Beyond the Slopes: Taking a Break in Snowmass

The ski terrain at the four mountains in Aspen and Snowmass is vast. Your family could easily spend a week exploring the 300-plus trails, seeking out stashes of powder and riding the rails. But you’ll likely have some afternoons or full days when the kids (or mom and dad) need a break from skiing or boarding. Here are 10 activities that are sure to please all ages:

Splash around at the Aspen Recreation Center. The showpiece at this state-of-the-art community center at 861 Maroon Creek Road, across from the Aspen schools, is the recreation pool, complete with a lazy river, water slide and spray fountains; parents of toddlers appreciate its gentle, sloping entry. There’s also a 25-yard lap pool with diving board. Daily admission to the ARC also gives you access to the indoor, NHL-sized ice-skating rink, a 32-foot climbing tower, and cardio and weight rooms. If you want to skate or climb, call ahead to confirm public skating hours and whether a climbing-wall attendant is on duty. 970-544-4100;

Take a sleigh ride to the Pine Creek Cookhouse. Because the plowed road ends 1½ miles from the Pine Creek Cookhouse, a majestic log cabin set in the wilderness about 12 miles from Aspen, journeying to the restaurant to enjoy its “mountain gourmet” cuisine is by horse-drawn sleigh. Or you can strap on cross-country skis or snowshoes at the Ashcroft Ski Touring Center and make the scenic trek by foot. Lunch reservations are recommended; dinner reservations are required. 970-925-1044; While you’re in the area, check out Ashcroft ghost town, once home to hundreds of miners and their families.

Mush on a dogsled ride. Krabloonik Restaurant & Kennel, 4250 Divide Road, Snowmass Village, gives you the ride of your life with a dogsled tour of the Snowmass Wilderness Area. In the capable hands of an experienced musher, you take on hairpin turns and thrilling straight shots through open fields with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. The tours are combined with lunch or dinner in Krabloonik’s cozy log-cabin restaurant. Reservations are required; children must be 3 or older. Prices are hefty, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it just might be worth it. 970-923-3953;

Zoom down a zipline. Attach yourself to a harness, snap into a zipline and glide 1,150 feet down the ski slopes at 35 miles an hour. How’s that for an adrenaline rush? The zipline is located above the Lower Blue Grouse run at the Snowmass Ski Area. It’s the state’s only year-round recreational ride of its kind. Buy tickets at the Snowmass Village Ticket Pavilion; minimum weight is 65 pounds. Prices vary by season. 800-766-9627;

Stroll through a museum. The exhibits at the Aspen Art Museum (590 N. Mill St., 970-925-8050) rotate regularly, so there’s always new contemporary art to appreciate. Family Days, when art lovers of all ages can get creative with complimentary art supplies and activity packets, happen on select Sundays; check for specific dates. Admission is free. For a dose of Aspen history, consider the Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum (40180 Highway 82, 970-925-3721) and the Wheeler Stallard Museum (620 W. Bleeker St.);

Ride a snowcat to dinner. It’s fun to watch the headlights of the snowcats groom the ski trails every evening. Your family can ride an authentic “cat” on the slopes of Snowmass, and enjoy a western barbecue to boot. The snowcat with a pull-behind “sleigh” whisks you to the Burlingame Cabin, nestled in a grove of aspens off the Scooper run. There, you’ll sit at picnic tables, dine on barbecued chicken and ribs, chicken tenders, macaroni and baked beans, and listen to live entertainment. Note: This is a rustic cabin; it’s heated by a pot-belly stove and there are porta-potties outside.  970-923-8715;

Music and campfire stories are the perfect way to relax after a long day on the mountain.

Sing songs and tell stories by the campfire. For a family-friendly après-ski experience, meet at the fire pit next to the Pokolodi Lodge in Snowmass Village every Monday afternoon to sing songs with a guitar-strummin’ cowboy. Wednesdays bring tall tales around the campfire from a storyteller. (Hot cocoa and roasted marshmallows, too.)  800-SNOWMASS;

Go snowmobiling. Venture deep into the White Mountain National Forest, with its pristine wilderness and majestic mountain peaks, on a guided snowmobile tour. T-Lazy-7 ranch, 3129 Maroon Creek Road, offers several tours; some include a stop at a cabin for lunch featuring cheeseburgers made from the ranch’s own grass-fed beef (vegetarian options are available). The minimum age for most tours is 3; typically toddlers ride up front with mom or dad, and often threy’re so snug as bugs, they fall asleep. Tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are required. 970-925-4614;


From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.