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  • Writer's picturethefamilyvacationenthusiast

Snowmass Mountain Guide

Getting Here

There are two arrival airports that the majority of families choose to get to Snowmass. Cost and convenience are two considerations when deciding which is right for your family.

Option 1: Flying into Aspen

In recent years, Aspen/Pitken County Airport (ASE) has added new carriers to their airport. The airlines that fly into Aspen now include United, American Airlines, and Delta. Despite several airlines servicing the airport, there is still a limited number of cities offering direct flights into Aspen. Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, Chicago, and San Francisco are among the lucky cities with direct access to Snowmass.

Our first family trip we chose to fly into Denver and rent a car to drive to Snowmass. Although this option saved us a lot of money, we ultimately won't chose to do it again. Snow storms threaten to close I-70 and would pose a huge problem for those choosing to drive. In addition, we seriously underestimated the traffic we would encounter getting out of Denver. What my GPS told me would be a 3.5 hour drive became 5 hours sitting through several sections of bumper to bumper traffic. We now gladly pay extra to avoid this drive and fly directly into Aspen airport.

Option 2: Flying into Denver

Our next trip to Snowmass we chose to fly United with a connection in Denver. We chose this route due to the frequency of United flights into Aspen in the event that an issue arose with our flight due to inclement weather or mechanical issues. We were prepared in the worst case to hire a transfer from Denver airport to Snowmass if we weren't able to be rebooked. Luckily, no flight issues occurred and we had a smooth connection in Denver and landed in Aspen on time.

Arrival in Aspen Airport requires you to exit the plane onto the tarmac and walk inside the terminal to baggage claim. The short distance from baggage claim to the airport exit and our waiting shuttle was appreciated with two small children and all our ski gear. Equally convenient is the curbside baggage drop offered complimentary to United customers. The expedited the process to get into the TSA screening lines which unfortunately were not as efficient. We now understand why the hotel shuttles advise to arrive early, even with TSA PreCheck and will heed that advice in the future.


Guest Services

Employees are strategically located throughout the base village to assist families with locating their lesson meeting points, ticket kiosks, childcare or answer any questions that might be on your mind.

Complimentary Mountain Tours

Snowmass offers several different mountain tours departing from various areas around the resort. For the environmentalists, there are daily tours from the top of Elks Camp Chairlift focusing on winter wildlife, habitats, and avalanche education. For a more standard orientation to the mountain, Ambassador Tours depart daily at 11am from the Top of Sam's Knob (also home to the mouth-watering restaurant Sam's mentioned later).

On-Mountain Photographers

Photographers are located at the top of several major lifts at Snowmass and mid-mountain off the Elk Camp Chairlift. All sessions are free and typical hours are from 9am-3pm. All photos taken during the day are posted in an online gallery on the Aspen Snowmass website.

Ski Rentals

Four Mountain Sports provides a convenient location for renting equipment for the whole family. Standard rental packages include skis, boots, and poles or snowboard and boots, but you can also add a helmet rental for an additional fee. An added benefit of renting through Four Mountain Sports is they offer free overnight ski storage at an easy location at the base of Elks Camp Gondola so you aren't left schlepping your family's ski gear to your accommodation.

Lessons and Ski School

Options for 2-Year Olds

If you are eager to get your child out on snow for their first lessons, the 1-hour private lesson for ages 2+ is for you. This lesson takes place at 8:30am, allowing your child a private experience in the magic carpet learning area before regular child group lessons begin. Parents are welcome to stay for the length of the lesson or utilize that time to get some extra time on snow. Lessons can be combined with daily childcare in The Treehouse, making the whole experience seamless for parents.

Options for 2.5 Year Olds

This combination ski lesson and childcare program is perfect for little learners ages 2.5-3 years. Taking place in a dedicated area outside The Treehouse at Snowmass, this program focuses on exploration and imaginative play through age-appropriate activities. Think building "snow castles," sliding on gentle slopes, and singing wintery songs with friendly instructors. A nice introduction to skiing and building enthusiasm for the sport.

