Aspen, Colorado is as known as a premier winter resort area for skiers and snowboarders as it is for the glitz and glam of the celebrity set that flocked here in the 70’s and 80’s. While it’s still a place that shimmers with style and stars, the Aspen Snowmass area of Colorado has more to offer than champagne powder and bluebird days. For the many visitors of Aspen year round, this beautiful Colorado mountain town is also known for its extensive mix of arts programs, cultural events, and vivacious nightlife. We have a variety of restaurants that will not leave you wanting, shopping, lodging and an activities that caters to a range of budgets and experiences.
Celebrated for its deep roots and rich history, Aspen sits at the upper end of the Roaring Fork Valley. Surrounded by four world-class ski mountains and miles of back country trails, Aspen is one of Colorado’s favorite year-round resort areas. This setting is perfect enclave to those who want to work, play and nourish the mind, body and spirit. Aspen offers something for everyone.
Things To Do In Aspen
Much of the area around Aspen is public land within the White River National Forest. The spectacular Elk Mountains rise to the south and west of Aspen, with the Williams Mountains and the Sawatch Range to the east. The Maroon Creek, Castle Creek and Hunter Creek Valleys are all easily accessible from town and play host to plentiful hikes. Much of the high mountain area surrounding Aspen lies within designated wilderness areas in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Hunter-Fryingpan, and Collegiate Peaks wildernesses.
Aspen is a mountain town at nearly 8,000 feet, so weather can sometimes be hard to predict. The key to being comfortable anytime of year in our beautiful outdoor playground is versatility. Whether your trip is winter or summer or anytime in between, LAYERING is key. Lightweight, breathable fabrics that you can layer as needed are essential. Some must-haves for any time of year are:
Fleece, lightweight layers
Independence Pass is generally open from Memorial Day until snow falls in earnest, usually in late October to early November. During the winter months, heavy snowfall at the highest elevations of the Pass makes it impossible to travel. If travelling by car, you must take I-70 to Glenwood Springs. Road signs along the highway indicate whether it is open or closed. For more information on INDEPENDENCE PASS, please go to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Aspen is truly a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers! Whether it’s downhill skiing in untouched snow or hiking through dense aspen groves, we’ve got all that your adventurous heart desires. Epic powder days in winter turn to amazing rafting come spring and summer. Warm days lead adventurers to endless trails to climb, hike or bike, outdoor concerts, water sports and cultural pursuits. No matter how you choose to spend a day in Aspen (downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, biking, rafting or fly-fishing) there is an unforgettable outdoor activity right at your doorstep in Aspen.
Arts & Culture
Aspen has a very active arts & culture scene for being a small town. Our winter and summer calendars are full of events including: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a number of art openings and galleries and public sculpture, the Wheeler Opera House hosts many music and comedy acts throughout the year, Aspen Film has film festivals and Academy Screenings. Frequent public lectures from speakers from around the world on subjects from art to health and everything in between. Since the summer of 1949 the Aspen Music Festival & School has supplied classical music to concert halls and quaint street corners alike.
The Aspen Ideas Festival is a world-renowned gathering of some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the world, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen has become an iconic Aspen event, Jazz Aspen Snowmass continues to draw the biggest acts in the music world, the Aspen Art Museum is a globally recognized leader in contemporary art, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet annually garners rave reviews, Theatre Aspen pulls the curtain on a terrific playbill every year; and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
In 2013 Aspen was awarded the Colorado Creative Industries Governor’s Arts Award along with Pueblo, Colorado. The award recognizes excellence in the arts in your community. The below video will be presented at the Awards Ceremony in April 2013, and was designed to showcase all the culture offerings that Aspen has.
Dining & Nightlife
With more than 100 bars and restaurants Aspen has something for everyone. With many high end steak houses and sushi joints, Aspen can compete with big city tastes. Don’t worry though, we also have dinners, fast food and farmers markets. You can get a great hamburger for under $10 as well as find a Master Sommelier at the Little Nell Hotel. We have bakeries, American, French, Italian, Chinese, Mexican restaurants and more. Travel by dog sled, sleigh, SnoCat or gondola in the winter or simply dine al fresco any time of year on one of our many outdoor patios. For any meal of the day there is a restuarant, coffee shop, lounge or deli that can fill your cravings — you’ll be at a favorite spot before you know it.
Aspen is known as a premier ski town, but we know how to keep your social calendar full too. We take après to new heights all winter long and into the summer months too. Enjoy poolside cocktails into the early evening then browse through a few galleries before heading out for an extraordinary meal. Top your anything-but-ordinary-night off with billiards, dancing or wine tasting at one of our lively clubs and bars.
