Aspen vs Breckenridge

Last Updated on 10th June 2024 by Steve

Aspen and Breckenridge ski resorts are both ranked highly in Colorado ski circles when it comes to visitor numbers and ski area size. Read further to see how they compare to one another.

Getting to Aspen and Breckenridge

From a distance point of view Breckenridge is much closer to Denver (and the international airport) than Aspen.

The route for both ski resorts starts the same way: take I-70 west out of Denver. Skiers heading for Breckenridge turn off to the south at the town of Frisco for the short drive to the ski resort. Breckenridge is around 80 miles from Denver and around 100 miles away from Denver International Airport.

Those heading for Aspen continue on the I-70 to Glenwood Springs before turning south to Snowmass Village or Aspen itself. Aspen is situated in Pitkin county around 220 miles west of the airport at Denver and just under 200 miles from the city.

Those without a car can take a regular bus service or shared shuttle to Breckenridge and Aspen. The regular Colorado Department of Transportation Snowstang bus service operates to Breckenridge on the weekends. Aspen visitors will find the Bustang West Line serves Glenwood Springs, with a change onto the RFTA valley bus through to the ski resort.

Comparing Aspen and Breckenridge

Breckenridge and Aspen ski statistics
Breckenridge and Aspen ski statistics at a glance

Ski infrastructure at Aspen and Breckenridge

When it comes to total acreage of ski terrain, Aspen comes out on top. But skiers and snowboarders comparing the two should remember that the Aspen ski area is split between four mountains not connected by lift (although still on the same area lift pass). Having said that, the largest Aspen area (Snowmass) still is larger than that at Breckenridge.

Aspen also overpowers Breckenridge when the numbers of marked ski trails are put side by side. However early intermediate skiers may prefer the idea of sampling the linked ski mountains at Breckenridge rather than taking a ski shuttle to the different hills at Aspen.

Ski resort lodging at Aspen and Breckenridge

Both Breckenridge and Aspen are ‘proper’ towns, rather than purpose-built hotels and condominiums at the base of a ski mountain. Aspen is slightly larger in terms of locals than Breckenridge.

Aspen ski accommodation

Anyone staying at Aspen can access the skiing on Aspen Mountain from the outskirts of the town, while the other three ski areas can be reached by ski shuttle bus from downtown Aspen. The town, as an established and somewhat trendy ski destination, has a good variety of lodging available.

As an alternative, there are options at the base of Snowmass, the largest of the Aspen ski areas, eight miles away from downtown Aspen

Check accommodation availability at Aspen

The search box below will show lodging availability if you enter your proposed dates of stay in Aspen. If you like the look of any accommodation click on it and you will be taken to the booking page where you can choose your preferred room type and view additional information about the property. On the resort booking page you can also filter the results by price range, number of guests, star rating and amenities offered.

Breckenridge ski accommodation

Breckenridge is a former mining town which dates from the days of the Colorado gold rush and the historic downtown area is not far from the lifts and ski area. It is renowned for its apres-ski and nightlife and there is a free ski bus service which links some outlying areas to the ski lifts.

Check accommodation availability at Breckenridge

The search box below will show accommodation availability if you enter your proposed dates of stay in Breckenridge. Click on the accommodation you like and you will be taken to the booking page where you can choose your preferred room type and view additional information about the property. On the resort booking page you can also filter the results by price range, number of guests, star rating and amenities offered.

Skiing at Aspen and Breckenridge

Aspen Snowmass has its own lift pass covering all four Aspen ski mountains and is also part of the Ikon and Mountain Collective lift pass groups, which entitle holders to limited days of skiing at the Aspen ski area.

As well as Aspen, the Ikon Pass includes prominent Colorado ski resorts such as Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.

Breckenridge is run by Vail Resorts and is part of the Epic Pass lift ticket association.

There are various options on offer for those skiing at here. The Epic Day Pass is a non-holiday season pass which is available for the desired period of skiing or boarding.

Season tickets are available for various levels of accessibility. The full Epic Pass also offers the option of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte as well as Keystone and Breckenridge. There is also an Epic Local Pass, which gives unrestricted access to Crested Butte, Breckenridge and Keystone during the season. (Access to Beaver Creek and Vail is only available outside holiday periods on this pass.)

Ski slope percentages per ability level for Aspen and Breckenridge

Skiing for beginners at Aspen and Breckenridge

At first glance, the proportion of ski trails dedicated to beginner skiers at Aspen seems extremely limited. But, because the skiing at Aspen is split over four mountains, one of them is set up as an ideal location for beginner levels and small children.

A good third of the trails at Buttermilk Mountain are perfect for those learning to ski and many of the intermediate runs (another 40 per cent) are suitable for those moving up from the beginner level.

The best beginner ski terrain at Breckenridge can be found on Peak 8 and Peak 9 and can be easily accessed from the town or from other parts of the ski area. The Peak 8 base area especially has a number of short trails suited to those learning to ski.

The QuickSilver SuperChair on Peak 9 leads onto a number of easy runs. The Silverthorne run, for example, is known as one of the better beginner runs in the Rockies. Over on Peak 8 off the Colorado SuperChair, a short initial blue (intermediate) section offers access to a number of green (beginner) runs, including the Sawmill trail which is a long traverse over to the base of Peak 9.

Intermediate skiing at Aspen and Breckenridge

Intermediate skiers can choose from any of Aspen’s four ski mountains and be confident that they will get a good day on the slopes. As mentioned above, Buttermilk Mountain is probably the best for more hesitant intermediate skiers, while the other three areas have plenty of scope for those looking to improve their skills.

Snowmass ski resort, Aspen CO
Snowmass ski area near Aspen, Colorado

The skiing at Breckenridge is considered by many to be graded too severely (meaning improving skiers at one level can probably manage some of the easier runs at the next level.)

There are intermediate runs all over the ski area, but the best locations at Breckenridge are probably Peaks 6, 7 and 9, with a wide variety of trails at that level. Four O’Clock is the longest run on the mountain at three and a half miles of a mixture of green and blue sections. Peak 6 is probably the best for avoiding the crowds at busy periods.

Advanced and expert skiing at Aspen and Breckenridge

Both Aspen and Breckenridge are good choices for the advanced and expert skier, with testing bump runs, tree skiing and open bowls.

Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands are probably the best locations for those looking for massive moguls while Snowmass has a variety of tree skiing and steep challenging terrain.

There is a good selection of lift-served advanced trails off Peak 10’s Falcon SuperChair at Breckenridge. Those who are looking for something a little more challenging might like to head over to the Imperial Express SuperChair. As well as the stunning views there are a whole host of black and double-black diamond slopes and chutes above the treeline, including some terrain marked extreme in the Lake Chutes and Snow White areas.