High Life

15 Exclusive Ways to Enjoy Aspen's Mountain Lifestyle

Distill your own whiskey, book a private day of snowcat skiing, or luxuriate in nature; it's all here, ranked from effortless to adrenaline-pumping.

By Daliah Singer December 16, 2019 Published in the Holiday 2019–2020 issue of Aspen Sojourner

Marble Distilling Company's barrel room in Carbondale

From Laid Back to High Stakes

In need of some serious chill time? Hire Aspen Shakti to craft a Sanctuary Space Setting ($500–$700 ) before you arrive at your hotel room, condo, or home. The crew will clear your space with sage and palo santo, then transform it with flowers, candles, and crystals into a haven that invites meditation (pillow included) and deep conversation. 

Marketed as the world’s smallest speakeasy, the hidden space inside the bar at Jimmy’s plays host to the Mini Jimmy’s Experience: an hour-long, private tasting for two of the spirit (mezcal, perhaps?) or wine of your choosing led by General Manager Jessica Lischka or Beverage Director Greg Van Wagner. Our suggestion: Sign up for a high-end Japanese whisky tasting (from $175 per person), during which you’ll sample four limited and rare selections from the likes of Yamazaki, Ichiro (Chichibu), and Hibiki. Book through Airbnb Experiences or directly through the restaurant. 

Stave off winter’s chill with Marble Distilling Company’s Do It Yourself Distilling package. Over the course of six days—$12,000 for up to six people; rooms at the Distillery Inn upstairs (from $259 ) are additional—aspiring booze makers craft their own whiskey or bourbon on-site. You’ll do everything from mashing grains to stripping them to distilling the final product; a 53-gallon cask will go into barrel storage, but you’ll leave with a three-gallon cask to age—and taste—at home. Visit as often as you’d like, or just when your product is ready for bottling (expect about 250 bottles) and to sign your labels. 


Make first tracks all day with Aspen Mountain Powder Tours.

You’ll want to bundle up for your private ride for two with Above It All Balloon Company ($3,100 ), when you’ll take in the sun rising over Snowmass valley’s snowcapped peaks from a unique vantage point. Expect to float up at least 1,000 feet on the hour-long ride. Once back on solid ground, warm up with a Champagne brunch (there’ll be hot cocoa and coffee, too).

Give your legs a day off from skiing (they’ve earned it) with an Upland Bird Hunting tour through Aspen Outfitting Company ($2,800 for one to two people; available until early March). The full-day excursion takes you about one-and-a-half hours from Aspen to a private ranch, where you’ll familiarize yourself with the equipment during clay target practice. Then, follow pointers and Labs into the fields to (hopefully) catch some pheasant, partridge, and quail. After a lunch break in the lodge, head out for an afternoon shooting session before being driven back to Aspen. (St. Regis Aspen guests can add on a multicourse, game-inspired dinner afterward prepared by Executive Chef Laurent Pillard.) 

Discover the secrets of top-notch slope grooming through The Little Nell’s Snowcat Academy, as you learn how to navigate the cat and lay down lines of corduroy on Buttermilk Mountain. Up to two passengers (ages 5 and older) can join the three-hour session, and the $875 price tag includes hot cocoa and treats. Caveat: You must be staying at the Nell or one of the Limelight Hotels. 

Getting fresh tracks on the backside of Aspen Mountain is always a special experience with Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, but there’s an even more premium way to go: Fill a snowcat with up to 11 of your friends for a private rental ($5,388 ). A gourmet lunch in a mountainside cabin, snacks, and drinks are included. Little Nell guests who book this outing through the hotel gain a complimentary chair massage at lunch, plus wine pairings. 

Silverton Mountain is a four-hour drive on winding roads from Aspen—unless you travel there by air. With Aspen Heli Skiing, up to four people can charter a bird for the 45-minute flight from Aspen to the San Juan Mountains to experience a full day of heli-skiing ($17,990 ) across Silverton Mountain’s heli-ski zone. Among the nearly 30,000 acres, there’s terrain to suit all ability levels. Equipment and lunch are included, whether it’s a sit-down at the mountaintop chalet or on-the-go for those who want to squeeze in more runs. Either way, you’ll be back in Aspen in time for après—with plenty of stories to share. 


Away from It All

Because sometimes the biggest luxury is peace and quiet 

Luxury doesn’t always come with a price tag. It can be found, instead, while hiking or snowshoeing a wintry trail, the trees muffling the mind’s ticker-tape of to-do lists and worries. We asked Jim Kravitz, naturalist programs director at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, for some of his top spots to indulge in a little tranquility. 

Difficult Campground

The campsites—located about five miles southeast of Aspen—are closed for winter, but you can park at the edge of the area, strap into your snowshoes, and go exploring. “It’s very low-key,” Kravitz says. “It’s a nice, forested, quiet place to enjoy winter.”  

Weller Lake Trail

Start at the road closure on Independence Pass five miles east of Aspen and walk along snow-covered Highway 82 for two miles to the trailhead. From there, it’s about 0.5 miles of gradual hiking to the frozen-over lake itself. (Heads up: You may need snowshoes or crampons depending on when it last snowed.)

Government Trail

You’ll want to make sure you have some backcountry know-how—and a map—before heading out on this 9.8-mile trail between Aspen and Snowmass. But it can be as intense of an outing as you’re in the mood for. Kravitz recommends starting at the West Buttermilk parking area and snowshoeing for your desired distance before turning around. Keep an eye out for backcountry skiers coming down the path.  


Door-to-Door Service

Get outfitted from head-to-toe with help from three companies that come right to you.  

Ski Butlers delivers rental gear to your hotel or home (accessories like helmets and goggles, too, if you want), makes sure it all fits, and will adjust or trade out your equipment as needed throughout your stay. Ski packages start around $51 per day. 

Getting fitted for custom ski-boot insoles usually requires a couple of hours at the shop. Enter Eric Ward of the Foot Foundation, who will measure your feet at your own abode, then return within about 24 hours with 3-D-printed, fully bespoke footbeds ($350 per pair). 

Forgot your ski jacket at home? Suit Yourself has you covered, with an array of jackets, pants, hats, gloves, and goggles to rent, brought straight to your door. A full setup is $75 for one day, up to $200 for one week. 

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