2003 Number 8 Resort in North America: Aspen, Colo.


From the World Cup ski racers in November to the Spring Jam riders in April, Aspen regularly hosts some of the most devoted skiers and boarders on the globe. That's no coincidence. "You can never go to Aspen too many times. It's always a winner," a reader proclaims. Aspen Mountain, with its ever-changeable top-to-bottom laps on the Silver Queen gondola and the underutilized Lift 1A, also wins raves. "Varied and excellent terrain," a reader applauds, while another complains "there's not enough intermediate skiing" on Aspen Mountain, where the terrain simply won't allow it. Perennially ranked No. 1 in Après and Dining, the town of Aspen remains the sweetest ski town in North America. You can pick from the legendary wealth of activities and nightlife: from epic shopping at Gucci and Prada to big-time entertainment at the Aspen Comedy Festival. As for the world-class dining, all-star chefs now regularly put Aspen into their five-year plans. Of course, Aspen is "outrageously expensive," as one reader says, then adding the now cliché coda, "but you get what you pay for." Another reader sums it up by listing Aspen Mountain's strength as the fact that "it's Aspen," and then citing its weakness with the same words. -J.C.

WHAT'S NEW April's Spring Jam gets bigger this year with the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix Finals joining the 4th Annual KickAspen Big Air event, the wild Dash For Cash, deck parties, a free concert and more.

A GOOD DEAL Fast Women In Aspen (the women's World Cup super G and slalom events) from Nov. 28-Dec. 1. World Cup packages start at $55 per person, per night, including lodging and lift tickets.

MEDALS GOLD Après, Dining, Off-Hill Activities, Lodging, Service, Scenery, Weather, Grooming, Challenge; SILVER Snow, Family Programs, Terrain, Lifts.

HIGH/LOW RANK Après (1), Dining (1), Off-Hill Activities (2); Access (33), Terrain Parks (42), Value (55).

DON'T MISS Visiting Aspen Mountain's famous ski-in shrines, from Jimi Hendrix's on the Mine Dumps to local-legend Raoul Wille's memorial site near the paragliding launch on Walsh's.

READER REMARKS (+) "Big enough for variety, yet small enough to feel at home." "Great nightlife-if you last that long." "Best food in the West." (-) "Nowhere to hide when your legs hurt." "Overpriced for most."

Great Lodging Deals here.