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Winter Travel 2015: Aspen, Colorado

Newbies rub elbows with extreme athletes at Aspen Snowmass’s least crowded mountain.

Downtown Aspen, elevation 7,890 feet   Photo: Robbie George/National Geographic Creative

Travel time: 3 hours

Don’t let this year’s Winter X Games—which will be held at Buttermilk (aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk) from January 22 to 25—fool you: Most of this mountain is considered easy or intermediate for skiers, and its runs are some of Aspen’s least crowded. Of Aspen Snowmass ski resort’s four peaks, Buttermilk is the most beginner friendly, but there’s still that 22-foot superpipe to give wannabe extreme athletes something to shoot for. Bring the kids: This season, Buttermilk added the Hideout, a $5 million 7,500-square-foot children’s ski school center with a playroom and lookout tower.

Lift tickets: From $117

While there: The 33,000-square-foot new home of the Aspen Art Museum (aspenartmuseum.org), designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Shigeru Ban, opened in August. It’s worth a visit just to see the exterior: woven wooden panels encasing a three-story glass cube. The museum, which houses no permanent collection, focuses on contemporary works. Through March 1, make a point of catching the Marcel Broodthaers installation Décor: A Conquest, which juxtaposes objects of comfort and war, or the exhibit of minimalist drawings and paintings from abstract expressionist Agnes Martin’s 45-year career.

Where to stay: The historic 93-room Hotel Jerome (from $675, hoteljerome.aubergeresorts.com) is Aspen’s answer to swank lodging. Built in 1889 and renovated in 2012, the hotel showcases Native American patterns and plush, bespoke furnishings alongside mining-era collectibles.

Getting there: Fly direct to Aspen in three hours, then drive 10 minutes to the resort.

Lift ticket prices are per day and based on purchase at least a week in advance.

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