Aspen lives up to its winter reputation. Four ski mountains make up the terrain for the world-renowned Aspen Snowmass resort. Aspen Mountain, locally referred to as Ajax, rises up directly from downtown, bringing a whole new meaning to ski-in/ski-out. Buttermilk Mountain, home of the Aspen X Games, is a kids’ and beginners’ paradise. Aspen Highlands boasts the legendary Highland Bowl, and Snowmass offers the largest acreage and diversity by having something for everyone. Aspen’s beautiful scenery and open space also lends itself well to other types of winter recreation, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, fly-fishing and even hot-air ballooning. After a hard day of play enjoy Aspen’s legendary après ski scene, or head out for dinner at one of our world-class restaurants. Top off the night by enjoying a show at Belly Up, Aspen’s 500-person live music venue featuring renowned artists. Aspen’s big-city cultural institutions, well known for their summer programming, have plenty of events throughout the winter months as well, leaving you inspired.
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THINGS TO DO
Roaring Fork Valley
Beginners will be comfortable on the Rio Grande Trail, which starts behind the post office on Puppy Smith Road and follows a paved path most of the way along the Roaring Fork River. An intermediate option is a 1.5-mile trek up Smuggler Mountain Trail, leading to a lookout point with stunning views of Aspen below. Those ready for a challenge can take on the rigorous 8.5-mile excursion up to secluded Conundrum Hot Springs, while the trailheads in and around nearby Maroon Bells are a quintessential bucket-list item and encompass various difficulty levels. Also, don’t miss an opportunity to view abundant swathes of wildflowers in the summer: The Cathedral Lake and American Lake trails are just two prime spots for amazing color.
Save room in your itinerary to linger al fresco over an expertly prepared meal at one of Aspen’s many amazing restaurants. For fine dining, you can’t go wrong with the Forbes five-star Element 47 in The Little Nell hotel. The seasonally inspired dishes are complemented by an extensive wine list — and by “extensive” we mean there are more than 20,000 bottles in the cellar! A farm-to-table approach is emphasized in kitchens across Aspen, and where better to get a sneak peek of local ingredients than at the Aspen Saturday Market? Here vendors supply their best Colorado-grown produce and crafts from mid-June to mid-October. And of course, the mother of epicurean fests happens each June when the FOOD & WINE Classic comes to town, offering the chance to rub elbows with celebrity chefs, drop in on cooking demos and sample plenty of great bites.
“I came to Aspen for the winter, but stayed for the summer,” is how many locals respond after telling about the years they have lived here. Summer offers even more opportunities for outdoor recreation than winter. No matter what your outdoor ambitions are you will find something to excite you. The rafting, hiking, biking, rock-climbing, fishing, golf, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning and paragliding combined with the fresh air and gorgeous natural surroundings create the perfect place to get outside and explore, all within steps of downtown. Summertime also boasts an events calendar that can rival any major city. The quality of programming from Aspen’s diverse arts and cultural institutions is a big draw for visitors throughout the summer. The Aspen Music Festival & School puts on an impressive 300+ event program from June through August, The Aspen Institute hosts signature programming such as the Ideas Festival & Security Forum on the idyllic Herbert Bayer-inspired campus, and Theatre Aspen’s summer repertory features Broadway stars in an intimate theater in the park. Once you have been thoroughly inspired, sit back and relax on the patio of one of our wonderful restaurants, or stroll through downtown enjoying our quintessential small-town community.