Travel Guide: Fantastic Aspen Travel Ideas for Any Season

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Though skiing placed Aspen on the map, Aspen is actually an incredible year-round travel destination. The real question is, which season is better: winter or summer? Regardless of time of year you visit the region, there will be plenty of exciting things to do, from outdoor adventures to high-end shopping. Here are my recommended Aspen travel ideas for any season. Which one will you try?

Related post: 5 Romantic Mountain Getaways in the U.S. for Weekend Luxury

Winter / Spring Aspen Travel Ideas

Winter and spring in Aspen are fun and festive times, and the area’s ski slopes are buzzing with activities and every winter sport imaginable. With four distinct mountains???‚¬?ˆ?Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass???‚¬?ˆ?Aspen has something for every type of winter enthusiast, from thrilling bowl skiing to gentle slopes. An added benefit is that all of Aspen???‚¬™s ski resorts are valid on the same lift ticket and there are a number of passes that offer discounted rates.

Snowmass is an excellent place for all levels of skiing. Beginners will have a great time skiing there and can take advantage of really great group lessons. Lessons have a maximum of five people per instructor, and there are packages that include lessons, equipment rentals, and lift tickets. Though it wasn’t my first time skiing, I’m a beginner skier, and I felt totally comfortable on the “bunny” slopes.

Skiing in Snowmass - Aspen Travel Ideas

Buttermilk also has beginner-friendly and intermediate slopes and is the smallest of the resort areas, while Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain are for more advanced skiers and snowboarders with challenging terrain such as double-black slopes and the Highland Bowl. Even more advanced skiers can take backside tours on fresh powder with companies like Aspen Mountain Powder Tours.

Aside from skiing and snowboarding, you can go snowshoeing, tubing, and snowmobiling (separate from ski areas) in Aspen. You can also take the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain for really gorgeous panoramic views of the Elk Mountains and the surrounding landscape. While at the top, visit Sundeck, which is part of the Little Nell hotel, for a nice meal or snack.

Apres-Ski

Aspen’s apr????s-ski (French for after skiing) scene almost rivals its ski scene, and it’s the equivalent of an alpine happy hour. One of Aspen’s best apr????s-ski spots is Ajax Tavern. The restaurant has a prime location at the base of Aspen Mountain, and it’s a fun way to relax over great food such as wagyu cheeseburgers and cauliflower gratin, and watch skiers zip down the mountain. Snowmass has a very good apr????s-ski scene, too, with places like Venga Venga, New Belgium Ranger Station, and Base Camp Bar & Grill.

Summer / Fall Aspen Travel Ideas

If driving to Aspen from Denver during warmer months, taking the Independence Pass is a must. Part of Colorado State Highway 82, the Independence Pass travels over the Continental Divide at an elevation of more than 12,000 feet above sea level. Though it’s a narrow and winding drive with only a few guardrails, the 32-mile long route is one of the most scenic roads in the country. It’s definitely bucket-list worthy!

After ski season ends in mid to late April, hiking season begins, and the resort areas reopen in mid-May for all kinds of summer activities. Offerings at Aspen Mountain will once again include riding the Silver Queen Gondola, dining and Bluegrass Sundays at Sundeck, outdoor yoga, and hiking.

Maroon Bells

One of the most iconic places to hike, not only in the Roaring Fork Valley, but in the U.S., is Maroon Bells. Located just 10 miles west of Aspen, Maroon Bells is also one of the most photographed places in North America.

Maroon Bells - Aspen Travel Ideas

Maroon Bells is typically open from mid-May through October, and parking passes are required. Summer at Maroon Bells is very popular, and autumn is also an incredible time to visit, as golden aspen groves frame the picturesque Crater Lake.

The best way to visit Maroon Bells is by bus. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) operates a bus service between 8 am to 5 pm from mid-June through early October. Other great hikes near Aspen include the Ute Trail, the Hunte Creek Trail, and the Sunnyside Trail.

