Vail vs Aspen – Which One is Better?

Vail vs Aspen

Vail vs Aspen

Differences and Similarities Between Aspen and Vail

Vail and Aspen are, arguably, the two best ski resort towns of Colorado. Both share a friendly rivalry due to a number of similarities and differences. Vail and Aspen attract hundreds of tourists year-round due to their scenic beauty and gorgeous terrain; they also enjoy geographical proximity. If you are visiting one of them, you can plan a visit to the other one as well.

If you want to find out which one of these towns is the best for your needs, you should be aware of the similarities and differences that exist between them. Read on!

Similarities between Vail and Aspen

Vail and Aspen share the following similarities:

1) Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Both Vail and Aspen are home to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado; these towns are known to host the most beautiful parts of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Vail spans across 5,289 acres while Aspen covers 5,500 acres. Spread across large areas, both of these places offer wonderful resorts, amazing skiing opportunities, and thus the best vacation you could ever have.

If you love snow and are a skiing enthusiast, visiting Vail or Aspen during the winter is the best thing to do. If you aren’t a fan of skiing, both of these areas offer a lot of other activities throughout the year. You’ll have a good time here whether you visit during the summer, autumn, or spring.

2) More than 300-inch Annual Snowfall

Vail and Aspen get more than 300 inches of snow annually. According to last year’s annual record, Vail reported 360 inches of snow while Aspen had 310 inches of snow.

3) Great Tourist Locations

Vail and Aspen are great tourist locations and you might even come across a celebrity. A number of celebrities own residences in Vail and Aspen, which makes these places even more attractive. Thus, Aspen and Vail are the best places to spend your winters, especially if you hope to come across your favorite celebs skiing.

Differences between Vail and Aspen

We found several differences between Vail and Aspen after carefully comparing them and we have listed them below:

1) History

Prior to the 1880s, Aspen was known as a mining town; that’s why it has kind of an Old West ambience. Downtown Aspen is still home to some of the historic buildings. If you are a history buff and an architecture lover, you need to visit Downtown Aspen; it was established as a resort in the 1880s and later turned into a tourist attraction spot.

On the other hand, Vail was established in the 1960s. It quickly became known as a luxurious vacation spot due to the beauty and grandeur that it possesses. You will not notice any remnants of history and culture in Vail as it’s completely devoted to snow and skiing.

When it comes to having a rich history, Aspen gets the trophy.

2) Tourist Types

Vail is a popular tourist destination. It can accommodate more people due to the luxurious resort it is home to. When compared in terms of crowd, Vail appears to be far more crowded than Aspen.

Aspen, on the other hand, has a touch of elegance and formality. If you prefer quiet and less crowded vacations, Aspen is the right place for you. However, if you love a more party-like atmosphere, Vail is the ultimate destination.

Choosing between Aspen and Vail according to their crowds depends totally on your nature and what you personally prefer.

3) Budget and Expense

Aspen proves to be more expensive compared to Vail; the major reason for this is that it has four different resorts (Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass, and Ajax), while Vail only has one. However, both cities appear to provide the same sense of luxury.

If you’re looking for relatively less expensive accommodation, Vail is the better option. It has the fourth largest ski resort of North America which provides topnotch residence, food, and skiing opportunities.

4) Skiing Opportunities

Both Vail and Aspen are known to offer huge skiing opportunities. As far as top elevations and vertical drops are concerned, Vail and Aspen are considered to have some of the highest resorts of Colorado.

Vail’s top elevation is 11,570 feet and its highest vertical drop is 3,450 feet. It also has the fifteenth highest resort of Colorado. On the other hand, Aspen Snowmass has 12,510 feet of top elevation and its vertical drop is 4,406 feet – making it the fifth highest resort of Colorado.

Both Vail and Aspen come with beginner, intermediate, and expert trails but Aspen is the top choice if you want to experience the best and less crowded skiing opportunities.

5) Food and Dining

Aspen and Vail both have a lot of dining options available for all types of appetites. However, Aspen is slightly better renowned for its celebrity-chef restaurants. If you are a foodie, Aspen offers multi-course, gourmet food that is to die for.

Aspen has more restaurants and cafes compared to Vail. All four of its resorts have their own popular dishes and all of them are worth trying; you will also get the most delicious Nobu in Aspen that you have ever tasted.

6) Nightlife

Aspen and Vail have numerous nightlife spots where you can grab a cocktail and dance your heart out until the sun rises. There are several night clubs in both areas and you will definitely find one that you like.

As mentioned above, Aspen has a bit of a formal ambiance and so you cannot just turn up to the club right after skiing; the patrons may require you to change into more formal clothing first. Clubs in Vail, on the other hand, welcome you inside no matter what you appear in.

Getting to Vail

Thinking of taking a quick summer getaway or exciting winter ski trip to Vail? You’ll need to arrange a Vail Airport Shuttle Service well in advance. You can fly into either Denver International or Eagle Regional airports and from there you will be transferred via private SUV airport shuttle service to your condo or hotel. Vail airport shuttles sell out fast in the busy holiday seasons, so be sure to book early!

Going to Aspen

If you prefer to go to Aspen over Vail, then you have a few choices as far as transportation. You can fly into either Aspen/Pitkin County Airport or Vail/Eagle Airport, or DIA. Your driving distance from any airport other than Pitkin is going to be a bit longer than if you were traveling to Vail, but you can still make use of a private Aspen Airport Car Service to make the trip easy and comfortable. If you’re thinking about using a private shuttle service for going to Aspen from Denver International Airport, be sure to also check out our Visitor Guide To Aspen Based Shuttle Services.

Vail to Aspen/ Aspen to Vail

But who says you need to choose one or the other? You can easily travel from Vail to Aspen, or Aspen to Vail and see both of these amazing Rocky Mountain resort towns. The trip is about two hours by car along beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery and historic old towns. It’s easy to take a private car service from Vail to Aspen or vice versa. Who says you need to choose either Aspen or Vail – when you can see both!

Final Thoughts

Vail and Aspen are two of the best tourist destinations of Colorado. We would suggest either one of these breathtaking places for your next summer or winter vacations. Each has its unique characteristics, while sharing many of the same features with the other. You should pick whichever one suits your vacation mood the best.