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A Stamp on the Passport: Skiing Steeps with the Locals at Aspen Highlands

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Once considered Aspen locals’ ski area and best-kept secret, the proverbial cat was let out of the bag when Aspen Highlands officially joined the fabulous Aspen four resorts. With a single Aspen ski pass, you could now access all four ski areas. (Aspens free shuttle bus allows you to park once and ski all of them in a day if you’re up for the quest.) It’s difficult to choose favorites among Aspens posse of ski areas as each has its own distinct personality and attributes, but I have to say, I felt most at home here (Buttermilk resonated best with my son).

Steep Enough to Challenge Any Skier

Let’s start with where it’s located. The mountain is situation in a part of Aspen that offers some of the most stunning views of Maroon Bells as a backdrop. There are steep vertical trails and many of its groomed runs wrap along a ridge that gives you vertigo when you look down.

The 1,040 acres offer challenging runs and a jaw-dropping bowl skiers can access by taking a snow cat, then hiking the ridge. Within the Aspen Highland’s acreage, Aspen Skiing Company recently cleared out brand new trails in the dense wooded area called Lucky Find. You’ll need luck on your side to brave some of these sheer drop offs. Aspen Highlands is definitely a haven for adrenaline seekers who are only satiated with bumps, bowls and big-time steep terrain.

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Take the Tour

As we do at every ski area the first time we visit, I am never disappointed by taking the complimentary guided tour offered at each Aspen ski area. It’s a great way to orientate yourself to the mountain, gain tips on where the best runs are for your preferred type of terrain, a bit of history and meet fellow visitors. Aspen Highlands also offers special tours on the history of the mountain and town and a Highlands Bowl Tour. Check the website for days, times and meeting location.  Because Aspen Snowmass as a whole is all about going above and beyond, at the tour meeting spot, the mountain ambassadors will greet you with Clif bars and hot apple cider or tea. We learned at a certain lift, on certain day and time they grill free hotdogs. (You’ll have to take the tour to find out!)

Finding our place (and our lunch)

Letting my fifth grader set the speed for our time there, I was quite content on the groomed trails and there were plenty to find. In our 11-day trip to the area, we kept coming back to Aspen Highlands. Because of its locals’ place roots, you’ll still find it has the most down-to-earth vibe. You’ll feel comfortable bringing a brown bag lunch or grabbing something to go at the Merry-Go-Round. Or if you want to step up your culinary game, visit the infamous Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro for a little taste of Switzerland, renowned for its raclette, classic fondue and apple strudel.

Be sure to check out our other visits to Aspen Snowmass, including Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. 

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 Follow along with Lori’s Passport journey here.