Well there is no such thing, cheap and Aspen don’t go in the same sentence – Aspen and expensive go in the same sentence together. This place oozes chichi cool. Ritzy playground for the rich. And so what if I like it. I like to pretend to be rich, and maybe I’ll see Mariah Carey shopping, not that I’m a huge fan or anything. But there certainly is a reputation and allure of Aspen as a famous ski town, that comes with being so exclusive, far away and pricey. But you can visit without breaking the bank.
Aspen is one of those places that is nice to visit, don’t know if I could afford to live there. Kinda of like San Francisco in my book, love the town not the prices – but you pay for what you get. Where I am from in Indiana its the round about capital of the world, Carmel, Indiana. Home to over 100 traffic circles or roundabouts, more than any other city in the US in 2016. Most urban infrastructure and pedestrian friendly measures are being carried out in wealthy areas with large tax bases for these types of projects take money. Right away when you arrive in Aspen you are greeted with a traffic circle, I think this says a lot, it’s not no stinking traffic light. Not only are there traffic circles but it has quite a history of being bike friendly and pedestrian friendly in certain areas of the town. The pedestrian mall, with an almost out door feel that is very organic, I would like to see them extending this in the future to other urban blocks. I do like Aspen’s Pedestrian Mall, built in the 70’s that is 5 blocks of no vehicle traffic, full of shopping and restaurants. http://www.aspenmod.com/places/pedestrian-mall/
I like the high prices that this mountain town calls for, I bought a tooth brush at an old school pharmacy in town, and it was like $5 dollars, all the more to appreciate the little things. When I was there in the summer of 2014, a gallon of gas was like $4.79, and I saw several fancy electric golf carts that people run around town in, another charming slow life appeal of Aspen. I also saw this old lady who is clearly an activist, she had peace signs and other propaganda on her car, it was a statement, practically an art car.
That brings about the peace love and hippie side of Aspen, where intellectuals gather at the Aspen Ideas Fest every summer on a campus of modernist buildings. Don’t forget this is also Hunter S. Thompson county, the huge art community that has always had a presence in Aspen, you can go down to the Woody Creek Tavern on your way out of town and drink one for Hunter, he used to hang out there and live in Pitkin county as well as run for sheriff in Pitkin county, trying to basically take over the small town with his friends. Here is a link to a shrine for Hunter: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hunter-s-thompson-shrine Also artist Peter Max spends some time in Aspen, as well as many others I’m sure.
We drove from Denver on a Friday, about 1pm – get out of town time. and stayed in Aspen Friday night, went skiing in the morning and driving that afternoon back to Denver, a nice quick trip. I think we even went to the art museum before we left. I only did a handful of long runs, and did the half day pass. Totally worth it, great exercise and beautiful scenery. But how much does it really cost to go skiing in Aspen for the weekend.
Last time I went there, in April right before they closed, mind you this was the last weekend for skiing before Snowmass Village shuts down for the season. Here is roughly what I spent:
- $158.52 on lodging with AAA discount.
- skis, boots, helmets: $64.45 per person. ($128.90 for two people)
- lift pass: $124 with taxes per person, only skied half a day, got reimbursement for half day pass (got to start early for this, $38 dollar credit, so $124 – $38 = $86 times two = $172 (for two people). This includes the credit card that is your ski pass/lift ticket, its called the Aspen Card that costs $10, and I can bring back next year and save.
- Bought ski goggles and chap stick: $51.78
- tee shirts for my sisters kids: $68
- Another $14.51 on food, this is by no means all the food budget, I think we bought some food at a cafe in town, and also went to the Aspen Brewing company and some other places.
Grand Total: $435.19 for lift tickets, rental, hotel and lots of fun. And that’s Starting from Denver, that would not include gas money getting there or most of your food budget. There is a small grocery store to stock up at, called city market.
