We often think of Aspen as a winter destination because of its world-class ski mountains, but summer here is unbeatable. Between the concerts, outdoor recreation, events, restaurants and sight-seeing, there’s no better place to be. We put together some of our favorite reasons why Aspen should be your top summer destination this year.
The average high in Aspen is 80 degrees in the summer, and once the sun goes down, it will drop into the mid to high 40s. There are rarely any bugs, and there’s no humidity. Let’s just say that Aspen is the perfect place to be in the summertime!
Whether you’re on a road trip or just want to get out of town for a half day, take a drive over Independence Pass. The mountain pass, which is along the Continental Divide, sits at 12,095 feet. There’s a scenic overlook and lots of nearby hiking trails.
The top of Independence Pass is located 19 miles west of Aspen and 18 miles east of Twin Lakes.
Food and Wine Classic in Aspen
I don’t know about you, but we sure are foodies and love wine as well. Meet and greet world-renowned celebrity chefs and winemakers right here in Aspen! Purchase your tickets ASAP because this is always a sold-out event. Learn more about the 2018 event >
Also known to be the most photographed mountains in North America, the Maroon Bells are a must-see during your Aspen vacation. The “Bells” sit right behind Maroon Lake, which offers a breathtaking view. If you are active and want to explore the U.S. Wilderness Area, we highly recommend hiking up to Crater Lake. It’s a moderate hike and is ranked the No. 1 hike out of 58 other trails in Aspen.
In the summer, the best way to get to the Maroon Bells is via shuttle. You can park in the Aspen Highlands garage, or take a bus from town, and shuttle into the Maroon Bells from there.
If you love to stay fit and are an outdoorsy person, a summer trip Aspen/Snowmass is perfect for you, as there are numerous hikes in the area. One of our all-time favorite hikes is the Smuggler/Hunter Creek loop, which is located just outside of downtown and has a scenic overlook of all of Aspen.
Another one of our favorite (quick) hikes is The Grottos. Located only 9 miles east of Aspen, The Grottos is a perfect spot to stop on your way up Independence Pass. The Grottos trail is a 1.2-mile loop that features waterfalls and caves. It’s an awesome spot for a picnic!
Jass Aspen Snowmass (JAS)
This year will be the 27th year of Jazz Aspen Snowmass, a local non-profit organization dedicated to bringing jazz and other forms of music to our area. JAS hosts multiple events that happen year-round, including Jas Café at the Little Nell, the Cooking School of Aspen, and the Aspen Art Museum. During the summertime, head to the Benedict Music Camp in the West End, which includes food trucks, cocktails, and an unbeatable atmosphere. Also, you can’t forget the Labor Day Weekend music festival, which is held outside at the Snowmass Town Park.
Aspen has great options for outdoor dining spots — and a wide variety of fabulous restaurants for a small town in general. From the famous Red Onion to the quaint Creperie, none of the restaurant options will disappoint.
Pack a lunch and have a picnic on top of Aspen Mountain (known as “Ajax” to locals). Start by driving up Midnight Mine Road (on the backside of the mountain) and end up at the Sundeck (where the gondola ends).
Relax and take in the views at the top, then drive down the frontside of Ajax — right into downtown.
Aspen Farmers Market
The Aspen Saturday Market takes place weekly from June 16 through October 6. Locals love the farmers market, which has been around since 2001. Only items grown or produced in Colorado are permitted to sell during the downtown event. We recommend the Palisades peaches and Aspen Crunch granola! Visit the farmers market >
There is a variety of great golfing in the Roaring Fork Valley. The Aspen Golf Club is a public, 18-hole golf course with a PGA award-winning pro shop, tennis courts, and restaurant.
The Aspen Golf Course is located just outside of downtown Aspen (near the airport), which makes it a convenient option. And, it is only a 10-minute drive from Snowmass Village.
There are plenty of great fly fishing guides between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, depending on where you would like to go and if you prefer a float trip or wade trip. The main fishing spots are on the Roaring Fork River or the Frying Pan River in Basalt. This is the perfect activity for some bonding time with family or friends. Learn more about fly fishing in Aspen >
Mountain biking is the “next big thing” in the Western States, especially here in Aspen/Snowmass! If you enjoy cross-county mountain biking, head to Snowmass and try some of our favorite trails: Sky Mountain Park Trails, the Rim Trail, and the Tom Blake Trail. If you prefer to bike downhill only, take the Elk Camp Gondola up and spend the day at the Snowmass Bike Park.
There are several lunch options at the Snowmass Bike Park (like the Elk Camp Restaurant) as well as the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster.
Hot Air Balloon
Watch the sunrise over our majetic mountains here in Aspen/Snowmass with your loved one or your family. Get picked up from your vacation rental before sunrise and head to Snowmass Town Park to the hot air balloon. Enjoy champagne and some brunch once you’ve landed back on the ground! Book your hot air balloon trip >
Pine Creek Cookhouse
Either bike or drive through the beautiful Castle Creek Valley. On the way, stop at the Ashcroft Ghost Town to learn about the history of Aspen. The Pine Creek Cookhouse is located at the end of the road and has a relaxing patio with gorgeous views of the Elk Mountain Range!
Aspen Music Festival and School
The Aspen Music Festival and School was founded in 1949 and is known to be one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in the country. Talented young men and women train together with some of the top instructors and put on jaw-dropping performances for a total of 8 weeks. The 2018 summer season is themed “Paris, City of Light” and will take place between June 20 and August 19. You can buy tickets to individual performances or passes to the entire season. You’ll also probably notice music school students performing around town, especially in the pedestrian mall!
Take the Elk Camp Gondola (in Snowmass) or the Silver Queen Gondola (on Aspen Mountain) and check out the fun activities to enjoy with your family.
From hiking and mountain biking to yoga and lawn games, there is something for everyone. You’ll find dining at the top of each gondola as well — the Elk Camp Restaurant is in Snowmass, and the Sundeck Restaurant is on Aspen Mountain. Both are grab-and-go and have a large variety of options, from paninis to pizza.
Whitewater Rafting is a hugely popular activity in the summertime, and there are many trips (and levels) to choose from. Take on the big rapids or having a quiet and relaxing float — the choice is yours!
Starting June 13, the Snowmass Rodeo will take place every Wednesday night through August 22 at the Snowmass Town Park. The rodeo grounds (and BBQ by Conundrum Catering Co.) open at 5 p.m., and the rodeo begins at 7 p.m. sharp.
Free Outdoor Concerts
There are free outdoor concerts on Fanny Hill in Snowmass almost every week of the summer! Grab some blankets, wear comfortable clothing, and bring layers — it can be chilly once the sun sets. You’ll be all set to relax (or dance) while a variety of talented musicians jam out on stage.