Winter Sojourns

Four Aspen backyard escapes offer scenic respite and outdoor adventure.


Beyul hosts Snowga, a yoga retreat, February 17-20. Photo courtesy of Beyul Retreat

By Tess Weaver

While it might seem counterintuitive to leave the paradise that is Aspen in winter, three properties beckon skiers, ski tourers, Nordic skiers and snowshoers (including first-timers) to their picturesque locations within an hour’s drive from town. From a luxurious cabin at the back of Aspen Mountain, to a historic lodge on the Frying Pan River, to a shepherd’s wagon at the base of Mt. Sopris, these destination stays in Aspen’s backyard offer quiet respite and backcountry exercise.

The Smith Cabin for Ski Touring

Rustic wilderness meets modern comfort and private luxury at The Smith Cabin on the backside of Aspen Mountain. The cabin, designed and built by two local brothers, Colt and Bridger Smith, sleeps six in three bedrooms, and its open living area and spacious deck offer unique views of 14,000-foot peaks and the Castle Creek Valley. From the front door, backcountry ski (hire a private guide through Aspen Expeditions) the terrain off Richmond Ridge, skin or snowmobile to the top of Aspen Mountain to ski the resort, or meet Aspen Powder Tours for a day of snowcat skiing untracked snow in glades, bowls and wide-open meadows.

Nordic Skiing At BEYUL

Part backcountry-adventure lodge, part wellness retreat (the resort encourages a digital detox and offers a cedar sauna and cold plunge bath), Beyul Retreat encompasses 13 cabins and a seven-room lodge (think Western charm meets boho chic) on 32 acres along the scenic Frying Pan River. Beyul has grown a loyal following since it opened in 2020 with community-driven events like this winter’s Snowga, a yoga retreat (February 17-20, 2023), and a Cowboy Curling Tournament on January 21. Guests can Nordic ski right from the property on two marked trails (plus many backcountry trails) and on nearby Forest Service roads, and Beyul’s new grooming machine is creating new trails that tour along 1,700 feet, including some along private riverfront.

Marble Distilling Co. and Fat Biking

Sleep with the stills in downtown Carbondale at The Distillery Inn, the first and only inn in the world to be housed within an operational distillery. The boutique luxury inn offers five contemporary rooms built on a model of sustainability within Marble Distilling Co., a craft spirits distillery that filters Crystal River water through marble to make its award-winning spirits. After you’ve had a Marble-rita with house-stilled Marble Vodka and Gingercello, wander the Carbondale Creative District, which includes craft breweries, farm-to-table food, music venues, healing gardens, artist collectives and more. Five miles away, Prince Creek, a trail network at the base of Mt. Sopris, is the perfect place to try fat biking, a form of mountain biking on snow. Rent a bike equipped with oversize tires that provide traction on snow, and you’ll be able to ride miles of scenic singletrack in winter.

Snowshoeing At Avalanche Ranch Cabins & Hot Springs

Avalanche Ranch, between Carbondale and Redstone, lures locals and visitors to its geothermal hot springs for their detoxifying and relaxing effects and for the breathtaking views of Mt. Sopris and the Crystal River Valley. Its 1950s log cabins and authentic shepherd wagons offer country ambiance and 24-hour access to the hot springs for lodging guests (day passes are also available by reservation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors). The property provides a fleet of snowshoes for guests to use on-site or to take to nearby trailheads at Avalanche Creek, Coal Basin and McClure Pass. Follow up your snowshoeing with a massage or a private yoga class in the barn.