Off-season is a great time to visit Aspen (and Snowmass), and if you are a local it is also a fantastic time to relax a little bit after a busy summer and to truly enjoy some of the benefits of living here. Come the end of August, the Food and Wine Classic is long gone, the high-profile Aspen Institute-hosted events have passed, and the Aspen Music Festival performances have faded out, but that does not mean that the fun is all over until winter.
We could, of course, easily add to this list, but here are 5 fun things to do in Aspen in September – Edited for 2022
Snowmass Balloon Festival
Check out the Snowmass Balloon festival (September 16th through September 18th), just a few miles down the road in Snowmass Village. This annual extravaganza showcases beautiful hot air balloons coordinating and competing in several events, and just generally showing off for anyone who cares to watch.
The competitions include a race to see who can fly the farthest down the Roaring Fork valley within a set time frame, a contest to see who is the most accurate in maneuvering over targets on the ground and hitting them with weighted baggies, and a “Balloon Dance” where balloon pairs compete to see which pair can keep a flagging tape intact between them as the float along.
For its 47th edition, the balloon festival will be back to operating as usual after a couple of socially distant events over the last two years. This year, spectators are encouraged to drive in, hike up, bike around or walk right up to take in the sights right from where the balloons take flight!
Fall Color Viewing
Towards the end of September, Mother Nature puts on a show worth reveling in, as the Autumn colors pop out. This spectacular explosion of red, orange, and yellow leaves on the hillsides and in town is not to be missed and is truly one of the best parts of being in Aspen in September. We suggest taking a drive up Independence Pass, Castle Creek Road to Ashcroft, Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells, or Owl Creek Road between Aspen and Snowmass to view this magnificent scene in its full splendor!
We recommend hitting Independence Pass to view the fall colors, but also to do so much more. You can make a great day of adventure along the pass if you plan it right!
Independence Pass is considered one of the most beautiful roads to drive in the United States, if not the world. More than this, it is filled with day activities, serene lakes, trails, and areas to explore. Stop off at the Devil’s Punchbowl for a swim, and even jump into the pool at the base of the waterfall! Just after this we highly recommend wandering through The Grottos. These amazing natural ice caves are a wonder in themselves and such a great area to relax by the river! If you’re feeling very active, try hiking up to Grizzly Lake, probably our favorite lake hike in Aspen. Then take in the views at the Continental divide at the top of the Pass.
If you’re looking to view the fall colors from the comfort of your own home, then take a read through our guide to the best Vacation Rentals for Viewing Fall Colors in Aspen and Snowmass.
Elevated Entertainment on Aspen Mountain
Catch some of Colorado’s best bluegrass musicians before summer ends. Every Sunday until the end of September, Aspen Snowmass will be showcasing bluegrass bands at the top of Aspen Mountain. What a great way to spend your Sunday evening, with great views, food, drinks & live music. Tickets are free if you have already purchased a sightseeing ticket.
You can also take in the views on Aspen Mountain through other great experiences. Ending in September, Aspen Shakti hosts Yoga on the mountaintop multiple times a week. Relax your mind and body in a surreal setting overlooking the Elk Mountain Range. Afterward, reward yourself with lunch at The Sundeck. Amazing food and expansive views are available from anywhere in the restaurant.
Explore the outdoors with ACES
There is such a vast amount of explorable nature around Aspen & Snowmass and it can seem a bit daunting to go into the wild by yourself.
ACES ( Aspen Centre for Environmental Studies) has been dedicated to preserving, studying & educating people about the ecosystems that surround Aspen.
ACES has been offering guided tours, hikes, and nature education in Aspen for over 45 years. They have activities happening daily and weekly, ranging from group hikes to farm tours and even yoga! The perfect outing – exploring the endless outdoor beauty of the White River National Forrest, while learning from our local guides and naturalists. One of our favorite activities is birding at Northstar Preserve.
Lost Forest Snowmass
With Snowmass being the largest ski mountain, it only makes sense that it turns into an adventure-packed Summer escape. Hidden amongst the trees at Elk Camp on Snowmass Mountain, is the Lost Forest.
The Lost Forest contains miles of hiking and biking trails that meander across the mountain. Take a hike along one of the many creeks or even stop off and go pong fishing. Explore your wild side on the tree-line obstacle course & climbing walls. You can even take a ride through the trees on the alpine coaster. Enjoy all this & more for the perfect Summer family day out.
Bonus: Aspen Saturday Market
Catch the last weeks of the Aspen Saturday Farmer’s Market! This year the market will run until October 9th, stopping just before Aspen’s fall “off-season”. Running since 1998 the Farmer’s Market pedestrianizes Hyman and Hopkins ave in downtown Aspen and is a fantastic way to start any Saturday.
Open from 8:30 AM til 2 PM the Saturday market offers a fantastic selection of fresh Colorado produce, local artisan products, and food trucks to snack at! The market hosts vendors from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley – more information on the event and its vendors can be found here.
For more information about fun things to do in Aspen in September please visit the aspenchamber.org website, or give us a call at (970) 205-9960. You’ll also want to check out our post about the “Top 5 Things to Do in Aspen & Snowmass in The Fall.”
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