SUMMERTIME IN SNOWMASS COMBINES PAMPERING AND ADRENALINE-FUELED ADVENTURE, WHIMSY AND GRAVITAS—AND JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF COWBOY.
Ghada Amer’s “Love Grave” at Anderson Ranch Arts Center near Snowmass. PHOTO BY CLAUDIA ZACHARIAS
RIM TRAIL SOUTH SCRIBES STEEP SWITCHBACKS THROUGH GROVES OF ASPEN and fields of yellow sunflowers, with views of snowless emerald ski slopes in the distance. Our destination is an overlook called Spiral Point, where a giant stone circle inlaid with a yin yang symbol begs a classic Snowmass selfie. I threaten to strike a downward dog; the teenagers in our brood threaten mutiny if I embarrass them so. We soak in the 360-degree views of Snowmass Village, the surrounding peaks and Ziegler Reservoir below before heading back down.
Yin yang is an ancient Chinese philosophy that contrary forces can be interconnected, complementary and interdependent. I ponder this notion while sipping a handcrafted margarita paired with tableside guacamole on the deck of Venga Venga on the Snowmass Mall, the resort’s original 1960s base area. The libation cools me down after the exertion of our long, hot trek in the sun. Over the course of a July trip to Snowmass, our own cycle of yin yang plays out—in the most delightful ways.
Mountain biking can be low-key. PHOTO BY JEREMY SWANSON
We take a gondola to midmountain and transfer to the Elk Camp chairlift. On the way to the 11,325-foot summit, we watch downhill mountain bikers clad in elbow pads, knee pads, chest and back protectors, and full-face helmets—like shadow stormtroopers on fat bikes—riding full-throttle in the Snowmass bike park, which comprises 25 miles and 3,000 vertical feet of trails. The Roaring Fork Valley, including the bike park, is part of Colorado’s first, and only, IMBA Gold Level Ride Center. The summit affords a backside view of the red sandstone Maroon Bells. It feels odd, and liberating, to be standing at the top of a ski mountain in sneakers. We download to midmountain for Sunset Tuesday at Elk Camp, a farm-to-table dinner with live music on the deck. My oldest is turning 21, so we celebrate with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
The spa at Viceroy Snowmass is divine. PHOTO COURTESY OF VICEROY SNOWMASS
The next day, we fuel up on giant savory crepes from The Crepe Shack (according to the kids, the crepes are bussin’) in the new $600 million Snowmass Base Village, which is connected to the original Snowmass Mall by a brightly colored gondola known as “the Skittles.” We rent mountain bikes with knobby tires, drop seats and shocks to smooth out any bumpy bits on the Tom Blake trail. My brand of mountain biking requires a helmet, yes, but not full-body armor. We pedal through meadows of wildflowers on a trail that’s oriented across the mountain (not straight down the fall line like the bike park). It is exhilarating nonetheless. Around one curve, I whiz past a small wooden sign that says “Hahnenkamm,” which gives me pause. After the 9-mile ride, my legs are noodles.
Don a cowboy hat to blend in at the Snowmass rodeo. PHOTO BY TAMARA SUSA
If a heart-thumping mountain bike ride at altitude is the yin, I’m ready for a little yang. Inside the luxurious 7,000-square-foot spa sanctuary at Viceroy Snowmass, I prep for my massage with a soak in a mosaic-tiled hot pool replete with a waterfall. After nearly an hour of blissful kneading, my therapist adds a hot oil scalp treatment to quiet any lingering mental stress. Afterward, to decompress even more deeply, if that’s possible, I stretch out on a lounge chair in the candlelit meditative relaxation lounge over a glass of bubbly. I exhale to the soothing sound of water rushing from the stone-filled infinity pool that centers the lounge.
Spiral Point features a yin yang stone circle with 360-degree views. SCENIC PHOTO BY TAMARA SUSA
There’s a yin and yang to the art scene too. The Collective (thecollectivesnowmass.com), a community hub with yard games, splash pads, game lounge and events—from salsa dancing to yoga to a full moon silent disco—has the kind of art Gen Z can vibe to: a selfie den. Instagramworthy backdrops range from a room of mirrors to a multicolored pastel fur wall. We find a more cerebral mix of art at nearby Anderson Ranch Arts Center, which attracts artists like Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei and photographer Tyler Mitchell (who captured Kamala Harris in Converse sneakers for the cover of Vogue). We tour the grounds and a series of outdoor sculptures, including Ghada Amer’s “Love Grave,” an earthwork featuring the letters L-O-V-E carved deep into a grassy knoll. “Go ahead, climb right in,” says Katherine Roberts, Anderson Ranch’s director of marketing and communications. We do, pondering the yin yang dichotomy evoked by the artwork—of love and death, eros and thanatos—literally from six feet under.
