Highlands boasts the second-most terrain of Aspen Snowmass' four mountains, and it doesn't draw nearly the crowds of the biggest. That's because not many novice skiers and riders dare venture here. Locals claim Highlands as their territory, and even the most expert among them can be humbled. Double black diamond runs coat most of the mountain. Most heralded is the Highland Bowl, a 250-acre expanse with steeps waiting to be tracked. The bowl is reached on foot, which speaks to the do-it-yourself character of Highlands as a whole.
The hike to the bowl begins from the top of Loge Peak, where breathtaking views are punctuated by Colorado's iconic Maroon Bells. The summit is reached by the high-speed quad near the Merry-Go-Round Restaurant, Highlands' more casual dining option to the fondue-serving Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro. From the top, Broadway is the only blue run down.
Other than the bowl, your best bet for powder is in the Temerity area. The mountain's lower section is also wooded, catering to mogul seekers. The Thunderbowl and Exhibition lifts are your ticket to challenging runs such as P-Chutes and upper and lower Stein.
Skiable terrain: 1,040 acres
Trails: 23 percent intermediate, 12 percent advanced, 65 percent expert
Average annual snowfall: 300 inches
Mountain stats: 11,675-foot summit (Highland Bowl at 12,392 feet), 8,040-foot base, 3,635 vertical
Check out: Poppycock's for breakfast in town, Merry-Go-Round Restaurant and Highlands Alehouse on mountain, wine at Element 47, snowshoe tours by Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
Getting there: Going west on Interstate 70, take Exit 116 for Colorado 82 east through Glenwood Springs. Continue on highway to Aspen.
More information: aspensnowmass.com
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE