Snowmass Village History

Snowmass Village has a history as rich as the snow that covers the Colorado mountains. Snowmass, formerly known as Brush Creek Valley, was once a ranching town – home to its first settlers who arrived in the 1880s in search of opportunity. Many of them were Scandanavian, bringing with them skis from their native country. But long before white people arrived, the Ute Indians had inhabited the land. Legend has it, the Utes originally dubbed the Snowmass mountain “Cold Woman” because of the cloudy haze and bad
weather that often shrouded the valley.

Though cattle grazing and grain production, and later logging, dominated much of the old Snowmass area’s commerce, the Aspen region was home to growing mining activity paralleling the rich Snowmass Village history that was being made.
A famous forest fire would give rise to what a major ski trail is named after today. The Big Burn forest fire, caused most likely by a period of heavy drought one summer, leaving trees dry and vulnerable to a lightning storm, left a clearing of sprawling acres that would one day become an intermediate ski trail. It was once thought that the Ute Indians, who once inhabited the area, created the fire to drive white people away.

About a half a decade later, the Snowmass site rapidly became home to recreation skiing, spawning from the Divide. In 1955, Pitkin County commercially zoned the Snowmass Village area to accommodate recreation visitors. Three years later, and 17 years after competing in the national alpine championships held in Aspen, land developer and former ski racer William Janss bought a good chunk of property at the base of Snowmass.

On Dec. 17, 1967 the visions for what would one day become a world-class ski destination would become realized through a special use permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service. What was then called Snowmass-at-Aspen, Snowmass united Aspen Skiing Company with Janss Corporation, to create a ski destination that sold its first lift tickets for a meager $6.50. The new dream resort featured five chairlifts, 50 miles of skiable trails, including ¨Big Burn, Sam’s Knob, and Coney Glade and Campground”.

In 1995, developments were made to the Snowmass resort creating easier access to Aspen. At the base of Two Creeks such improvements featured a new ticket box office, a ski and snowboard school desk, a sales and rental shop, and various services along with public parking, free shuttle services, and a high-speed quad from Two Creeks to Elk Camp.

The operation season normally runs from late November to early April each year. Today, old Snowmass is home to 3,128 skiable acres navigated by 22 lifts, with a vertical rise of 4,406 feet. Old Snowmass in Colorado currently tops the ski charts as one of the largest and most diverse outdoor recreation playgrounds in North America.