest-running in Colorado, is in its 46th year and takes place every Wednesday, rain or shine, until Aug. 21. Kicking off with a barbecue at 5 pm, the actual rodeo gets going at 7 pm. gosnowmass.com

Photo: Hal Williams

9 AM

Photo: Seth Bekton

After another hearty breakfast at the Limelight, head to Snowmass Bike Park for a day bouncing around some of Colorado’s best trails.

a great network of trails with something for everyone. Maps are available from the gondola ticket office in Snowmass Base Village.

Winding from the top of the Elk Camp chairlift all the way to Snowmass Base Village, the bike park offers something for every level of downhill mountain bike rider with a wide selection of blue trails as well as some greens and blacks.


With nearly 3,000 vertical feet of purpose-built downhill trails, including the technical challenges of the three V’s: Viking, Vapor, and Valhalla, Snowmass Bike Park offers the opportunity to experience a ski resort from a different perspective with all the same adrenaline. Open daily from 9 am – 4 pm, the Snowmass Bike Park is also open until dusk on Tuesdays, Aug. 13 for extended play. On these Tuesdays, a Late Arrival Ticket begins at 2 pm and costs $34. Not up for quite that much of an adrenaline rush? There are also plenty of great hiking trails on the mountain (more than 90 miles in fact), just take the Elk Camp gondola and Elk Camp chairlift (Friday through Sunday) for incredible views and

Cycling Events Audi Power of Four Mountain Bike The Audi Power of Four Race Series is a premier endurance race series that takes advantage of all four Aspen Snowmass mountains | Aug. 17 The Big Mountain Enduro Featuring high altitude riding with big descents in Snowmass Bike Park and on new trail integrations on Aspen Mountain, racers tackle five to six stages, including 12,000 feet of descending and 3,000 feet of climbing over the weekend | Aug. 17 - 18 Yeti Cycles Vida Mtb Series This two-day women’s only mountain bike clinic provides women with the opportunity to increase their mountain biking confidence, learn new skills and to connect with VIDA coaches on proper biking technique | Aug. 17 - 18

Photo: Ryan C via Yelp

1 PM

Get Hoppy

Lunch on the mountain at the New Belgium Ranger Station is convenient and relaxed. Nachos, sliders, soups and salads can be paired with a range of beers from the brewing giant. Be sensible if you’re planning on hitting the trails again after lunch and making it a full day of biking. Done with biking for the day? Try one of the following suggestions then head back to the hotel to rest up and relax before dinner. gosnowmass.com

3 PM

Choose Your Own Adventure

Snowmass Recreation Center: This huge facility has all kinds of programs and classes for kids and adults as well as outdoor saline pools and climbing and bouldering walls in addition to regular rec center facilities. Whitewater Rafting: With the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers nearby, Class I to Class IV rapids await whether you’re into whitewater rafting, kayaking or SUP boarding.

Photo: Seth Bekton

Fly-Fishing: The Roaring Fork River offers the largest stretch of Colorado’s Gold Medal waters in the state. East of Snowmass is the Frying Pan River which also has Gold Medal Waters. Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat Trout abound! Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center: In 2010, a construction crew found a tusk from a young female mammoth that turned out to be the first of 5,000 bones from at least 10 mammals including mammoths, mastodons, camels, horses and sloths. Spend a few hours exploring. Anderson Ranch Arts Center: Bringing together aspiring and internationally renowned artists to discuss their work, Anderson Ranch is free and open to the public and hosts workshops for adults and kids, lectures and weekend classes among other things.

Photo: Jeremy Swanson


7 PM

Dinner Slopeside

For those that truly worked hard on the mountain, the Lounge in the Limelight has great wood-fired pizzas as well as chicken, steak and salmon dishes among other offerings so you don’t even have to leave the building if you are so inclined! limelighthotels.com If you have a smidgen of energy left, Slow Groovin’ Slopeside is a barbecue place that offers all the classics. Famished? Go for a platter of smoky goodness. Photo: Slow Groovin’



Photo: Jeremy Swanson

With so much to do in Snowmass, you can easily fill 72 hours. However, if you have more time you should head into Aspen (there is even free public transportation) where there is even more to do, see, eat and drink.


