What To Do In Aspen Colorado In The Summer – Aspen, Colorado is synonymous with winter sports and luxury living, but there’s more to this Rocky Mountain town than meets the eye.
Located in the heart of the White River National Forest, Aspen’s natural beauty is evident at every turn. The city is home to four world-class ski resorts, making it a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts from around the world. But winter is only half the story in Aspen!
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In summer, the city comes alive with a different energy. The mountains are dotted with hikers and bikers, and the streets are full of people enjoying the warm weather. There are many lakes, rivers and trails to explore, as well as hot springs, golf courses and more. It’s also a prime destination for stargazers, as you’ll find some of the darkest night skies in the country.
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The city center is also full of fun. You’re never far from great food, and there are plenty of shops and galleries to explore. Then there’s the Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen Festival of Ideas, which each year bring world-renowned artists and speakers to town.
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or staying for a month, you’ll find plenty to do in this charming city. But the hardest part is knowing where to start!
That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the 15 best things to do in Aspen to help you plan the best vacation. Complete your Aspen to-do list with these activities and you’re sure to have a blast exploring this beautiful part of the United States!
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Winter Sightseeing Lift Tickets
Skiing put this Colorado gem on the world map, and it’s still one of the best things to do in Aspen! Whether you’re hitting the slopes for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro, just one descent from the pristine mountains is all it takes to catch up.
There are four mountains to choose from when skiing in Aspen: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Highlands and Ajax (Aspen Mountain). Each offers its own unique terrain, so you can always find a new challenge no matter how often you visit.
If you bring the kids, they’ll love skiing at Buttermilk Mountain. The X Games are held here, so you know the pitch is top notch! In addition, there is a children’s area known as Panda Peak, which is perfect for little ones just learning to ski.
Snowmass is the largest mountain in the Aspen area and is great for all skill levels. It boasts Colorado’s highest peak at over 4,400 feet, so get ready for a serious adrenaline rush! If you’re looking for a real challenge, you’ll love Aspen Highlands. Extreme skiers play here, with a double black diamond pitch that can only be reached by hiking.
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In addition to skiing, Aspen is also a base for other winter sports such as snowboarding, snowboarding and tubing. So if you’re not a fan of skiing or looking for a change of pace, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the snow.
In fact, ice skating is one of the most fun things to do in Aspen. You can hit the slopes at any of the four ski areas, and there’s even a U-ramp at Buttermilk Mountain if you want to show off your tricks!
For more family activities, go skiing or tubing at the Aspen Recreation Center. They have a dedicated ski hill and you can even rent tubes if you don’t have your own.
For something more relaxed, there’s always skating. You can skate at the Aspen Ice Garden or at The Silver Circle. Or take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Aspen. No matter how you decide to spend the winter in Aspen, you’re sure to have fun!
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The chestnut bells are guaranteed to take your breath away. This pristine natural wonder consists of two snow-capped 14,000-foot peaks reflected in a tranquil lake.
In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen her photo without even realizing it. Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed places in North America!
Maroon Bells can be found just 10 miles from Aspen, along Maroon Creek Road and within the White River National Forest. The best time to visit is fall when the leaves change color, but it’s great any time of the year.
There are a few different trips you can take to get to the Maroon Bells, depending on how much time you have. The Maroon Lake Scenic Trail is the shortest and easiest, but the best view of the lake is from the Crater Lake Trail. This 3.6 mile hike is definitely worth the effort!
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You can also camp in the area, but you will need to make a reservation. Because maroon bells are so popular, the US Forest Service restricts access to them during the fall and summer to protect the fragile ecosystem.
Independence Pass boasts some of the best attractions in Aspen thanks to its elevation of 12,095 feet. To get to the trailhead, head east on CO-82 from Aspen until you reach a winding and narrow uphill road.
Once you are at the top, there are many things you can do. Accept opinions, of course! Then go hiking, swimming, biking, sightseeing, or just breathing in the fresh mountain air.
If you’re feeling brave, head to the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Residents of Aspen love to jump into the icy water from the local cliff. We recommend that you check the water levels before jumping in as they can vary depending on the time of year.
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For another icy adventure, head to the nearby Grottos Ice Cave and Grottos Trail. These are some of the best features of the Independence Map (literally)! The ice cave is a short distance from the car park and you will have to climb a temporary staircase to reach the cave. The ice patterns here are amazing and definitely one of the most unique things about Aspen.
In the middle of downtown Aspen, you’ll find a little oasis next to Rio Grande Park and near the Roaring Fork River. This green space is called the John Denver Preserve. John Denver was an American singer who wrote “Rocky Mountain High” and the park is named in his honor.
The retreat is a great place to unwind from all the excitement of exploring Aspen. Pass the famous Song Garden, which features boulders arranged in a circle to represent the circle of life. If you look closely at the rocks, you will see many of John Denver’s most famous words written on them.
The heart of the circle is a tall Colorado blue spruce. The tree symbolizes the spirit of John Denver and is a beautiful place for contemplation.
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If you’re in town in October, be sure to visit the shrine as it celebrates the life of John Denver with musical performances, readings and more. It’s a great way to enjoy fall foliage while paying homage to the legend of the aspen tree.
Riding the Silver Queen Gondola is one of the best things to do in Aspen, literally! The cable car takes you to the top of Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax), which is 11,000 feet above sea level! Sit back and relax because it’s 2.5 miles from the base of the mountain to the top. The hike is never boring, especially since the treetops get smaller and smaller as you climb!
When you reach the top, jump off the gondola and explore. There is also a restaurant with outdoor dining, and depending on when you visit, there are often live music performances and other events. Like most places in Aspen, Aspen Mountain also has beautiful trails for hiking, bird watching, biking, and other outdoor activities.
Aspen may be a ski town, but its hiking trails are just as amazing! Each season brings a whole new world of beauty to Aspen’s hiking trails. In the spring, wildflowers will bloom and you’ll be surrounded by chirping birds.
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In the summer the trails are green and lush, and in the fall you’ll enjoy the view of the aspens changing color as they prepare for winter. Grinding gold and red leaves under your boot is one of the most quintessential Aspen experiences!
Whether you want something relaxing or a little more challenging, you’ll find the perfect trail. The Rio Grande Trail is a relaxed hike that winds along the Roaring Fork River. This means you may occasionally encounter moose and other wildlife drinking from the river.
If you’re feeling ambitious, head to the Four Pass Loop. This 26-mile trail takes you through four different mountain passes and several alpine lakes. The track is full of sharp turns, uneven terrain and beautiful scenery. Just remember to leave enough time to complete the course because it definitely is
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