Snowmass has struggled for years with an inferiority complex from neighboring Aspen. That's changing. Take your pick of reasons why: With the Cirque lift added last year, Snowmass boasts the biggest vertical drop in the nation (4,406 feet); it earned Top 10 national rankings this year in Snow, Grooming, Lifts and Service; and at 3,010 acres, "the mountain has it all. It's never boring," one reader says. The resort's signature area, the Big Burn¿a paean to cruising¿will make you feel like Stein Eriksen. But there's more here than its famous intermediate ego-massaging. Feel your throat tighten in Roberto's, Hanging Valley and The Cirque. Then lunch in style at Gwyn's, one of the finest on-mountain restaurants anywhere. Getting to the slopes is no problem: 95 percent of Snowmass' lodging is ski-in/ski-out. And the resort's social scene finally shows a pulse, with revelers hitting the Mountain Dragon, La Piñata and the Cirque Cafe. Dining is surprisingly sophisticated (if limited); try Krabloonik and La Boheme. Another tactic: "Go to Aspen for your nightlife," a reader suggests. On the downside, Snowmass desperately needs a true base village and a base-to-summit gondola. One reader, however, gives Snowmass the highest endorsement: "It's the best. We're buying a condo."
What's New Coney Glade terrain park; two halfpipes on Blue Grouse; a restaurant yurt at the Burlingame summit.
A Good Deal Snowmass Lodge & Club, $73 per day, includes lift ticket and lodging, available Nov. 21-Dec. 22, April 4-11. Call (800) 525-0710.
Medals Gold Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Service, Weather, Food, Lodging, Family; Silver Dining, Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities, Scenery.
High/Low Ranks Weather (2); Value (51).
Don't Miss Magic tricks by the bartenders at The Tower.
Reader Remarks "A huge mountain. The best cruising in North America." "Poor lift system. Aspen prices."