Colorado Rocky Mountains, United States

The Colorado Rockies are the captivating poster-boy for world-class skiing. Four monumental mountains – Snowmass, Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – comprise of 336 trails over more than 10,700 acres of powder. However, adrenaline seekers can find exhilarating escapades year-round, with kayaking, disc golf, biking, hiking, hot-air ballooning and hunting all on the pulse-quickening agenda when the slopes are green. The city’s cultural scene has also flourished, largely due to jet-set Aspen’s celebrity and billionaire-luring charisma. The sleepy mountain town has glittering gallery and gastronomy scenes, noted film festivals and iron-clad members’ clubs. Vail, the largest ski area in North America, also hosts film and arts festivals and offers plenty of upmarket resort clubs for an exclusive apres piste. Snowmass Village – Aspen's underdog cousin – is turning equally elite, but no matter how high end the Rockies’ become, its vibrant wildlife and Herculean high-risers will ensure it stays untamed.

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When to go

The best time to visit in summer is from mid-August until Labor Day weekend, if you want to avoid the crowds. In winter, there’s less congestion on the slopes from New Year to late January, but April is a balmy and buzzy ski season. The Aspen Film Festival (www.aspenfilm.org) is held from 25–29 September annually – visit then for exclusive screenings and highbrow hobnobbing.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Aspen Pitkin County Airport (www.aspenairport.com) is the closest domestic airport – served by United Express and American Airlines just a 15-minute drive from Aspen or Snowmass Village. Eagle County Airport is the nearest domestic airport to Vail, a 40-minute drive away. Denver International Airport (http://flydenver.com) is the closest hub for transatlantic flights and flights across the Pacific, a four-hour drive from Aspen or Snowmass Village, and a two-hour drive from Vail.
  • Trains

    The nearest train station is Glenwood Springs Amtrak, where the California Zephyr line arrives from Chicago, Denver or San Francisco. From the station it’s an hour’s drive to reach Aspen, Vail or Snowmass Village.
  • Automobiles

    You can reach Aspen, Vail and Snowmass Village from Denver, via Glenwood Springs on Highway I 70. For scenic overlooks and breathtaking mountain views, travel to Aspen and Snowmass Village on the Independence Pass, which opens from late May to early November annually (dependent on snowfall). This route soars 3,667m into the Sawatch Range and you can reach it from Denver by taking the Copper Mountain exit off Highway I 70 through Ledville. A car – preferably a four-wheel drive – is essential for reaching remote mountain climes and navigating uneven terrain. Avis have car-hire kiosks at Denver, Eagle County and Aspen Pitkin airports.