Snowmass

In the last few years, an extraordinary $1 billion has been invested in new developments, renovations and on-mountain improvements in Snowmass, including five new restaurants, luxury resort lodging, the Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center and the Elk Camp gondola, which travels 11,00 feet in less than nine minutes.

Snowmass ski resort itself is a good intermediate mountain with long runs and plenty of options for families. A well-maintained, admission-free Nordic trail between Snowmass Village and Aspen offers 80km of winter trails. One interesting wintertime activity is a day with sled dogs from nearby kennels.

Golf is available at the Snowmass Club. Nearby, the Fryingpan River is a must-visit for anxious anglers. Climbing, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding — you name it — it's all available in this full-service community and the surrounding wilderness. Each June, the town hosts the Snowmass Balloon Festival, during which about 50 participants race while spectators enjoy a champagne breakfast and classical music at the launch area. The Anderson Ranch Arts Center exhibits local artists' works year-round and offers a diverse menu of workshops each summer.

In 2010, Snowmass made headlines when the bones of a juvenile Colombian mammoth from the Ice Age were discovered beneath a town construction site. When scientists and experts from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science arrived to excavate the site, they discovered even more ancient creatures, including other mammoths, mastadons, well-preserved plant matter and other elements of the Ice Age ecosystem.

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