Options for 3+

Traditional full and half day lessons are available for children aged 3 and older. Sessions begin at The Treehouse where helpful staff will help transition your child to their learning group and introduce them to their instructor. These lessons blend time on snow with outdoor breaks and lunch to keep your child engaged throughout the day. The best part? Instructors will get your little one turning during their first lesson with their use of firefighting hoses strategically laid out on snow to get kids working on their turns right away. Note that to participate in these sessions, children must be potty trained. Gear can be rented and stored right on site, making this an ideal choice for families.

Beginner Terrain

The best terrain for younger first-time learners is the magic carpet area directly out front of The Treehouse. This space is dedicated to lessons for younger children, providing them a safe space to begin their skiing journey. Skier's right contains the firehoses, getting your little ones turning and skier's left is the Level 2 area where students can begin working on turning independently before moving on to more challenging terrain.

For older children and adults, the Meadows section at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola is a great area to begin. After riding the gondola up, there is a magic carpet and chairlift combining to make a sizeable learning zone. Working on your technique will no doubt leave you looking for a snack or meal mountainside. The Elk Camp Restaurant is conveniently located at the base of the learning zone for an easy snack. Also located in this area is the Mountain Coaster and Tubing areas.

If you are looking to get a few short runs in with your kids, but don't want to purchase a lift ticket for the day, the in town "Skittles" gondola offers free rides up from the Snowmass lower base village. You are free to do as many loops as you wish. This is a great option to get a few short runs in the morning if you have an afternoon flight out.


There is no shortage of lodging options in Aspen-Snowmass from relative budget-finds (for a hotel in close proximity to a ski resort) like the Mountain Chalet Aspen to multi-bedroom condos at Snowmass, to luxury resort properties including the W and St. Regis located at the base of Aspen.


We chose to stay at Snowmass mainly because it is home to the Treehouse – the only mountain-sponsored childcare program at the four mountains and home to one of two young children’s lesson programs (the other being at Buttermilk).



Picture this: ski-in/ski-out convenience, spacious rooms perfect for families, complimentary round-trip airport transportation, and kids' activities galore – that's what awaits at Limelight Snowmass! Ditch the car and hit the slopes straight from your room, leaving more time for on and off-mountain fun. Let the little ones loose in the dedicated game room or join in for family fun with board games by the fireplace. When tummies rumble, fuel up at the family-friendly onsite lounge, featuring kid-approved options and be sure to indulge in the complimentary breakfast. After a day on the slopes, unwind in the hot tub or continue your adventures at the climbing wall or adjacent ice skating rink. Our personal favorite accommodation in Snowmass.

Viewline Resort Snowmass, Autograph Collection

Located slopeside near the Upper Village, Viewline Resort Snowmass is a convenient option for families. Featuring an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, onsite restaurant and bar, and a spa, this resort may check all the boxes. Perhaps the greatest selling point in the option to redeem a modest amount of Marriott points for free nights, a rarity for slopeside ski accommodations. Before you book, be sure to read through recent hotel reviews that seem to offer some mixed feedback and decide for yourself if this option fits your family's needs.

Stonebridge Condos

If you are looking to ditch the traditional hotel room, in favor of some additional space, Stonebridge Condos are the place for you. Step into spacious one- to four-bedroom condos located near the Village Express Lift, perfect for families or groups seeking their own space. Cozy up by the fireplace after a day on the slopes, enjoy delicious meals prepared in your fully equipped kitchen, and unwind on your private balcony with breathtaking mountain views. Topping off the highlights are an outdoor heated pool and hot tub and an on-site ski shop with ski storage. Nay families choose Stonebridge year after year for a fun and relaxing trip to Snowmass.


W Aspen

If Aspen is your desired home base and don't mind a quick shuttle ride over to Snowmass each day, or you're planning to explore several mountains during your trip, W Aspen is a great option for families. This quirky hotels features rooms with bunk beds, an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, fire pits, on-site restaurant, and fantastic views, all while being in the heart of the culinary and shopping scene in Aspen. If you are lucky enough to be sitting on a large pool of Marriott points, there is the option to redeem them for free nights.

Mountain Chalet Aspen

If you are looking for Aspen accommodations at a more modest price, The Mountain Chalet provides an exceptional value. Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, two blocks from the Silver Queen Gondola, The Mountain Chalet boasts an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna and game room, just like it's more expensive competition. Rounding out the amenities in on-site laundry and a complimentary airport shuttle. Overall, a worthwhile accommodation option for your family's trip.


