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Aspen in the Summertime

25th April 2017 | Shannon Lukens

News Regions: Aspen Snowmass, Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Resorts in this article: Aspen Snowmass

Aspen, Colorado Photo by Jeremy Swanson

Aspen, Colorado Photo by Jeremy Swanson

Summertime in Aspen is the best time to be in the Roaring Fork Valley. Any local will tell you that. While the skiing in the winter is fantastic, the summers are the best. The air is crisp and cool, the sky is the deepest blue, flowers are blooming throughout town and everyone is happy.

Aspen is an old mining town with gorgeous Victorian homes, glamorous hotels, the historic Wheeler Opera House and remarkable shopping in buildings that are over 100 years old. The opulence of the mining era shows through on every street corner. Today, the buildings have been remodeled inside and they are filled with art galleries, jewelry stores, high-end clothing and incredible restaurants. Culture thrives with international music festivals, world-renowned conferences and art museums of the highest quality.

The town is also known as a hideaway for the rich and famous. Just walking the streets of Aspen is entertainment in itself. The shopping is truly amazing. The neighborhoods are filled with gorgeous homes, which can be quaint while truly magnificent. Surrounding all of this are mountains towering up on all sides of the town. In the summer, they're green and lush and inviting.

Annual Events

Each summer, the internationally renowned Aspen Music Festival and School attracts 100,000 visitors to the town. Students come from the world over, many internationally acclaimed, to play in the Aspen Music Tent. The state-of-the-art venue seats over 2,000 people. Get tickets and enjoy the concerts. Another option that's a favorite of the locals is to bring a blanket, a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, and sit outside on the lawn to listen to the concert for free. The festival goes from late June through August. 

The Snowmass Village Rodeo in Snowmass Village is a highlight of summertime in the Aspen area. Cowboys compete in saddle bronc riding, team roping, bareback riding, dally ribbon roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The calf scramble is fun for the kids. Everyone in the family loves the Western stagecoach race around the arena. You can even go panning for silver. The Snowmass rodeo also has a Western BBQ. The rodeo is typically held on Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summertime. 

Learn about Aspen's fascinating mining history with a tour of the Compromise and Smuggler Mines. It was the discovery of silver in the Compromise Mine in the late 1800s that led to Aspen's silver-mining boom. The world's largest silver nugget, weighing in at over 1,800 pounds, roughly the size of a Volkswagen, was removed from the Smuggler Mine in 1894. Tours of the Compromise on Aspen Mountain are offered during the summer only. Tours of the Smuggler are available year-round. Children under five are not allowed. 


Biking is one of the most popular summer activities throughout Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Aspen has mountain biking trails for all abilities, from paved paths to country dirt roads, to rugged double- and single-track trails. Hop on the Rio Grande bike path, which is a paved, two-mile trail that runs along the Roaring Fork River out of town. The Government Trail spans almost 10 miles from Aspen to Snowmass Village and is one of Aspen's most popular mountain bike trails. Hit the trails on the mountain, and try to make it to the 11,212-foot summit of Aspen Mountain and catch a ride down on one of the trails. In Snowmass, you can transport your bike to the top on the Burlingame chairlift.


Hiking the trails in and around Aspen will give you a great workout, as well as a gorgeous view. The Maroon Bells is one of the most popular hikes. The area is known for its twin 14,000-foot peaks. Cathedral and American Lakes are classic hikes in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, which was one of five areas in Colorado designated as wilderness in the original Wilderness Act of 1964. Both are only 13 miles from Aspen in the beautiful Ashcroft Valley.

Other hikes include Lost Man Loop, 18 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82, on Independence Pass. It has spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Hunter Creek is conveniently located in town. It's a moderate hike with views of the Elk Mountain Range and town of Aspen. Guides offer half-day and 3/4- to full-day hikes, based on ability. They'll lead the way plus fill you in on the history of the area and provide information on the vegetation, wildlife and wildflowers. Overnight trips to Crested Butte via East Maroon trail are also available.

Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO  - © Jeremy Swanson

Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO

Copyright: Jeremy Swanson

The Maroon Bells are the most photographed mountains in North America. You can hike all over the area. Shuttle buses are available from the Aspen Highlands Base Area. Or you can catch a city bus from the Ruby Park Bus Station in town and take it up to Highlands. There is a fee for the bus. You can also take your bike up and ride the 11 miles down. Or if you're really want a workout, you can ride up the hill and then back down again. There are restrooms at the top. Buses run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Before 8 a.m., you can drive your own car up to the Bells.

On the way up to the Maroon Bells is the T-Lazy-7 Ranch. They have great horseback riding available with tours all day. They also have bonfires and hayride dinners. Maroon Bells. 

The Aspen Saturday Market is a popular summer activity.  - © Jeremy Swanson

The Aspen Saturday Market is a popular summer activity.

Copyright: Jeremy Swanson

The Mill Street Fountain is a must-do for everyone who visits Aspen, especially the kids. It's one of Aspen's main attractions. The fountain is at ground level, and it's computer-driven. The jets squirt up out of the ground randomly and in a pattern that is constantly changing. Kids will make every attempt to not get wet but they always do. You'll find the Mill Street Fountain in front of the Wheeler Opera House and the Popcorn Wagon. Then take a ride on the Silver Queen Gondola up to the top of Aspen Mountain. You can hike, or ride your mountain bike. They have daily activities for the kids, such as carnival games or even yoga. Check the schedule at the base of the gondola.

A highlight of the weekend is the Farmer's Market in downtown Apen every Saturday. Vendors run the gamut with food to arts and crafts. The locals love it which means you will, too. Visit the ghost towns of Ashcroft and Independence. Walk among the old, abandoned buildings. The Aspen Historical Society offers guided tours of Ashcroft, but you can do it on your own with a guidebook. Ashcroft is 14 miles southeast of Aspen on Castle Creek Road. Independence is 17 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82. 


Shannon Aspen Story
Aspen Summer - © Jeremy Swanson
Aspen Summer - © Jeremy Swanson

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