If Aspen Mountain is a Cadill ac Escalade, then Highlands is a Toyota Tacoma: genuine, badass and, yes, expensive, but not on account of frills like plush leather seats. Highlands is a skier’s hill, with blood-rushing steeps (nearly 50-degree, no-fall zones in hike-to Highland Bowl), yee-haw trees (Boomerang Woods and Steeplechase) and eye-watering groomers (Gunbarrel and Golden Horn) so deliciously pitched, readers wonder why no one’s skiing them. And then there’s the laid-back vibe. Where else can you get a free hot dog, grilled by lifties, as you swing through the empty chair maze on a spring afternoon? That’s not to say Highlands lacks sophistication— it’s just the friendly, worn-in kind. Cloud 9 Bistro, for example, is one of the coziest dining spots this side of the Alps. Readers complain about a lack of, well, everything, at the base. (There’s a reason we don’t call it a “village.”) But hey, if it’s shopping you want, drive that Cadillac over to Aspen. —Kimberly Beekman
What’s New» The midmountain Merry Go Round restaurant has received a much-needed remodeling—in Highlands’ ducttape- chic style.
Must Do » Hike the Bowl. It’s 45 minutes for mortals, and the views are divine.
On-Hill Lunch » Warm your hands around a mug of glühwein and share a platter of sizzling raclette at Cloud 9 Bistro.