The Inn at Aspen

Boasting a slopeside location to Buttermilk Mountain (with an excellent children's learning center) and halfway between Aspen Mountain and Snowmass lies The Inn at Aspen. Spacious guest rooms offer a cozy haven, while an outdoor pool, hot tub, and firepit provide après-ski relaxation. Families love the on-site ski rentals and lessons, complimentary shuttle, onsite laundry, and the proximity to all four mountains at Aspen Snowmass. Enjoy delicious meals at Home Team BBQ or unwind in the inviting lobby lounge. With friendly service and genuine hospitality, Inn at Aspen is another great choice for families.

Terrain and Lift Lines

Best for first tracks:

Village Express

Elk Camp Chairlift

Best for shorter lines at peak times:

Big Burn

Sheer Bliss



Don’t miss the daily complimentary s’mores offered at the base of Snowmass.  The queue to get these popular treats can get long, especially around school vacation times.  Our advice is to head over and join the line around 3:15pm (conveniently timing up with group-lesson and childcare end times). 

Another bargain sweet-spot is the $13 Happy Hour pizza deal available at The Limelight Lounge from 3-6pm.  Tables are first come, first serve.  If you don’t manage to snag one right away, you can take advantage of the complimentary cookies and hot chocolate also available daily in the lounge.

Snowmass Village

Another can’t-miss family delight at Snowmass is the Creperie located next to the ice-skating rink (more on this later) and in the heart of the Lower Village.  The menu features a wide-variety of savory and sweet crepes sure to please any palette, especially any young chocolate lovers in your group. 

If your family is looking for a more traditional dining experience, take a ride on the "Skittles" town gondola to Venga Venga.  This Mexican restaurant is a hot spot for après ski and for families.  The food is quick and equally tasty.  Also located on the top of the gondola line is Snowmass Lanes which features bowling and a full dining menu.  Make sure to reserve a lane in advance to avoid any disappointment.



Perched atop Sam's Knob at 10,620 feet, Sam's isn't just a ski-in/ski-out restaurant, it's an experience. Immerse yourself in breathtaking panoramas of the Elk Mountains as you indulge in modern Italian cuisine crafted with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Start with house-made burrata (my personal favorite dish in all of Snowmass) then dive into hand-rolled pastas like Rigatoni Bolognese or indulge in a truly delicious lamb burger. Don't miss the rotating selection of traditional "grandma-style" pizzas for an authentic taste of Italy.

Trade in your ski boots for comfy slippers and settle into plush seating by the fireplace or head straight to your table and enjoy the view. Note: Sam's recently began charging a $50 reservation fee that will be applied toward your final bill. Also, you can rest assured that they offer a 15-minute grace period for all reservations.

Lynn Britt Cabin

Families looking for a unique dining experience at Snowmass can take part in Snowcat Dinners to Lynn Britt Cabin.

Downtown Aspen

If your family is itching to try out the culinary scene in Aspen, there are many options to choose from. 

Paradise Bakery & Cafe

Perhaps the most famous amongst families.  We took the free area shuttle over to downtown Aspen to see what all the buzz was about and it certainly lived up to the hype.  Each ice cream cone we tried was delicious and featured a small cookie on top.  Speaking of cookies, there was a generous variety available and were the perfect slightly soft texture.  A worthwhile excursion indeed.

Ajax Tavern

Nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain, Ajax Tavern strikes a perfect balance between sophistication and family-friendly fun, making it an appealing destination for all ages. While parents indulge in the luxurious flavors of traditional fondue or savor the mouthwatering Ajax Wagyu Double Cheeseburger, little ones are treated to a specially crafted kids' menu complete with their favorite dishes and, of course, indulgent ice cream sundaes.

CP Burger

With its inviting atmosphere and laid-back charm, CP Burger is the perfect spot for families to unwind and indulge in mouthwatering burgers, hand-spun milkshakes, and crispy fries. Whether you're seeking a quick bite after hitting the slopes or a leisurely meal with loved ones, CP Burger's crowd-pleasing menu and casual ambiance cater to all tastes and preferences. From classic cheeseburgers to vegetarian options and kid-friendly meals, there's something for everyone to enjoy.