But certainly no means cheap!!! — that’s probably as cheap as you are going to get for a one time deal, and you don’t buy a ski pass and spend several days there. It would take several days to make up a season pass, but if you have a place to stay it would be totally worth it. I understand that spending $500 on one weekend, not even a full weekend, is probably out of reach for most people on short notice, but it’s always good to save money for things like vacation and pay for them in cash, don’t go into debt to pay for a vacation. It will mean so much more if you earn it before hand and pay for it in cash.
Hotels in Aspen aren’t cheap and there are several times of the year it gets really expensive and crowded, like during the X-games and Christmas is really expensive. We went 4/9/2016, the last weekend for skiing at Aspen, this was a Snowmass Village and Buttermilk the easiest on Aspen Mountain was already closed for the season. Planning on hitting the up Buttermilk next year.
I have stayed at the following hotels, all about $150 dollars per night in Aspen. Now most times I have gone in the off season, AKA not winter. And in Winter there are varying times when the rooms are super expensive, so you’ll want to plan it out to find a low rate. Sometimes going 3/14 can be several hundreds of dollars more than a night on 3/15, one day later and snow conditions are relatively good, but you are not going to get that powder snow of earlier in the season usually starting around Thanksgiving.
- Aspen Mountain Chalet – http://www.mountainchaletaspen.com/ – has a pretty good free breakfast
- Aspen Mountain Lodge – http://aspenmountainlodge.com/ – I think I stayed here during the summer during labor day weekend after backpacking, so it seemed pretty nice compared to sleeping on the ground
- Too bad Aspen Mountain House is closed now, that place was decent.
- St. Mortiz Lodge – http://www.stmoritzlodge.com – in the middle of ski season, a cheap room can be: Standard Lodge Rooms down to only $242.00 per night.
Lastly, the skiing is fun, and its a break from the lines of the front range. When driving to Aspen on I-70, after Keystone and Breckenridge there is less traffic and the type of drivers you see changes, just different types of folks looking to go somewhere out of the way, to find a calmer place to get away from it all. Not so rushed, and not trying to go up into the mountains and back all in one day, sometimes these people with their ski racks, seem so rushed. I’m not one of those people to fly in to Pitkin county airport on my own personal jet, either.
After the slopes close and before summer, you can guess why they call it mud season. But its by no means not worth going, you just have to find other things to do other than ski. Art is a big one, I would suggest visiting the Shigeru Ban designed art museum in Aspen. https://www.aspenartmuseum.org/ Below you can see several photos I took of my visit to the museum and of the exhibit that was dedicated to Shigeru Ban’s humanitarian work, very cool architecture exhibit.
the Belly Up, you might be able to check out a cool concert, if it’s not already sold out.
Again this is a good time to find a cheap hotel room here. You’ll get to see the sleepy side of Aspen by visiting during this time.
Camping can be scarce due to popularity or closed due to bear activity, specifically I am talking about the areas around Maroon Lake, https://rootsrated.com/stories/5-top-spots-car-camping-around-aspen I would say make sure you check the all the car sites before you drive off, we thought it was full but we found a small site that was overlooked by the many people trying to find a tent campsite at 5pm on a Saturday night in the summer.
One of the best backpacking trips in the state is the Conundrum Hot Springs hike. Some say its over rated for how popular and crowded it has become, but the challenging hike is worth the outcome. http://www.denverpost.com/2012/08/20/williams-conundrum-hot-springs-not-for-the-faint-of-heart/
Aspen Real Estate:
In 2011 Aspen was the most expensive real estate, that means more than Manhattan? That is crazy!
From wikipedia: Aspen was the most expensive place to buy real estate in the US in 2011. Aspen is a mixture of high-end luxury estates and condos intermixed with single-family homes and mobile home parks. As of March 2011, the lowest-priced single-family home on the market was a trailer for $559,000.
As of June 2015, the median listing price for homes or condos for sale in Aspen is $5,081,388 or $897 a sq ft according to Trulia. It is not uncommon to see listing prices of the higher end homes reaching the mid-eight figures.In a 2015 survey of U.S. ski resort towns, Aspen was listed as having the second most expensive rentals, with a one-bedroom averaging $1,750. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspen,_Colorado]