Shopping in Aspen isn’t only for the designer-inclined diva. Choices for shopping here in Aspen run the gamut from consignment to Prada. We of course have a number of ski & snowboard shops, but we also have a variety of the following: Antiques, art, beauty, women & men’s clothing, children’s, toy stores, luggage, gift, candy, jewelry, leather, luggage, eye-ware and so much more it will make your head spin.
Aspen’s pedestrian malls are the perfect place for a leisurely shopping excursion where one can find fine art, clothing and gear. Aspen’s Saturday Market (every Saturday from June 16th through October 13th, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. After Labor Day 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) is another great draw and showcases locally grown produce and artisans while being a great place for socializing too. Live music is on hand to keep your spirits up as you shop around for a little bit of everything.
Kids & Family Activities
Think Aspen isn’t a great place for families? Well then think again because recreation is our thing. There are so many ways to enjoy Aspen, both indoors and out. Start outside with skiing, sledding, skateboarding, biking, rafting, rock climbing, camping, horse back riding and more. There are even camps for kids in all different disciplines like art, sport, environment and even physics. The Aspen Recreation Center, has a 32ft. indoor rock-climbing wall, a 2-story water slide, ice skating rink and more. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is a gem of a resource that the entire family can enjoy. Kids will love meeting the resident golden eagle and learning about all of the local wildlife. It’s like a zoo and a museum and a fun hands-on classroom all in one.
Here’s a list of our favorite summer activities for the kids while you’re visiting Aspen. For a complete business listing see below.
1. The ASPEN RECREATION CENTER! This place is a dream for parents and kids alike. Swim at the indoor pool and ride the slide for hours, or try out rock climbing on the tower, beginners welcome! With an onsite snack bar, locker room, ice rink, pool and work out facility the whole family will be entertained.
2. Guided Adventures. Explore the surrounding mountains via jeep, horse or foot – take your pick! Local jeep tours will take you to scenic vistas in a rugged but comfortable ride, or if sampling the Wild West is more your speed, take a guided horseback ride into the wilderness with a picnic lunch. For the active off-road family strap on your hiking boots for a guided hike to experience each trail crossing and grassy meadow on your own two feet. Better yet, let the guides teach you a thing or two about the basics of climbing and strap into a rope and harness to hang out in the hills, mountain style.
3. Splash! Ever try whitewater rafting? No trip to the Colorado Rockies would be complete without it! We’ve got three area rivers (Roaring Fork, Colorado and Arkansas) that have everything from Class IV whitewater to mellow day floats to accommodate the whole family via raft, kayak, ducky or stand up paddle board.
4. Mini-golf anyone? FORE! The Silver Circle Ice Rink located across from the Rubey Park Bus Station at the base of Aspen Mountain transforms into a miniature golf course in Aspen’s summer months. The location can’t be beat and the kids will be entertained day or night with this family fun activity. And CP Burger is right there with the perfect kid-friendly nosh.
5. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). ACES is abuzz with children’s voices and laughter during the summer months.They offer fun and educational kids’ classes and camps that allow your child to experience and learn about the natural world. Let your child wonder in nature and see how quickly they can foster their curious minds!
6. Aspen Historical Society. Who said history isn’t fun? Teach your kids about Aspen’s rich history starting with the Ute Indians onto the Mining Boom to the beginning of life as a ski town. The Historical Society also offers several different tours throughout the winter season as well. Go to their website for a full menu of tours and events.
7. Camps! Aspen loves its outdoor adventures in any season, but it’s second best friend is Arts and Culture of course! It’s a good thing we’re familiar with exercising the mind AND the body around here. See what places like the Ajax Adventure Camp, Aspen Art Museum, Theatre Aspen, and ACES to name a few, have in store. Your kids could be coming home from a day of creative activity that will wear them out and have the begging for more!
8. Skateboarding! Whether you’re a novice or a shredder, Aspen’s very own Rio Grande Skate Park is a great place to play. Located near the popular Rio Grande Park and Trail the Skate Park includes all types of terrain from a clover bowl, peewee bowl and pool wall extension to a deep vertical bowl. Lessons are available through Radio Boardshop and All Star Skate Camp.
9. Smuggler Mine Tours. Many enjoy hiking up Smuggler mountain, but did you know that underneath that hike is one of the most famous and productive of Aspen’s silver mines? The Smuggler produced a world record nugget of nearly pure silver that weighed almost a ton! The guided tour takes guests into the mine and shows firsthand how difficult the hard rock mining of the late 19th century was. Call (970) 925-2049 for more information.
