Aspen mountains score hattrick in Top 10 mag survey

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenOctober 12, 2010
Readers of SKI Magazine this year named Deer Valley as North America's best ski area.

Readers ranked Aspen Highlands No. 10.
Dan Davis
Trekker Photo


Thanks in part to its immaculate grooming and top-notch guest services, the Utah resort is basking in the honor for the fourth straight year, the longest streak since the rankings began almost a quarter century ago.

Vail, which has claimed the magazine's top spot more than any other resort, came in second place, followed by Whistler/Blackcomb at No. 3, Beaver Creek at No. 4 and Park City at the No. 5 spot.

After getting shut out of the top 10 last year, Aspen Mountain regained ranking respectability at No. 7. But readers appreciated Snowmass just a little more, placing it in the No. 6 spot for the second years in a row. Aspen Highlands also surged into the spotlight, landing No. 10, way up from last year's No. 17.

Here's what SKI Magazine Executive Editor Greg Ditrinco wrote about the ski town he used to live in:

It’s good to see Aspen climb back into the Top 10. It’s where it belongs, and not as a hoary Top 10 emeritus. 'No other resort is Aspen!' is a reader refrain. The town has become such an icon that the mountain itself tends to get—and here’s a term rarely heard around here — undervalued. This charming bandbox of a hill (675 acres) values subtlety over brute force, as it’s an insider’s paradise chock full of hidden stashes, shots and shrines. Unlike the drill at ski leviathans such as Vail and Whistler, you don’t get off lifts here and 'just point ’em.' Ask a friendly local (there are lots), inquire from a ski ambassador, or better yet, take the free mountain tour (10:30 a.m. at the top of the gondola). 'Aspen Mountain is really a great skier’s mountain, once you get to know it,' says a reader in the know. As far as the famed social scene goes, pick any street corner and walk into the next drinking or dining establishment and chances are you won’t be disappointed. 'The best ski town, period.' Yup.”

Jay Cowan, who still lives around here, penned this about Snowmass for SKI Magazine's rankings:

Those who complain about 'not much challenge' have simply never skied a sizable chunk of its 3,000-plus acres, including Hanging Valley, The Wall or the Burnside Cliffs. And that’s a good thing, since it leaves more room for the rest of us. …. With one of the longest verticals in America, one of the country’s biggest superpipes, blockbuster powder, plus Lifts, Grooming, Terrain Parks, Terrain Variety, On-Mountain Food, Lodging and Family Programs all ranked in the top 11, Snowmass has legitimate claims to being what readers often call it: the 'world’s best ski area.' With last winter’s opening of the slopeside Viceroy Snowmass, the resort hopes it finally has the five-star lodging and dining under one roof that it has always needed to fulfill its destiny. It seems to be working, given the resort’s top-five lodging ranking and the Viceroy’s elevated cuisine, plush rooms, in-house spa, and popular poolside sushi bar.”

And Kim Beekman wrote this about Aspen Highlands:

At one end of the spectrum, there’s Aspen Mountain, its gondola rising from the center of town, its steps a red carpet lined with paparazzi hoping to snap a photo of, say, the Olsen twins. At the other, there’s Aspen Highlands, with a plywood sign stuck in the snow on the side of the road telling you where to park your truck. So imagine our surprise when this hardcore hometown hill, with prayer flags fluttering in the parking lot and a decidedly take-it-or-leave-it vibe, ratcheted up seven spots this year to No. 10 — just three behind Ajax. Perhaps skiers are changing their priorities. (According to our Highlands fans, those priorities would now be, in order: authenticity, steeps, free parking for cars with four passengers and, of course, 'the best closing party on this planet.')  Or perhaps readers are just finally discovering what locals have always known: As skier’s mountains go, Highlands is one of the greats. It has soul.”

SKI Magazine readers voted Breckenridge No. 8 and Sun Valley No. 9.

Telluride and Steamboat ranked No. 11 and No. 13, respectively, giving Colorado eight resorts in the top 15.

The rankings are the result of a survey of 20,000 readers conducted by an independent research firm.


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