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Aspen Mountain

That Aspen Mountain ranks so high in dining and après (no. 2 in both) will come as no surprise to any skier who’s visited this picturesque mining town deep in the Elk Mountains. The 65-year-old ski area looms over a town that prides itself on offering urban-quality restaurants and bars (with prices to match) steps from Gondola Plaza. But here’s the story the rankings don’t tell: This mountain offers a huge variety of terrain in a compact package. Its 673 skiable acres are misleading. What counts here is vertical, and when it tops 3,500 feet accessed via a high-speed gondola that rarely draws a line, it’s more than most visitors’ quads can handle. Intermediates entertain themselves on fall-line groomers, but it’s the experts who fully capitalize on Aspen Mountain’s offerings. —T.W.

Don’t Miss » Aspen Mountain is sprinkled with shrines to everyone from late locals to legendary musicians. Create a tour on skis at aspensnowmassshrines.com.

Après Spot » The Sky Hotel has après locked down, but if the pool scene is too rowdy, head to BB’s Kitchen, a newish joint with a second-floor patio prime for catching late-day sun.

On-Hill Lunch » The white-bean chili and homemade apple strudel (with real whipped cream) lure locals and tourists alike to the cozy cabin interior and two-tiered deck at Bonnie’s.

Epic and Mountain Collective Passes Add to their Rosters

Eldora joins Vail’s Epic pass while Mountain Collective adds Mammoth, Snowbird, and Whistler Blackcomb.

Big boy Vail Resorts adds Boulder, Colorado’s local hill, Eldora Mountain Resort, to its 2013-14 season Epic Pass buffet.  A mere 20 or so miles from Boulder and about an hour drive from Denver, Eldora is a classic feeder mountain: it’s packed with young kids learning how to ski and is a quick drive from multiple metro areas, allowing skiers to avoid the often jammed Colorado I-70 ski corridor. As bumper stickers in Eldora’s parking lot say, “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70.”

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