Cookies at Aurum come with a hunk of raw dough COOKIE PHOTO COURTESY OF DESTINATION HOSPITALITY
Snowmass is not all yin and yang. At the Snowmass rodeo, mingling with locals in cowboy boots and Stetsons, we discover a fair amount of yeehaw. We watch barrel racing, bull riding and the fan-favorite calf scramble, where dozens of pint-sized cowpokes attempt to pluck ribbons attached to the tails of calves galloping around the stadium. Yeehaw, indeed.
From the top of the Elk Camp chairlift, you can spy the Maroon Bells from the backside. SCENIC PHOTO BY TAMARA SUSA
Viceroy Snowmass (viceroysnowmass.com) in Snowmass Base Village is an ultraluxe basecamp that’s home to Richard Sandoval’s Toro, with contemporary Latin American fare, and Nest, an alfresco bar and grill with a heated pool and two black-bottomed infinity soaking tubs, terraced so one trickles soothingly into the next. Ideal for a family stay near the Snowmass Mall, the resort’s OG base area, Timberline Condominiums (thetimberline.com) are handsomely appointed lodgings ranging from studios to three-bedroom units—all just steps from the summer music concerts staged on Fanny Hill. Walk to the Snowmass Mall for dinner or just sidle over to the property’s The Edge Restaurant & Bar for alpine-inspired cuisine.
An Aspen sushi staple for nearly three decades, Kenichi (kenichiaspen.com) is now serving up its sushi and pan-Asian cuisine in Snowmass Base Village. Sit at the solid walnut sushi bar or tuck into a booth surrounded by traditional Japanese shoji screens. Start off with a saketini (vodka, sake, sliced cucumber and ginger), and don’t miss the wagyu beef seared tableside on a 1,000-degree stone. Aurum Aspen Snowmass (aurumaspensnowmass.com) opened in Snowmass Base Village in summer 2021, (this ski-town favorite also has venues in Steamboat and Breckenridge), offering seasonal New American fare from chef de cuisine Allan Whitehouse. Order the Korean barbecue but save room for warm chocolate chip cookies and milk. Il Poggio (ilpoggio.webs.com) is a foodie landmark on the Snowmass Mall. The ambiance is cozy, the Italian cuisine authentic and the wine list extensive.
In the heart of Snowmass Base Village, the Lounge at Limelight Hotel Snowmass (limelighthotels.com/snowmass) has become the resort’s de facto social hub. For après, the lounge has live music, craft beers and artisanal wood-fired pizzas served in a convivial atmosphere. Inside the bright and airy JÜS Snowmass (jusaspen.com), steps from the Limelight, enjoy a bottle of handcrafted cold-pressed juice with views of the valley through floor-to-ceiling windows. Both the mojito and ginger beet martini are healthy, nonalcoholic blends of fruits and vegetables. Nest at Viceroy Snowmass might be the hippest place for a cocktail, savored poolside from a comfy turquoise chaise lounge. Try the French 75, a melange of Woody Creek gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and Champagne.
Celebrating 30 years of live music, the Snowmass Free Concert Series (gosnowmass.com) returns this summer, Thursday evenings (June 16 to Aug. 25). Performers include Hazel Miller, The Spazmatics and the Freddy Jones Band. In addition to a spruced-up venue on Fanny Hill, you’ll find “Electric Dandelions,” 28-foot-tall steel and acrylic sculptures that come to life after dark with colorful LED animations.
At Gorsuch (gorsuch.com), you’ll find apparel from Perfect Moment, Herno and Moncler; suede totes from Brunello Cucinelli; and Dede Johnston bone china adorned with tiny skiers. Snowmass has shops from mainstream brands like Patagonia and The North Face as well as unique boutiques like Local Color/Local Rebels, which carries pretty blouses from Johnny Was and embroidered leather jackets from Italian brand GMS 75.