Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen, Colorado is a world-renowned destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cultural charm. Whether you’re visiting in the winter for its world-class skiing or during the summer for its breathtaking landscapes and cultural festivals, Aspen has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore the top ten things to do in Aspen, Colorado to ensure you make the most of your visit.
1. Hit the Slopes: Skiing and Snowboarding
Aspen is synonymous with winter sports, and its four exceptional ski areas—Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass—offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. With various terrains catering to all skill levels, you can carve down powdery slopes or enjoy the stunning views of the Rockies while you’re at it.
2. Hike the Maroon Bells
The Maroon Bells are two iconic, towering peaks that offer some of the most picturesque views in the entire state. During the summer and fall, these mountains come alive with vibrant wildflowers and changing foliage, making them a hiker’s paradise. Be sure to snap a photo of the reflective Maroon Lake for a picture-perfect moment.
3. Explore the Downtown Area
Aspen’s downtown is a delightful blend of Victorian architecture and modern amenities. Stroll along the charming streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants. The Wheeler Opera House, a historic landmark, often hosts cultural events, music concerts, and more.
4. Visit the Aspen Art Museum
For art enthusiasts, the Aspen Art Museum is a must-visit. The contemporary art museum features rotating exhibits from renowned artists and an architectural design that’s a work of art in itself. Admission is free, making it accessible for everyone to explore.
5. Take a Scenic Drive
The surrounding landscapes are simply awe-inspiring, and taking a scenic drive is one of the best ways to appreciate them. Independence Pass and Castle Creek Road offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and pristine forests. These drives are particularly beautiful during the fall when the leaves change color.
6. Relax in Hot Springs
Unwind after a day of adventure in one of Aspen’s hot springs. Places like Glenwood Springs and Iron Mountain Hot Springs offer a relaxing experience, letting you soak in warm, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by nature.
7. Attend Festivals and Events
Aspen hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. From the Aspen Music Festival to the Food & Wine Classic, these events celebrate the best of culture, food, and music. Check the event calendar to see if there’s something happening during your visit.
8. Mountain Biking and Hiking in Summer
When the snow melts, Aspen transforms into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore the numerous hiking and mountain biking trails, including the Rio Grande Trail, Government Trail, and Sky Mountain Park. These trails offer adventures for all skill levels.
9. Sample Local Cuisine
Aspen is a food lover’s paradise. Its diverse dining scene ranges from casual eateries to gourmet restaurants. Don’t miss out on trying dishes that showcase local flavors, like Rocky Mountain trout or Colorado lamb.
10. Take a Scenic Gondola Ride
For breathtaking views without the effort, hop on the Silver Queen Gondola. This scenic ride takes you to the top of Aspen Mountain, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks. In the winter, it’s an ideal way to appreciate the snow-covered landscape, and in the summer, it offers fantastic hiking opportunities.
11. Fly Fishing in Gold Medal Waters
The Roaring Fork Valley boasts Gold Medal waters, offering fantastic fly fishing opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the local rivers, including the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan, provide an excellent chance to catch trout in a stunning natural setting.
12. Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing
If you’re looking for an alternative winter activity or just want a break from downhill skiing, try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System offers a network of groomed trails for both activities, allowing you to explore the winter wonderland at your own pace.
13. Paragliding and Hang Gliding
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Aspen offers paragliding and hang gliding adventures. Soar through the sky and take in the breathtaking views from a unique vantage point. Experienced guides are available to ensure a safe and thrilling experience.
14. Horseback Riding
Explore the scenic beauty of Aspen and the surrounding areas on horseback. Numerous ranches and outfitters provide guided horseback riding tours, allowing you to experience the wilderness from a different perspective.
15. Ice Skating
During the winter months, ice skating is a delightful activity for all ages. Head to the Silver Circle Ice Rink in downtown Aspen or the Snowmass Village Ice Rink for some old-fashioned fun on the ice.
16. Yoga and Wellness Retreats
Aspen is a wellness-focused destination, with numerous yoga studios and wellness centers. Consider joining a yoga class or participating in a wellness retreat to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit in the serene mountain setting.
17. Photography and Art Workshops
With its stunning landscapes and vibrant art scene, Aspen offers a great backdrop for photography and art enthusiasts. You can find workshops and classes that help you capture the beauty of the region or develop your artistic skills.
18. Jeep Tours
Embark on a guided Jeep tour to explore the rugged backcountry of Aspen. These tours take you to remote locations, including ghost towns, pristine wilderness, and historic mining sites, offering a deeper understanding of the area’s history and geography.
19. Dog Sledding
Experience the thrill of dog sledding in the snowy wilderness surrounding Aspen. Professional mushers lead teams of huskies through the pristine forests, providing an exciting and memorable adventure.
20. Astronomy Nights
Join the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies for astronomy nights and stargazing sessions. The clear mountain skies offer an excellent opportunity to observe the night sky and learn about the constellations, planets, and galaxies with the help of experts.
Aspen, Colorado is an all-season destination that captivates visitors with its natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and endless adventure opportunities. Whether you’re a ski enthusiast, a nature lover, or a culture aficionado, you’ll find an array of exciting activities to enjoy. So pack your bags and experience the magic of Aspen for yourself!