10. Top of the Mountain FUN. Step right up! Ride the Silver Queen Gondola all the way to the top of Aspen Mountain. Once you’re there try out the climbing wall or take a jump with Eurobungy. If that’s not your thing there’s disc golf, an obstacle course and even the popular silver nugget dig! Mine for silver just like the old days in Aspen – the small silver nuggets can be taken as a souvenir. Have lunch at the Sundeck or pack a picnic of your own. The view from 11,212 ft. isn’t too shabby either!
Welcome to Aspen Colorado Skiing & Snowboarding!
Aspen, Colorado is among the most popular ski destinations in the United States. Aspen is located in west-central Colorado, approximately a three and a half hour drive or a twenty five minute flight from Denver in the Rocky Mountains. Aspen and the nearby town of Snowmass Village serve four major ski areas (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk), the highest concentration anywhere in Colorado. The surrounding peaks are some of Colorado’s most beautiful, and provide an expansive playground for winter activities: including downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and more. Aspen is famous for its champagne powder and blue sky days, not to mention a celebrity sighting or two. We invite you to join us on the slopes or fireside for après ski….see you there.
Located in legendary Aspen, Colorado, Aspen Mountain (also referred to as Ajax) offers 76 trails spread across 673 acres. 8 lifts service the mountain, which rates 0% of its terrain for beginners, 48% for intermediates, and 32% for advanced and expert riders. Rising straight out of downtown Aspen, the mountain offers challenging bumps, steeps and varied terrain for the adventurous snowboarder and skier.
Rated as the easiest of Aspen’s four mountains, this gem of an area is the perfect environment for beginners to find their ski-legs. Seven lifts service 43 trails that are predominantly rated for beginners and intermediates. Most of the mountain is groomed nightly to raise your skiing confidence. It is a great place to drop off the kids while you ski one of Aspen’s other mountains. Snowboarders can get radical at two terrain parks and a half-pipe. Lessons are available for all levels. Three restaurants cater to hunger and thirst.
Aspen Highlands is a 12,500-foot mountain with ambiance and attitude. It is meant to be skied – hard. With 970 acres to play in and a 3,635-foot vertical, the mountain is skewed to the advanced skier and is constantly looking for ways to further challenge those who come here to do just that. Deep Temerity, a speedy triple chair, climbs 1,700 vertical feet in a little over seven minutes and accesses acres of new advanced and expert landscape. There is plenty of mid-mountain easier terrain to practice on before hitting the steeps. But for the locals, it’s Highland Bowl – an off-piste thrill ride which culminates in untracked descents down 45-degree pitches.
Snowmass Ski Resort is located 9 miles west of the town of Aspen, Colorado, 220 miles west of Denver in Snowmass Village, Colorado. This mountain has 3,128 acres of terrain and an average of 300 inches of snow with 90 ski trails, served by 23 lifts. Snowmass’ terrain is 6% beginner, 50% intermediate, 12% advanced, and 32% expert. Snowmass Ski Resort is renowned for wide, groomed cruisers and trails.
Getting Around & Services
RFTA buses provide free and frequent service within Aspen, as well as to the airport, Aspen Recreation Center, Free skier shuttles leave Rubey Park every 10 to 15 minutes bound for Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas. The Bus Station is located downtown at Galena and Durant. For Schedules call (970)925-8484. Taxis are available by calling 970-925-taxi. Car Service is also available through CTS by calling 970-925-8842. Parking in Aspen is metered through the “pay and display” system, in effect daily from 10am – 6pm. Parking passes are available for purchase from the Visitors’ Center at the Wheeler Opera House. Daily parking is also available in he Aspen Parking Garage at the Rio Grande Parking Plaza—open 24 hours. 970-920-5430
Gas & Grocery
24-hour convenience and gas station: The Aspen Store 435 E. Main Street, (970) 920-2370
Grocery stores Aspen City Market 711 E. Cooper Avenue, (970) 925-2590
Clark’s Market 300 Puppy Smith Street, (970) 925-8046
Snowmass Village Market Snowmass Shopping Center, (970) 923-4444
Pharmacy/General Store/Sundries / Costumes Carl’s Pharmacy 306 E. Main Street, (970) 925-3273
Aspen Medical Care 611 W. Main Street, (970) 920-0104
Aspen Valley Hospital (970) 925-1120
Aspen Counseling Center (970) 920-5555
Community Health Services (970) 920-5420