Aspen is a premier Colorado ski town and popular destination during the winter months, although it is still pleasurable during the summer. Located just 11 miles west of the Continental Divide, Aspen was founded as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom.
Head to Maroon Bells where you can see the most photographed mountains in North America. There is a public bus from mid-June until Labor Day. The only way to access this location during the winter is by skiing or taking a snowmobile. You can also capture breathtaking views of Maroon Bells from the Aspen Highlands. Hike the 12,392 feet to the top using any one of the 122 trails or take the Deep Temerity lift to the summit.
Independence Pass is the halfway point between Aspen and Twin Lakes. There is a scenic overlook near the pass where visitors can see over the tree line and catch a glimpse of Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado and second-highest mountain in the U.S.
Aspen Mountain is famous for its black-diamond terrain. The location was opened to the public in 1947 and offers skiers and snowboarders an experience unlike any other with a variety of glades, bumps and steeps. There are fantastic views and food at Sundeck on the mountain's summit and Ajax Tavern at its base. Enjoy fresh tracks on the backside of the mountain through the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. Take on 64 miles of terrain with access to 76 trails. Head to the top of the mountain on one of eight lifts.
Smuggler Mine is at the northern edge of the city and the oldest operating silver mine in the Aspen mining district. The largest silver nugget ever mined came from Smuggler Mine and weighed in at more than one ton. During the mine's peak, it produced almost one-fifth of the world's silver output thanks to an extensive tunnel system that traveled more than 1,000 feet below the city of Aspen.
During the summer, visitors can go rafting down the Roaring Fork, Eagle or Colorado rivers and hike up the Elk Mountains for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Biking on Snowmass Mountain allows you to explore more than 50 miles of trails. Try the paintball course on Snowmass Mountain and ride the Elk Camp and Silver Queen gondolas up Snowmass. Fishing in the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers is popular during the summer, as is spending the day in Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Canyon. Visit the historic ghost town of Ashcroft, learn more about its history and see the few buildings that still remain. For those who prefer to stay close to Aspen, rent a cruiser bike and go for a ride around town.
Things to Do in Aspen
Aspen Art Museum: The museum is home to a collection of the newest contemporary artworks and features exhibitions, education and public programs to help engage the public. Exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum have included Teresita Fernandez, Ernesto Neto and Mark Bradford. ArtCrush is a popular event held at the museum that highlights artists, art collectors, curators, gallery owners, celebrities and philanthropists from the around the world. They gather at the Aspen Art Museum for a dinner as well as live and silent auctions to benefit the city's art community.
Wheeler Opera House: The opera house was built following the establishment of Aspen as a boom town after the California Gold Rush in 1848. Jerome Wheeler was a founding father of the city and he constructed a public hall for the community that has a stage, seats upholstered with Moroccan leather and an azure ceiling with studded silver stars on the top floors of the structure. This became known as the Wheeler Opera House and is one of the most beloved buildings in Aspen. Today, the opera house is open more than 350 days a year and past shows have included talents such as Dave Chappelle, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho and Bill Maher.
Shopping: Go on a leisurely shopping trip during your stay in Aspen as you meander through high-end stores and try on designer labels. Enjoy pedestrian malls where you can pick up fine art, clothing and all the gear you'll need during your stay. Stores in Aspen include Burberry, Aspen Sports, Meridian Jewelers and Four Mountain Sports. Each March, the community is home to Aspen Fashion Week and Aspen's Saturday Market is a great place to pick up locally grown produce and handcrafted items while listening to live music.
Dining: There are more than 100 restaurants in Aspen that are sure to satisfy whatever it is you're in the mood for. Family-friendly eateries include Boogie's Diner, Cantina, Little Annie's Eating House, Hickory House Ribs, Brunelleschi's, Paradise Bakery and Cafe and Taster's Great Pizza.