Hitting The Slopes Then The Aspen Bars
From Ski Apres To Nightlife, Here's Your Party Guide
There's romance in Aspen worthy of a champagne celebration.
It is a playpen as well as a playground, a mountain for mayhem as much as money, a haven for hotties as much as headliners.
The bottom line is, you don't have to be famous or even particularly rich to truly enjoy Aspen.
Sure, the place has had more celebrities pass through than the Betty Ford Clinic. People from Bill Clinton to Jimmy Buffet have skied on its slopes. (And don't you think THEY know how to party in this town!)
There are even celebrity shrines right on the mountain – Elvis Presley in a grove of trees just below Back of Bell 3, Marilyn Monroe on a cat-track above Elvis and Jerry Garcia in a grove of spruce trees to skiers' right on Ruthie's Run after you unload from the FIS chair.
But there's also a quaint spot for those who have mastered the "singles" line, a secluded porch swing between Walsh's and Hyrup's. And Aspen comes with plenty of opportunities to find someone with which to swing.
Bookmark Aspen as a premier party place. Its bar scene is so vibrant, it's a wonder people ever make it out to the slopes. Some, in fact, don't. Or at least they don't look as if the did, all dressed up like at the bars like at an Oscar party at a time when others are just coming down off the mountain.
Recently, the area has started to cater to the Gen-X crowd. For years, Aspen Mountain did not allow snowboarding but that's now changed. In fact, Aspen hosts an annual youth party for two weekends. Called Spring Jam, it's a carnival-type atmosphere featuring extreme demonstrations, live music and more (March 16-18 and 23-25). In 2013, Aspen once again hosts the ESPN Winter X-Games (Jan 24-27).
This is a festive place, all right. It hosts several festivals a year. Mid-January's Winterskol has sporting events, parades and concerts. Filmfest is a series of film events in April. The Aspen Music Festival, which runs from June thru the middle of August, features concerts from international performers. July and early August brings the Dance Aspen Festival. The Gay and Lesbian Ski Week is in the winter. So as you can see, it's a year-round party.
Powder-Packed Mountain Facts:
• Lift Ticket Prices: 2-day $202 (7 day advance, $214 at the window), 3-day $300 ($318 at the window).
Aspen is located in the Roaring Fork Valley and is comprised of four mountains. They are close to one another and are connected by a free shuttle, but it's best to divide up the mountains into different days. For mountain-hopping convenience, it's tough to beat a company called ASC; for $5, it will transport your equipment from one location to another, ready to go the next day.
Aspen Mountain. More advanced skiing and snowboarding, packed with moguls.
Highlands. High-speed lifts and varied terrain.
Buttermilk. Home to smooth, rolling hills, it's best for beginners and carving-seeking boarders. Beware of the many kids. This is where the X-Games will be held, so there are intermediate and advance runs, as well.
Snowmass. Known for wide-open runs, Snowmass is primarily for those of intermediate-level skill. The quiet princess of Aspen, it 's huge at 4,406 feet (giving it the longest vertical terrain in the U.S.) and incredibly varied. It actually had more skier visits last season (740,241) than the other three area mountains combined. Yet, it never really felt overcrowded. The Super Dragon Halfpipe is a snowboarding attraction.
We're Here! Getting To Aspen
It's possible to fly directly into Aspen. The airport is served by United, America West and Northwest Jet Airlink but airborne traffic jams can cause hours of frustrating delay.
A good alternative is Eagle County Airport. It's about 90 minutes door-to-door and is served by all major U.S. airlines. Traveling from Denver is a 220-mile (3 1/2-hour) journey across I-70 and Highway 82. From there, Colorado Mountain Express (800-525-6363) provides ground transportation from Denver. If the airlines got you there long before your luggage, then obtain a voucher from the claims office; this can be cashed in for clothes and equipment in town until your own stuff arrives.
RFTA is the free bus system serving Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Walking through downtown is a treat (although parking is a real pain) and the pedestrian mall is jumping.
Aspen is an old mining town founded in the 1800s, and strict building codes have helped it maintain its rustic charm.
PubClubbing on the South Shore, Aspen Nightlife Guide
This scene is typical of the party Aspen hosts away from the slopes.
There are more than 100 bars in the Aspen/Snowmass area covering all types of entertainment possibilities. This is our guide for where to see, be seen, have drinks, eat some food and maybe even get lucky.
The Little Nell is an awesome place to people watch. Everybody who quit skiing after lunch goes there and somehow they managed to sneak back to their condos to get their fur coats and diamond jewelry. This is where to head when it's time to plant the skis or board. Next door is Ajax Tavern, a slightly less popular alternative.
The best bar in town is Club Chelsea. There are classic rock/blues bands in the main area and the steamiest hot techno-grind rave room in the side basement. From a single male's perspective, there's something for everyone here – older gals grinding upstairs and the babies dripping downstairs. Anyone you see on the mountain will pass throughout these doors at least once before the weekend is over.
The Belly Up (formerly the Double Diamond and for those who go back a way, the Paradise) has great music in a very nondescript, black carpeted, bland environment. If Freddi and the Fishsticks play then line up – it's Jimmy Buffett's "cover name" band.
Strike out with the local girls at Cooper Street Pier or the Roaring Fork Tavern. McStorlie's Pub is just like you'd expect, as Guinness and laughter abound.
The Tippler used to be the perennial drunken pickup dance joint for the younger set but it seems to be struck by mysterious fires or other calamities every few years.Like now.
For shooting pool instead of bull, Eric's is the place. Actually, it's kind of lame (too smoky) but is popular with the youngsters. It has great pool tables, good beer and a cigar bar attached.
For food, the best "homestyle" food is at Little Annie's, a classic rustic tavern with great prices and fantastic seafood and steak dishes. Visitors to Aspen MUST have burger at the Red Onion, Aspen's oldest bar that is famous for its jello shots. Aspen's equivalent of the "Last Chance Saloon" is Mother Lode. Rick's is best for post-midnight grub.