As I sit in my seat, clutching my laptop for dear life, I close my eyes and try to breathe through the insane amount of turbulence that we just hit on our descent into Aspen, Colorado. Surely someone’s fur coat was going to end up on someone else’s lap. The small 50 passenger plane was rockin' and rollin' with every air pocket we hit coming over the Rockies. I open my eyes to see how close we are to landing and my heart skips a beat when I see the view through the window. Straight up white walls on both sides of the plane, the snow covered mountains just a couple hundred feet from the ends of the wingspan. A sudden calm hits as the aircraft levels out and starts to float closer towards the ground. We are being cradled by Mother Nature as we head straight into the belly of the beast known as The Winter X-Games.
As I wait patiently for my luggage, I can't help but look around to observe the types of travelers that have just flown in. It didn't seem like many people were there for the X-games, in fact it looked like the normal Aspen weekend travel crowd. Perfectly manicured men and women wearing their overly expensive winter outfits, most adorned with fur coats and designer shoes. The airport is small so it's not hard to get caught checking out the crowd. I stuck out like a sore thumb with my pilled sweater and baseball cap. Lucky for me, I had 3 good girlfriends joining me later that day.
As we hopped on the free bus that took us to Buttermilk Mountain (location of the X-Games), one thing was very apparent... no one was skiing/riding. Not that we minded at all, it had just snowed 6 inches overnight so the fresh powder made us forget all about the actual reason we were there.
The mountain is open during the X-games so we didn't think twice about gearing up and getting some turns in. It's worth the effort to bring your board, the chairlift takes you right up over the main jump line so it's a super rad view if you time it right. Buttermilk isn't that big so it didn't take long to explore the mountain, we pretty much hot lapped the entire time we were there.
Since the only people that seemed to be in riding gear were the athletes actually competing, we drew side glances and whispers from bystanders trying to figure out if we were pro or not. 4 girls mobing down the mountain together?? yes please. No wonder we drew attention.
We were in a town that we were unfamiliar with no agenda and nothing but time.
In a series of events that I couldn't actually tell you how they came together, we ended up at Escobar's in the VIP section behind the man with a fancy velvet rope. We weren't dressed up, we barely had makeup on, and I don't think any of us put much effort into doing something with our hair. But there we were again, four girls singled out for whatever reason it may have been at that moment in time.
I promise you it was not because of our fashion sense. Or maybe it was...
The four of us crammed into a tiny room at The St. Moritz Lodge in downtown Aspen. An older building and the only hostel around, it was the only place we could find at a 'reasonable' rate that put us central to the action. With luxury hotels and boutique shops on every corner, it's an odd destination to be hosting an event that cater towards the extreme sports crowd. But we didn't care, we were there to ride and have a good time - and that we did.
A GIRLS' QUICK GUIDE TO ASPEN FOR THE X-GAMES
No car needed!
Free Shuttle from downtown Aspen to Buttermilk Mountain (super easy so no need to rent a car). I would reccomend taking a cab from the airport to where ever you are staying - UBER ski exists as well but are not readily available and may take some time. The free bus does go from the airport to downtown but with luggage it may be a hassle (I took the bus and with by board bag it was a little logistical).
WHERE TO STAY
St. Moritz Lodge
Located just blocks from downtown. Easy to get around and puts you in the heart of all the action without breaking the bank. They have regular hotel-like rooms, as well as a hostel. Rooms are small and nothing fancy but they have free wine and popcorn for happy hour everyday! Great option for those on a budget (still pricey but cheap compared to all other lodging options in town). BOOK EARLY FOR X-GAMES.
WHERE TO EAT
*keep in mind these are not the ONLY places to eat. This list is based on personal suggestions for the budget-friendly traveller.
The Red Onion
Local's go-to for pub food
Meat & Cheese
Chic eatery & marketplace great for upscale nosh
Vegan breakfast & lunch good for gluten-free
Su Casa Mexican
Traditional quick tex-mex
WHERE TO PARTY
Vibe: Upscale Club
Vibe: Party Bar
Vibe: Upscale laid back lounge with pool tables
Vibe: Low-Key Western themed bar
Vibe: Casual brewpub with decent eats
Cheers to a great trip with the girls!
Follow me as I travel hack my way through the mountains!