In Aspen, Snowmass Village and Ketchum, our hearts and minds are still undeniably centered on snow. It has been a particularly good snowpack year across the Rocky Mountains, and we’re still savoring our turns when we’re not serving our guests.
But choosing which season we love more — winter or summer — is like picking a favorite child. It cannot be done. And this year, we’re especially eager for the sunny bliss that occurs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Here’s why.
Our First Summer in Snowmass Village!
If our first summer in Snowmass Village is anything like our first winter has been, we’re all in for a treat. The new Limelight Hotel Snowmass has raised the game in Snowmass Village, with a lively àpres scene in the Lounge, festive ice skating in the plaza into the night, and an indoor rock climbing wall that has been more popular than we ever could have imagined.
As we roll toward summer, our prime location by the Elk Camp Gondola will shift us from ski-in/ski-out to bike-in/bike-out. Enjoy the weekly Farm to Table Dinners at Elk Camp, flirt with adrenaline at the new Lost Forest mountain park, and cap the day with a sundowner by the outdoor fireplaces in the plaza. Yes: we’re ready for summer, even if this winter has been too good to be true!
Always Delish: the Aspen Food & Wine Classic
Attention Top Chef fans: how many times have you heard Padma’s intro when she mentions that the winning chef will get “a showcase at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic…”? For us, that phrase never gets old, because we know we’re blessed to host one of North America’s most prestigious foodie events right here.
For four days in early June, the town of Aspen transforms into a megawatt spectacle of star chefs, talented up-and-comers, and eye-popping vintages from the world’s most illustrious wineries. The epicenter of the action is the Grand Tasting tent in Wagner Park, which — by the way — is across the street from the Limelight Hotel Aspen.
Getting Torqued with the Sun Valley Tour de Force
Top Gear meets the chill vibe of Ketchum at the annual Sun Valley Tour de Force. Up to 200 exotic cars show up on the weekend of July 26–28, ranging from vintage classics to street-legal supercars with more horsepower than a small jet.
On Saturday, the high-speed event gives spectators from around the world a unique thrill, as the sound of revved engines echo and reverberate along Highway 75 outside town. Follow the day of gawking with an àpres cocktail at The Lounge.
Our Mountain Bikes are Lonely
If mountain life seems like an endless cycle of rotating gear for the seasons, know this: it is. In fall, we wax our skis and watch the skies for snow. In spring, we pump up our tires, grease our chains and wait for the snow to melt.
Newcomers to Ketchum are always amazed at the abundance of single-track trails in the area (some 400 miles, by some estimates). In Snowmass Village, much of the action lies off the Elk Camp Gondola (just outside our door), where the Snowmass Bike Park offers a mix of gravity-flow bombers and cross-country ambles. And it’s super easy to connect Snowmass with Aspen via trail, in addition to branching out on the trail network that serves the greater Roaring Fork Valley. Just one thing: if the snow keeps up the way it’s been, mountain biking season might get a late start. I guess you can’t have it both ways.
A Profusion of Wildflowers?
Which brings us to the last reason we’re stoked for summer: when snowpacks are plentiful, so are the wildflowers the following season. An increased water table is one reason, but when the snow melts away later in the season (sometimes as late as mid-June in the Rockies), flowers have less time to get their bloom on. So they all go at once. And it is spectacular.
As glorious as the displays are in the Sawtooth Mountains outside Ketchum, our favorite spot remains the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area to the south of Aspen and Snowmass Village. Few places in the world serve up such a profusion of wildflowers as The Bells. A hike over West Maroon, Frigid Air or Buckskin Pass — especially on high snowpack years — can be a life-altering experience.