ASPEN, COLORADO, UNITED STATES
Here’s a unique town, unlike any place else in the American West. It’s a cocktail of cowboy grit, Euro panache, Hollywood glam, Ivy League brains, fresh powder, live music and lots of money. It’s the kind of place where no matter the season you can bring on a head rush in countless ways. Perhaps you dropped into an extreme vertical run, or stomped to the crest of Buckskin Pass in under three hours? It could also come while relaxing at the local music festival, peering down into the bowl of a superpipe or climbing an ice wall. It’s possible the horse-drawn sleigh took off too fast for you while you were peering over at yet another $10 million estate, or that cycling to the top of Independence Pass has left you exhausted but smiling. Then again it may have been that way-brainy conversation with a slurring but extraordinarily literate barfly.
Whatever and whomever you’ve seen, heard or done, there is a common Aspen cure-all. One that has served every Olympic champion, gonzo journalist, world-class musician, thinker, artist or actor that has ever arrived in this athletic, cultural, intellectual, artistic, absurd ski town. Simply take your body to the frothing hot tub under the stars and leave the head behind. But do bring the bottle. After all, Aspen is nothing if not a place of excellence, extravagance and, most of all, indulgence. Just remember, whatever you do, don’t stand up too fast.
COLORADO, UNITED STATES
Spectacular vistas, endless powder runs and mountain towns with echoes of the Old West. Colorado is a place that has forever beckoned people to adventure.
In the hulking shadow of the Rockies, Colorado’s urban culture is vibrant and progressive. Industries like high tech, communications and education propel a robust economy. Former cow town Denver boasts iconic sports arenas, a revitalized downtown and plenty of bike routes, breweries and hipster hangouts. Nearby university towns of Boulder and Fort Collins pair stunning natural settings with progressive vibes. Even Aspen is known almost as much for its summer music festival and think-tank intellect as its adventure opportunities. South of the Arkansas River, Colorado was once Mexico, and pockets of Hispanic culture still thrive. Native American culture persists in the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Indian Reservations in southwest Colorado.
Rocky Mountain High
The best known of the Rocky Mountain states, with the highest concentration of peaks above 14,000ft, Colorado owes its public adoration to the mountainous backbone that rises and rolls from the Front Range westward. But there are also mesas, desert canyons and sagebrush hills. Some 300-plus sunny days per year contribute to hiking, biking, river running and rock climbing that’s unrivaled anywhere in the US West. Even during the peak summer season, when millions of tourists flood the state, visitors can still find solitude at a remote mountain lake or meadow, or atop a craggy summit. In Rocky Mountain National Park, the state’s premier attraction, there are dozens of backcountry hikes and campsites that see few visitors – unless you count that moose or family of foxes that wandered by.
Ski Country USA
With heavy snowfalls and light powder, the long winters of the Colorado high country are the stuff of legend. Hares and mountain lions leave white tracks, boarders and skiers weave through pine forests and open bowls, and hearth fires roar in mountain lodges. With the longest ski run in the USA (Vail), some of the highest snowfall (Wolf Creek), and legendary ski-parking-lot BBQs (Arapahoe Basin), Colorado may have the best downhill skiing on earth. Remarkable cross-country and backcountry terrain bring a whole other dimension to winter – one where lift lines don’t exist. If you’re among the hard core, you can make turns from Halloween until early June. Iconic resorts like Aspen, Vail and Telluride attract visitors in droves, and after the last lift, parties kick into gear.