Aspen in Summer Defies Ordinary
Located in a pristine mountain valley at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River, Hunter Creek, Castle Creek and Maroon Creek, Aspen's beauty is awe-inspiring. While its ski slopes are world famous, Aspen’s adventure and cultural scene heats up when the snow melts. Climbers ascend granite faces on Independence Pass, foodies hobnob with industry leaders, mountain bikers weave down smooth single-track and musicians entertain amongst aspen groves. People from all walks of life are beckoned to the idyllic mountain town with roots as deep as the mountains are high, making Aspen a haven for nurturing mind, body and spirit.
The following are some examples of Aspen’s elevated offerings.
Whether searching for a leisurely stroll along a meandering creek or a more technical ascent, Aspen has hiking trails for all abilities and fitness levels.
Aspen’s local trail system, accessible from the downtown core, is perfect for half-day hikes. Favorites include the Hunter Creek Trail, a beginner to intermediate day hike; Sunnyside Trail, a great spot to see Aspen valley views; and the Ute Trail, a more strenuous hike because of its switchbacks, but worthwhile for the views at the summit. Maps of local trails are available at Ute Mountaineer.
The most photographed peaks in North America, the Maroon Bells, are known for their rugged splendor and challenging hiking trails, but many visitors opt to spend the day enjoying a picnic beside picturesque Maroon Lake followed by a light hike to Crater Lake.
Colorado 14ers(peaks higher than 14,000 feet) represent some of the best mountaineering in the Aspen area. Ranging from highly technical, knife-edge summits to tame, switch-back ascents, seven of Colorado’s 14ers are located in the Elk Mountain Range bordering Aspen. Local outfitter Aspen Expeditionsleads guided trips.
Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley is one of the country’s premier cycling destinations. There are so many trails, it’s impossible to experience them all in one vacation. Options range from mild-mannered and smooth pavement to rocky and extreme lift-accessed downhill trails. Aspen’s cycling routes remain un-crowded even in peak summer months, offering dozens of trails in a wilderness setting and miles of undulating pavement devoid of car traffic. During most of the bike season, the weather is dry and sunny and the high elevation keeps temperatures comfortably cool even amidst the hotter months of the year.
For road riders, look no further than Independence Pass, where the best riders in the world will descend upon Aspen for the 2nd Annual USA Pro Challenge. For a more relaxed ride, the mostly paved Rio Grande Trail is ideal. Mountain bikers will find hundreds of miles of trails from scenic jeep roads to technical downhill single track.
“Aspen offers one of the best combinations of road and mountain biking in the country,” says Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion and Aspen resident. “The high-elevation training is unique—we’re at 8,000 feet and can ride to 12,000 feet. This valley has an endless network of roads, mountain passes and single track—all with amazing scenery. Also, I love the cycling community in Aspen—from the core local racers to the moms riding up Ashcroft.”
One of only a handful of Colorado mountain towns to offer a raging river running directly through its center, Aspen is truly a destination for rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddling. Aspen’s aquatic adventures range from mellow float trips to hair-raising rides down the Class IV Slaughterhouse Falls.
Water-lovers take to the rivers on a variety of equipment, including traditional rafts and kayaks with Blazing Adventures, Aspen Whitewater Rafting and other local outfitters. Aspen Kayak and Stand-Up Paddling Academy, innovated “river surfing” which uses a stand-up paddle board to ride the standing waves on sections of the Colorado River.
Adventure isn’t the only specialty on Aspen’s summer menu. Akin to winter’s famed après-ski attractions, Aspen’s summertime après-adventure offerings are unrivaled. From hot pool scenes spiked with creative cocktails to nearly nightly live music shows, Aspen has all the amenities of an ideal base camp. Soothe tired muscles at sublime spas, or refuel at one of 130+ fabulous restaurants. For visitors looking to flex their minds after exhausting their muscles, Aspen’s cultural calendar peaks during the summer season with daily events and weekly festivals fêting everything from food and wine to classical music and literature.
To create your own Aspen adventure, visit www.aspenchamber.org or call 970.925.1940 or 800-670-0788.