Your tickets are booked, rooms reserved, you’ve found yourself on a ski vacation with your tribe… and you don’t ski. Whether it’s an aversion to heights and chairlifts or your knees have had enough downhill for one lifetime, there is no need to feel left out! A ski vacation without the skis – or snowboard – is just as much fun and a lot less exhausting lugging around all that heavy gear. Sometimes the best adventures are off the mountain anyway.
Looking for an up-close experience with the nature of Colorado? The naturalists of Aspen Center for Environment Studies (ACES) lead daily snowshoe tours along the mountain waterways and through the forests of Snowmass. Tours are offered at 10:00am and 1:00pm at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola and start at $41 with a lift ticket or season pass. The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster is also at the top of the Gondola for those with a need for speed.
If that high speed expedition through the woods is more your style, then you and your non-skiing companions will definitely want to head over to Krabloonik for a dog sled ride. Explore the wilderness from a sled pulled by 10 Alaskan huskies, either as a morning or twilight tour. End the day with a gourmet meal at the 100-year-old, gas-lit log cabin restaurant for a dining experience unique to Snowmass.
Ok, so you aren’t into the style of skiing that requires a chairlift but maybe flat land skiing is in the cards. Snowmass is home to one of the largest free groomed cross-country ski systems in North America. Over 60 miles of trails for all levels wind out from the Snowmass Cross Country Center on the Snowmass Golf course. Cross country ski equipment can be rented right there and the center shares a space with the best place to fuel or replenish your day on the track, Black Saddle Bar & Grille.
You may have opted out of skiing but you don’t have to opt out of on-mountain lunch plans. Elk Camp Restaurant and Sam’s are two on-mountain restaurants accessible without skis, via the lift. The new Sam’s features modern Italian with stunning views of the soaring peaks around Snowmass – be sure to make a reservation before you head up. Elevated dining experiences like Lynn Britt Cabin are a snowcat ride away for a unique gourmet meal under the stars.
On Friday night the mountain doesn’t turn in with the sunset. At the top of the Elk Camp Gondola, the mountain comes alive for Ullr Nights. The restaurant serves locally sourced meals alongside live music, while outside there is tubing, s’mores, snow biking and the Breathtaker Coaster. Gondola tickets are $10 for Ullr Nights, while food and activities can be purchased à la carte.
Newly completed Snowmass Base Village is home to The Rink. Open daily from noon-9pm, The Rink features not just run of the mill ice skating, but themed skating nights, Bumper Cars and free curling series, Game of Stones. The Rink is surrounded by cozy fireplaces, perfect for s’mores, which you can get free from 3:30 – 4:30pm every day at the branded s’mores carts. Above it all at The Rink towers Colorado’s largest indoor climbing wall at Limelight Snowmass. Guests of all ages at can test their skills on the wall, which features an auto-belay system with three different lanes and six routes of varying degrees of difficulty. For happy hour specials and live music to round it all out, check out Limelight Hotel and The Collective.
If the weather rolls in and you are looking for some time inside, there are great art classes and speaker series available down the road at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. This historic campus is a premier destination for art making, workshops, lectures even a free tour around the studios or lunch among the artists in the Café. For a more casual creative setting check out Cocktails and Collage or Painting Peaks at Straight Line Studio Thursday nights in Base Village. And don’t miss the eclectic speaker series at the Collective. Throughout the year, local organizations such as Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Pitkin County Library, the Thunder River Theatre Company, Aspen Film, and more, round out The Collective’s programming, each presented free or for a nominal fee.
No trip to a Snowmass is complete without a little self-care. There are several spa options, yoga classes at Viceroy Snowmass and the Snowmass Recreation Center. Be sure to find some time in your busy schedule to sit back and relax in the mountains.
While our resort is world-renowned for the on-mountain activities, sometimes time out of ski boots is even more memorable. Your skiing companions may even be jealous of all your non-skiing activities and take a day off the slopes to enjoy all Snowmass has to offer.