Each winter, thousands of groms and grown-up dirtbags (not necessarily an oxymoron) descend upon the Aspen X Games to watch the pros catch big air and shred the gnar. In between, there's no shortage of partying, but at some point, you'll need to find a place to lay your head. Insiders know that the Aspen area isn't all chinchilla coats and ski butlers. There are still a handful of classic ski lodges around, and while prices are at a premium now, they still offer great value. Sure, you can try Airbnb or Couchsurfing.com, but caveat emptor during the X Games. If you'd like to ensure you won't be bunking with puking altitude rookies or sticky-fingered skiers with a taste for your gear (or at least score a dorm room limited to four occupants) look no farther. Below, a guide to the best cheap sleeps in the Roaring Fork Valley. Book now, to ensure safe haven during the X Games, held January 23-26, at Buttermilk.
↑ St. Moritz Lodge: Even if you're not tight on cash (admit it, you blew your wad on new fat boys and a plane ticket), you'll find that Aspen's beloved hostel is one of the best sleeps in town. Need proof? Every winter brings repeat guests from all over the world (more than a few have been booking season-long dorm beds for decades). With its classic Alpine motif, and clean, bright rooms (private singles and doubles come with or without shared bath or kitchenettes), a nightly happy hour, and free, plentiful Continental breakfasts, it's a hell of a deal. More compelling, however, are the friendly, helpful staff, and the diverse cast of characters who stay here- you'll find everyone from Japanese backpackers to octogenarian Czech ski bunnies. From $48. 334 W. Hyman Avenue
↑ Mountain Chalet Aspen: Built, owned and operated by the Melville family, this 60-year-old property is Aspen's most classic, Swiss-style digs. It's no frills, but rooms run the gamut from dorm beds to the ooh-la-la Chamonix Deluxe (obligatory antlers mounted on wall; King bed with sitting room; Queen Murphy bed optional). Breakfast, and access to hot tub, steam room, and sauna are included for all guests. Best of all, the Chalet is located a short walk from the gondola. Book a room facing the mountain, and you'll also get a view of the St. Regis just across the street. From $94. 333 E. Durant Avenue
↑ Aspenalt Lodge, Basalt: If you have your own wheels or don't mind taking the bus, the sleepy riverside hamlet of Basalt, 18 miles downvalley from Aspen, is a great option. The Aspenalt is one of the region's best-kept secrets, located on the Frying Pan River. It's nothing fancy, but popular with fly fishermen and snow enthusiasts who enjoy escaping the insanity of high-season Aspen. Enjoy a soak in the riverside hot tub after a day on the slopes or elbowing crowds. Continental breakfast included. Bonus: The bus stop is one block away and costs about six bucks, one-way. From $199. 157 Basalt Center Circle
Insider Tip: You don't need a car in Aspen, and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA; say it like a local: "Raf-ta.") has a transit center downtown. Buttermilk is roughly a five-minute ride away. RFTA runs the length of the entire Roaring Fork Valley, from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, with connections to Rifle.
-By Laurel Miller