Indoor Climbing

After a day of skiing and snowboarding, swing by the indoor climbing wall located at the Limelight Hotel for a change of pace. Siblings can climb side-by-side on the 54 foot, 3 lane climbing wall, enjoying 30 minutes of access per session. The climbing wall is open 4-7pm daily and reservations are encouraged.

Ice Skating

Complimentary ice skating sessions are available daily in the heart of the Base Village. Rental skates also come complimentary for both children and adults and skating aides are available for younger children. If your family works up an appetite, The Crepe Shake sits directly next to the ice rink.

Ullr Nights

Several times throughout the winter season, Snowmass puts on Ullr Night celebrations. These evening sessions are jam-packed with family fun including evening mountain coaster sessions, night tubing, snow biking, fire pits, live music, and food and drinks for purchase. This event is always a favorite with my family and we make reservations well in advance to avoid disappointments. Our recommendation is to head straight to the mountain coaster to begin your evening with a ride before any lines form.

Aspen Snowmass Shuttle

If you're looking to explore further than Snowmass Village, hop on one of the complimentary shuttle loops leaving from the parking garage connected to the Limelight Hotel. Shuttle stops include Buttermilk, Aspen-Pitkin Airport and downtown Aspen. The Rubey Park Transit Center stop in downtown Aspen is even enclosed and heated so your family can indulge in a dessert from Paradise Bakery and Cafe without worrying about any cold hands waiting for your bus to arrive.

Breathtaker Alpine Coaster

Located atop the Elk Camp Gondola, The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster is very popular with families. Feel a rush of adrenaline as you speed down the track at speeds up to 28mph! Carts can carry either one or two riders and tickets include up to 3 rides per session. Note that all riders must be atleast 38" tall and drivers must be atleast 54" tall. Don't forget to purchase a picture of your ride from inside the Elk Camp Restaurant.

Snow Tubing

Also located atop the Elk Camp Gondola are the snow tubing lanes. Tubing is serviced by a magic carpet conveyor belt so no need to worry about little legs getting tired hiking up the hill. Riders can go solo or can partake in tandem tubing. Like the coaster, all riders must be 38" to participate. A combined tubing/coaster pass can be purchased at a special combined price.

Pass Options:

There are several passes available to enjoy skiing and snowboarding at Aspen Snowmass:

Ikon Pass

Some Ikon Passes allow for access at Aspen Snowmass, but it important to know exactly what you will get with each pass. The highest tier Ikon Pass (and most expensive) allows for 7 days of skiing at the four Aspen Snowmass mountains without any blackout dates. The only other Ikon Pass that allows for access is the Ikon Base Plus pass which reduces the total access days to 5 and introduces blackout days as well. The Ikon Base Pass and Session Passes do not allow for access at any of the Aspen Snowmass mountains.

Mountain Collective Pass

Like the Ikon Pass, the Mountain Collective Pass offers some access to Aspen Snowmass. Mountain Collective offers their standard first two days of skiing included in the pass price and 50% off all additional ski days. Your pass might also offer lodging discounts at some Snowmass resorts. It is worth a call to find out if your dates and accomodations qualify for the discount.

Aspen Premier Pass

The Aspen Premier Pass is Aspen Snowmass own season pass program. Passes have price tiers and discounts for age groups and affiliations. It is important to read through the benefits of each tier. Thanks to my parents turning 70 this year, their generously discounted Aspen Snowmass season pass netted me 50% off two group ski lessons for my children.

Know Before You Go

  • If your family is looking to take advantage of the complimentary s'mores, bring your s’more ingredients over to toast at the fire pits outside The Limelight Hotel to avoid the over-crowded fire pit located at the base of the mountain.

  • If you are hoping to tackle some of the runs serviced by the Village Express lift, do so first thing. Lift lines can build when children and teen morning lessons begin at 9:30am.

  • Like many big resorts, it is best to take an early lunch (think 11am) and come back out to enjoy shorter lines during the regular lunch hours.

  • Rental ski or snowboard equipment from the mountain includes free ski storage next to the base of the Elk Camp Gondola.

  • The Sky Cab, aka Skittles Gondola, offers free rides if you want to enjoy some short beginner runs with your little learner without purchasing a lift ticket. We chose to utilize this option with our 3-year old to get a couple quick morning runs in before our flight.


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