Known for their world-class ski slopes and winter resorts, you’d be forgiven for thinking Aspen and Snowmass were a no go in the summer months. But to the contrary – there is so much to do in this corner of Colorado year-round that you’ll find yourself eyeing up local condos and planning your return…
If Aspen and Snowmass don’t make you want to don your boots and succumb to the call of the wild, something’s amiss. Tons of trails snake their way up and around the four mountains of the area: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. There are routes for all levels and abilities. Be aware that at this altitude, you should acclimatize before attempting any tough walks.
2. Stand-up paddleboarding
The folks at Aspen Kayak Academy have been stand-up paddleboarding ever since the sport came on the scene – on a three-hour lesson you’ll test your balance, learn a variety of paddle strokes and let’s face it, probably fall in.
3. Mountain Biking
Quite possibly the most adrenaline-pumping activity on this list, you can satisfy your need for speed by zipping down a mountain on two wheels. Four Mountain Sports offer a variety of rental packages and can teach you the basics before you descend through forests of Aspen trees and wildflowers.
4. White-water rafting
Ride the rapids of the Roaring Fork river with Blazing Adventures, who will kit you out with wetsuits and guide you through runs ranging from tranquil to totally thrilling.
ACES (Aspen Centre for Environmental studies) run free classes at their Hallam Lake location every Monday from mid-July to mid-August. Alternatively, take the gondola up Aspen Mountain for a free yoga class at 11,212ft on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10.30am.
In 2010, construction workers working near Snowmass Village stumbled upon one of the most significant fossil sites discovered in recent history. You can learn more about the creatures they uncovered, see real mastodon bones and take a picture with a giant sloth at the Discover Center in Snowmass Village Mall. Entry is free.
If the gondola up Aspen Mountain isn’t thrilling enough for you, take to the skies on a tandem paragliding flight. The scenic flights cost $250 per person but are well worth the splurge.
8. Snowmass concerts
While they’re not the obvious budget destinations, a trip to Aspen and Snowmass needn’t burn a hole in your wallet. There are plenty of free things to do – the coolest of which are the summer concerts held on the grassy slope of Fanny Hill at the top of Snowmass Village every Thursday night from mid-June to mid-August. The likes of the SteelDrivers, Lee Fields & the Expressions and Moby have all graced the stage.
9. Anderson Ranch – 5263 Owl Creek Road, Snowmass
Take the free shuttle from Aspen or Snowmass to Anderson Ranch, where you can peruse a range of artworks from resident sculptors, potters and painters, student interns and world-renowned artists. The non-profit runs workshops and summer camps for children, and has an open door policy, which means visitors can tour the site independently, for free.
If you’re looking to do something truly special, try a luxury stargazing jeep trip with The Little Nell. Guests and non-guests alike can enjoy a five-star evening of astronomy (led by talented Aspen High student Anna Kate), nibbles and champagne under the stars.