Conundrum Hot Springs

In the vicinity of Maroon Bells is Conundrum Hot Springs, a natural hot spring that requires a day hike on an 8.5-mile trail and an elevation gain of 2,400 feet to reach it. But once you do, you’ll be treated to gorgeous scenery filled with aspen, pine, and fir trees and stunning views of the Elk Mountains, and of course, naturally hot waters. Reservations are required to visit.

Other Aspen Travel Ideas

Among the many other wonderful summer activities in Aspen are visits to Snowmass Bike Park, Camp Aspen Snowmass, and the Lost Forest. Snowmass Bike Park offers a network of 25 miles of purpose-built gravity trails that can be accessed from the Elk Camp chairlift. The Bike Park also has a Bike School offering lessons and kid’s bike camps. Camp Aspen Snowmass is a kid’s camp that includes mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and other kid-friendly activities for kids ages 3 to 15. The Lost Forest, essentially a mountain playground, offers several aerial-based activities such as zip lining as well as a climbing wall and hiking trails.

Things to do in Aspen during All Seasons

No matter when you visit Aspen, there are great activities you can do in any season. Art lovers will enjoy visiting the 33,000-square-foot Aspen Art Museum, which showcases contemporary art in its six gallery spaces, rooftop sculpture garden, and outdoor commons.

About an hour west of Aspen, the thermal waters of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort have been welcoming visitors since 1888. Sourced from the mineral water of the Yampah spring, the waters are cooled from 122?‚?°F to 104?‚?°F (40?‚?°C) for the resort???‚¬™s therapy pool and 92?‚?°F for the large main pool. During my visit, the therapy pool was not open, but the main pool was a wonderfully relaxing experience!

The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster offers a thrilling 10-minute ride on an elevated track through the forest near Elk Camp in Snowmass. A fun experience for both kids and adults, there are also special Ullr night rides on select dates. A three-ride ticket costs roughly $50, and tickets are cannot be shared.

Aspen has a variety of wonderful places to shop, from upscale stores like Prada to local boutiques like Sugar. The consignment and thrift store scene is also top-notch. Aspen Thrift Shop, Susie’s Limited, and Amber’s Uptown Consignment are great for spotting unique fashion finds.

Nearly every upscale hotel in Aspen has a luxury spa, and spa time feels incredible after a day or more of skiing. Visit Lupine Spa at Viewline Resort, the Spa at Viceroy Snowmass, the Health Center at the Little Nell, and the Rem????de™ Spa at the St. Regis for a variety of relaxing spa treatments, ranging from CBD massage to hydrafacials.

Lupine Spa - Aspen Travel Ideas

Where to eat in Aspen

There are so many amazing restaurants to try in Aspen. Here are a few of our favorites!

Mawa’s Kitchen @mawaskitchen

From West Africa to Aspen, this Black-owned restaurant serves a variety of healthy food options with an African twist. The pancakes are out of this world, and the company also offers its own granola mix! 🥞

The Crepe Shack @crepeshacksnowmass

The sister property of Mawa’s Kitchen offers a selection of beverages as well as savory and sweet crepes that are light and flavorful. Lady Marmalade, Black Forest, and Alaskan are just a few of the crepes offered, and the lavender matcha latte is divine! 🍵

Aurum Food & Wine @aurumaspensnowmass

This charming restaurant has a fabulous outdoor patio and location at the base of the mountain. The bread, crab cakes, and crispy cauliflower are amazing. 🥦

Campo de Fiori

Campo de Fiori has been serving amazing Italian food, wine, and cocktails since 1994. Located in the heart of Aspen, this woman-owned restaurant has received numerous accolades for its incredible food. How can you go wrong with handmade pasta and Italian wine?🍝

Jour De F????te

Jour De F????te is a cafe serving. Its name means holiday in French because, owner Olivier Mottier believes that every day is worth celebrating. It’s a charming spot to go for delicious coffee, breakfast foods, sandwiches, and salads.

Have you tried any of these Aspen travel ideas? Follow us online @thetripwishlist.

About author

Taryn White

With 75+ countries and all 50 U.S. states crossed off her list, Taryn's wanderlust and wanderlist continue to grow! She loves historic places, off-the-beaten paths, and beautiful beaches. Follow her pursuits on Instagram and tripwishlist.com.

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