Both Aspen and Breckenridge are known for epic peaks and alpine atmospheres, but which is a better choice for your ski vacation this winter? To help you decide, we’ve dug into what each of these Colorado towns has to offer and how they differ.
Location, location, location
First, let’s talk logistics. How easy is it to get to Aspen vs. Breckenridge? Breckenridge is about a 90-minute drive from Denver, making it easily accessible whether you live in the city or you’re flying into the Denver airport. But Breckenridge’s proximity to a big city means its slopes can get pretty crowded during peak season.Aspen, about four hours from Denver, has its own small airport serviced by a limited number of major airlines. You might pay more for the convenience of flying in, but it’s nice to land right in the middle of the action.
When it comes to skiable acres, Aspen comes out the clear winner. Aspen’s core village consists of three ski resorts — Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk — which comprise 2,185 skiable acres across 238 runs. Add in Aspen Snowmass, just 30 minutes away, and you have another 3,132 acres and 94 runs, giving you a total of 5,317 skiable acres across 332 runs within a 10-mile radius.Breckenridge comes in at 2,908 skiable acres across 155 runs, but it’s all contained within a single ski resort, so you have more options than you might have at a single Aspen resort. Breckenridge also has five peaks, while Aspen has four. Aspen has a total of 37 lifts vs. 34 at Breckenridge, but Breckenridge also boasts the tallest chairlift in North America, the Imperial Express SuperChair.
Bang for your buck
Skiers and their money are soon parted, but if you’d like to postpone the sad farewell, Breckenridge will keep you and your cash together longer. For the 2021-22 ski season, a Breckenridge lift pass will cost you $80-$150 a day, while at Aspen you’ll spend $120-$180. According to ChampionTraveler.com, this price trend also holds true for lodging in the two Colorado towns. Expect to pay an average of $203 a night in Aspen vs. Breckenridge, where lodging averages around $132 per night.
Alpine atmosphere and fun for non-skiers
Not everyone is a fan of shredding the slopes, and fortunately both Aspen and Breckenridge have loads of fun winter activities for any non-skiers in your group. Check out opportunities for fat biking, ice skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding, fly fishing and more in and around both towns. Breckenridge and Aspen are also walkable, with downtown shopping, galleries and museums when you need a break from the slopes. Aspen is a favorite ski destination among celebrities, so it has a more upscale, posh feel. Breckenridge is more laid-back, but still well-maintained and charming.
When it comes to food, Breckenridge and Aspen offer a multitude of dining options, though Aspen leans toward fine dining while Breckenridge has a variety of casual eateries. If you’re looking for slopeside service, keep in mind that Breckenridge has only one full-service restaurant on the mountain, while Aspen has several.
Winter events and festivities
Finding a great ski town is about more than just the snow. Breckenridge and Aspen really shine when it comes to each town’s annual events and festivals. During the winter months, Breckenridge is best known for its tree lighting and Race of the Santas to kick off the holiday season. December also brings Breckenridge’s four-day Ullr Fest, a raucous celebration of the Norse god associated with skiing. Ullr Fest events include a polar plunge, town bonfire, parade and plenty of horned Viking headgear. January brings the International Snow Sculpture Championships, and the town hosts its own one-day Mardi Gras in February. To help plan your trip, check out the town’s event calendar. Aspen takes its Ullr appreciation to a whole new level with family-friendly Ullr Nights every Friday from December to April at Snowmass. Enjoy gondola rides, night tubing and snow biking, bonfires, s’mores and more. The end of December brings the festive 12 Days of Aspen, followed by the Winter X Games in January and the Bud Light Spring Jam in March, with live concerts downtown and competitions on the mountain. Plan your stay around these and other events.
The bottom line
When it comes to Aspen vs. Breckenridge, where should you go skiing this winter? It depends on what you’re looking for. You’ll spend a little more on travel, food, lodging and skiing at Aspen, and you might have fewer crowds to contend with. Breckenridge doesn’t have quite as many acres to ski and fewer dining options than Aspen, but it’s also less expensive, easier to access and has a more laid-back vibe. The good news is that no matter which town you pick, both have plenty of slopes, runs and lifts to keep you busy, and both have enough festivals, eateries and fun activities to make your trip memorable.
If you’re dreaming of a second home in either of these ski destinations, check out Pacaso listings in Aspen and Breckenridge, and find out how Pacaso’s co-ownership LLC model can turn your dream into a reality.