Kick-off your Aspen morning with mountaintop yoga. Take in the fresh mountain air as you practice Hatha yoga with instructor Jayne Gottlieb. Classes are at 10.30 am every Monday-Friday until Aug. 30. Classes are $10 but you also need a valid lift ticket to get there!


For a bit of culture and lunch, head downtown to the Aspen Art Museum. The non-collecting institution brings incredible contemporary art from around the world to the mountains of Colorado. Arguably more amazing than the art is that entrance is free. There are also educational programs as well as community events throughout the year. SO Cafe on the roof of the museum is a great place to grab a bite pre- or post-browsing.


Each Sunday of the summer season Aspen Mountain plays host to some of Colorado’s best bluegrass bands. The backdrop is stunning and there are plenty of food choices on offer as well as lots of activities for kids.


Meat and Cheese is one restaurant we always try to visit when we’re in town. Great for casual dinners with plenty of great sharing dishes, on our most recent visit we tried Aspen’s version of the Korean dish of bossam (pork wrapped in lettuce leaves with pickles). Be sure to pick up a selection of otherwise hard-to-find cheeses to take home, too.

Photo: Michael Moran / OTTO


Photo: Tamara Susa



Snowmass Rodeo – Until Aug. 21 Celebrating 46 years this summer, making it one of the longest continuously running rodeos in Colorado, the Snowmass Rodeo takes place every Wednesday at 7 pm, rain or shine, throughout the summer.

JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience – Aug. 30-Sept. 1 A bevy of world-class musicians descend on Snowmass for this weekend festival. Headliners including Sting, John Mayer, Weezer, Luke Combs, Portugal. The Man, H.E.R., ZZ Ward, and Turkuaz.

Snowmass Free Concert Series – Until Aug. 22 Taking place on 11 consecutive Thursdays throughout the summer, the weekly free concert series on Fanny Hill showcases a wide range of musical genres - from reggae and soul to funk, and rock. 2019 marks the 28th year of the Snowmass Free Concert Series.

Snowmass Balloon Festival – Sept. 6-8 The 44th Annual Snowmass Balloon Festival will once again fill the sky with dozens of hot air balloons at sunrise. The weekend also features games, a night glow and kid’s activities among other things.

Fridays on the Mall – Until Aug. 23 Kick-off the weekend on the Snowmass Mall with live music, extended business hours as well as food and drink specials among other things. Farm-to-Table Tuesdays – Until Aug. 13 Elk Camp restaurant hosts a la carte dinners inspired by the farm-to-table movement with locally-sourced ingredients. There is also a cash bar, outdoor activities and live music.

Septemberfest & Cidermass – Sept. 7 Celebrating all things fall in Snowmass Village, Cidermass features hard cider tastings from around 30 vendors from all over the country on the Snowmass Mall in the morning. The afternoon sees Septemberfest return to Base Village for the third time with wine and sake tastings, food vendors, children’s activities and live music. Aspen Snowmass Motoring Classic - Sept. 14 Vehicles of all shapes and sizes gather in Snowmass for a supped-up car show. Snowmass Wine Festival – Sept. 14 A long-standing summer tradition, the Snowmass Wine Festival features a weekend of wine tasting and pairing dinners.

Photo: Hal Williams

Golden Leaf Half Marathon Trail Run – Sept. 28 Watch as runners from around the country take to the trails. Starting in Snowmass Village at 8:30 am, runners make their way to Aspen surrounded by the splendor of fall colors.

Profile for West of 105 magazine

3 Days in Snowmass: Summer 2019 Edition  

A short drive from Aspen, Snowmass has its own very well-earned reputation as a world-class ski mountain, but it is also gaining an equally...

3 Days in Snowmass: Summer 2019 Edition  

A short drive from Aspen, Snowmass has its own very well-earned reputation as a world-class ski mountain, but it is also gaining an equally...

Profile for westof105

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