Aspen See And Do
This well-curated museum runs two exhibits at a time focusing all manner of contemporary and modern art. The problem? It's tiny, worthy of an hour or so to see it all. That will all change in 2013, when the AAM moves into its new home on the corner of South Spring and Hyman in downtown Aspen. The space is designed by innovative Japanese architect Shikuru Ban, one of the 13 architects chosen by Brad Pitt to work with his Make It Right foundation to rebuild New Orleans's Lower 9th Ward. The 30,000-square-foot space features a roof deck with a sculpture garden and an unbeatable view of Aspen Mountain.—by Samantha Berman
Tel: 970 928 0723
One- to four-hour trail rides set off from Buttermilk Mountain, just outside of Aspen, for scenic rides through the Elk range. Multiday guided pack trips are great for those who want more saddle time.—by Samantha Berman
Tel: 970 963 6148
If the view from the gondola isn't enough, soar up to 2,500 feet above the Maroon Bells and the beautiful Elk Valley in a hot-air balloon. Rides launch at sunrise and last about an hour. A Champagne brunch is served when you land.—by Samantha Berman
Tel: 800 525 6200 (toll-free)
Tel: 970 925 1220
The only lift-served mountain biking in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 50 miles of trails on Snowmass are suited to never-evers as well as seasoned two-wheelers. Take the gondola halfway up, or if you are feeling adventurous, go all the way to the top. Guided tours are also available.—by Samantha Berman
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 920 0720
Powder Tours takes expert skiers in 11-person snowcat groups to terrain selected according to daily snow conditions and the group's experience. Expect an average of 10,000 vertical feet on ungroomed terrain, hitting glades and open bowls. Lunch is provided in a woodstove-heated cabin.
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 800 525 6200
The Aspen ski season starts in late November and runs through mid-April. There are four mountains here: Aspen Mountain (a.k.a. Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and the enormous, aptly named Snowmass (home to the longest and highest lift-served vertical rise in the country). Combined, they comprise 341 trails (316 miles covering 5,246 acres) served by 45 lifts capable of hauling more than 50,000 snow warriors an hour.
Thanks to 3,128 acres of varied terrain, skiers of all levels do well on Snowmass, earning its reputation as one of the best family resorts anywhere. And with a new learning area and lift at the top of the gondola, three new magic carpets, and the $17-million Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center—complete with Disneyland-like bear caves, beaver dens, and trout ponds—your little cubs will definitely agree. But the hill's friendly vibe shouldn't deter the double-diamond set: The Cirque Headwall serves up honest steeps that put your heart squarely in your throat. Visitors do have one gripe about the place: the lack of a base village, which is currently being solved by a massive development project. (The mountain is six miles outside of town.)
The other three mountains are all within a three-mile radius of downtown. Buttermilk, the site of ESPN's Winter X Games, is also a good choice for the novice—15 of its 42 trails are deemed easiest. Also a good bet for avoiding crowds. Aspen Mountain rises straight up from downtown, and is suited for experts (there are no bunny slopes). There is the classic World Cup–cruiser Ruthie's Run, and thrilling steeps like S1. There are also more famous and eccentric people than you'll be able to shake your pole at.
Aspen Highlands is where the locals play, and is generally the least crowded, with an average of two people per acre. It's also home to the hike-to Highlands Bowl, some of the steepest and deepest in-bounds terrain in Colorado. The hike—a 45–60 minute slog up a bootpack—is best for diehard experts, and those turns that are definitely worth earning. If that's not for you, don't worry: Deep Temerity's steep, moguled chutes will lend bragging rights, too. For the blue-square set, the long, rolling cruisers off the Cloud Nine chair are some of the best around.