Favorite thing: Capitol Peak is one of Colorado's fourteeners. Its 8 miles to the top. The first 6 miles or so to capitol lake cross through a valley. The last few miles are more strenuous and the last few hundred feet can actually require technical climbing skills.
Favorite thing: One of the "smaller" mountains in Colorado, Mt. Sopris is just under 13,000 feet in elevation. It is a 6 mile hike from Dinkle Lake at the end of Forest Road 311 . It is a 4 mile climb to Thomas Lakes and then another 2 miles and 2,700 feet in elevation gain to the summit.
Favorite thing: An easy hike through the forest and wildflowers. Maroon Creek trail begins in the Marroon Creek parking lot and ends at East Maroon Portal. It is 3 miles or so total. There is a bus available to take you back to the parking lot.
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE MOUNTAINS
There are 4 mountains that make up Aspen Skiing Company running in the order given from south to north. Ajax, Aspen Highlands, Tiehack/Buttermilk, and Snowmass.
All the mountains are easy to get to by a FREE transportation shuttle that runs between them and the town of Aspen, (see my transportation page.)
AJAX : (Intermediate/Expert Mostly)
This is the main mountain which you see in most Aspen photos towering over the town.
Ajax offers aggressive skiers all they could wish for; 675 acres of steeps, trees, and bumps. It's not a mountain for the faint of heart, there's hardly a green trail to be found. If you do have the experience, and guts, head here, the views of the town below are excellent. Also, you must have a mid mountain lunch at Bonnie's (970-925-1220). They have the greatest chili, and sitting out on their two tiered deck sipping a glass of wine in the spring sunshine is sheer nirvana.
P.S. No snowboarding allowed here, this is for skiers only! Also, this mountain will definitely test your skiing skills. Don't bring grandma or the kids here unless they're kamakazees, or highly skilled.
BUTTERMILK/TIEHACK: (Mostly Beginner and Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)
Smooth groomed runs are what you'll find here at Aspen's kinder, gentler ski area. It has wide runs and mellow pitches. It's a beginner's paradise. Snowboarders will also want to head here. This is where the Winter X games take place, and they leave all the rails, terrain parks and music filled half-pipes in excellent condition for the remainder of the season. For lunch, head to The Cliffhouse atop Buttermilk Mountain, which has a wonderful "Mongolian Barbeque". You choose items from a salad bar-type line stocked with a variety of sliced meats, vegetables, seafood, tofu and varying accompaniments. Then you top your selections with a choice of sauces, from ginger to garlic and hand the contents of the bowl to a chef who quickly stir-fries the ingredients to perfection.
Fondest memory: ASPEN HIGHLANDS: (Advanced Beginner, Mostly Intermediate, Expert)
Initially owned by Harvard, (a donation from an alumni), the highlands were sold to Aspen Skiing Company, and have been undergoing a major base revamping over the past couple of years. Now completed, the Ritz Carlton has opened a beautiful ski-in/out lodge at the base, and there are several new shops and restaurants worth checking out. The Highlands are considered one of local's favorites, as well as mine. This mountain has plenty of intermediate terrain, and is the most un-crowded of the four mountains, (even at the busiest times of year). There are breathtaking steeps, tree-skiing, and extreme out-of-bounds terrain.
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, located on Aspen Highlands beneath the summit of the Cloud Nine high-speed quad is a great place for lunch. You can have a gourmet meal or a self-serve lunch at the Cloud Nine Soup Bowl. This intimate warming hut has picnic bench seating, TV, music while serving delicious soups du jour and grill-your-own food items.
SNOWMASS: (All Experience levels)
Combines all of the other mountains into one. It's big! Actually four mini-mountains make up Snowmass: Elk Camp, High Alpine, Big Burn and Sam's Knob. Whether you're an expert or beginner, contented cruiser or boarder, you will find something here. Unfortunately, because of the wonderfully varied terrain there is a problem with crowds. The mountain's design seems to funnel everyone down to one area, so stay away from peak arrival and departure periods.
To get to the best terrain with light crowds, immediately head to the farthest left portion of the mountain; Elk Camp. It will take you a while going lift to lift, but this is the place to be, just make sure you allow enough time to return to the base at the end of the day. Lifts close at 3:30 pm. In Elk Camp, you must have lunch at Cafe Suzanne. They have a wonderfully large sundeck, and serve a variety of great soups, burgers,salads, etc.
Visit the Maroon Bells. To me, these beautiful mountains are the essence of deep country Colorado. You literally feel like you are on a Rocky Mountain High when you see them. AHHHH! beautiful, plain and simple. Take some time to hike one of the many trails in the area, or simply pack a lunch to eat and take in the beautiful scenery
Fondest memory: Stopping at a local gas station and waiting in line to pay for my drink in back of ROBIN WILLIAMS!!!!
Have a walk in the realxed Aspen town.
Fondest memory: Located high in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 7,815 feet, Aspen sits 200 miles southwest of Denver. With about 6,300 year-round residents, it’s a unique community, surrounded by the White River National Forest in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Favorite thing: A 6 mile trail to a beautiful alpine lake. The trail passes through meadows of wildflowers, in the summer anyway. In May, the flowers have yet to bloom, but it was still a nice hike,