15 of the Best Things to do In Aspen in the Summer
As the premier local vacation rentals specialists, we are often asked, “What is there to do in Aspen in the summer?”
If you’ve been to the Roaring Fork Valley before, you have probably already enjoyed many of the popular activities the area has to offer. You have surely experienced the amazing local sightseeing, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, concerts, and other live entertainment. And you’ve probably treated yourself to fine dining and shopping at some of the well-known Aspen and Snowmass retail stores and charming boutiques.
But since there’s so much to see and do here, we thought we you’d appreciate a comprehensive guide. If you are looking for a new adventure or something different to add to your experience on your next visit, read this guide to explore 15 of the best things to do in Aspen in the summer!
1. Take A Trip To The Maroon Bells
Just a short and beautiful drive up Maroon Creek Road near Aspen, located in White River National Forest, you will find yourself in a glacial valley staring up towards the Maroon Bells, offering some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado and the world.
Several hiking trails wind through a mountain landscape like you’ve never seen before. Amongst the lakes, wildflowers and endless groves of Aspen Trees, you will be surrounded by the best parts of nature that the Rocky Mountains have to offer.
Pack your picnic basket, fishing pole, and camera, or just slap on some sunscreen and take in the views of the most photographed place in all of Colorado. With a free bus running frequently there is no reason not to go witness the true beauty of the Maroon Bells.
2. Go On A Culinary Adventure
With restaurants seemingly lining every block, make sure you have room in your itinerary for experiencing some of Aspen’s most exquisite cuisine. Whether you join the locals at their favorite watering hole over at the Red Onion or enjoy the Forbes five-star dining at Element 47 located in the Little Nell hotel, there is food for everyone in this small town.
Some more of our other favorite local eats:
3. The Stew Pot (Snowmass)
4. White House Tavern
5. Pine Creek Cook House
7. Mawa’s Kitchen (ABC)
8. Casa Tua
9. Hickory House
10. Il Poggio (Snowmass)
11. Su Casa
12. Bangkok Happy Bowl
13. Spring Café
15. Mi Chola
Feeling thirsty? No problem. In this little place called Aspen, you can find the beer flowing like wine at Aspen Tap and Hops Culture, or experience great local spirits at the nearby Woody Creek Distillery just down the road in Basalt.
3. Check Out The Aspen Farmers Market –Saturdays
Smell that Kettle Corn? Follow this aroma right to the heart of downtown Aspen from 8:30 AM – 3 PM to find the Aspen Farmers Market.
Here you can find locally grown Colorado fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, and a whole lot more while you listen to live music and browse the beautiful jewelry and artwork.
Nestled in the core of downtown Aspen, this farmers market is the perfect place to let your children explore freely, walk the dog while getting some retail therapy, or even just find that refreshing new trendy drink to enjoy after your morning hike.
A true favorite of both locals and visitors alike, the Saturday Market runs from mid-June until early October annually.
4. Discover Our World Class Hiking Trails
Yes, Aspen is a ski town, and a dang good one at that… BUT have you seen these hiking trails??? The hiking trails that this small mountain town has to offer are limitless.
Whether you are trying to catch your breath between switchbacks along the Ute Trail or enjoying conversation with friends while going up Smuggler Trail, there is a hike for everyone in this beautiful valley.
For a more casual hike, we suggest The Rio Grande Trail, which follows the Roaring Fork River for a beautiful setting, stretching all the way to Glenwood Springs. Additionally, make your way out to Snowmass Village and follow the Ditch Trail as this casual hike will remain flat, winding along a small creek and taking you underneath the Campground ski runs on Snowmass Mountain, where it ultimately leads you to a gorgeous view of Mt Daly.
For an intermediate hike, we suggest Smuggler Trail. This hike will take you past the historic Smuggler Mine, from which the largest silver nugget ever mined in the United States was extracted (we also suggest a tour of the Smuggler Mine, itself). Also, don’t miss the South Rim trail in Snowmass (bike or hike) and find yourself at Spiral Point, where there sits a large Yin Yang for everyone to enjoy in their own way.
Now for you experts… there is no shortage of hikes here for you. For a hike you can walk to from downtown Aspen, we suggest the Ute Trail. Follow the steep switchbacks for about 30-40 minutes before you arrive atop a rock cliff overlooking all of Aspen, Independence Pass, and all the way down to near basalt. And if you’re feeling ambitious, continue to follow the trail for another hour or two to the top of Aspen Mountain before downloading on the Silver Queen Gondola. There are also a variety of lake trails (some of which are highlighted below) that we highly recommend. Many of these lake trails consist of a longer hike, which is perfect for those hoping to spend a day in the beautiful Aspen wilderness.
Some of our other favorite hikes:
1. Cathedral Lake
2. Sunnyside Trail
3. Government Trail
4. Difficult Creek Trail
5. American Lake
6. Grizzly Lake Trail
7. Aspen to Crested Butte
8. Maroon Lake & Snowmass Lake
9. Hanging Lake
10. Hunter Creek Trail
5. Ride The Silver Queen Gondola
Just because the winter is over doesn’t mean it’s time to shut down the Gondola! The Silver Queen Gondola is one of the more popular Aspen summertime activities, providing breathtaking views of the town and beyond as it takes you to endless activities located at the top of the mountain.
Open from 10 AM – 4 PM, get carried away into the sky at 12,000 feet for a day full of beautiful vistas and endless things to see and do.
At the top, you can take a load off and enjoy lunch at the Sundeck, with lawn games, plenty of free activities for children, disc golf, Bluegrass Sundays, and even yoga and meditation.
Sightseeing Packages (valid 3 of 7 days), Summer One Ride Sightseeing tickets, and Summer Sightseeing Packages are available for purchase over the phone at: 1-877-AT-ASPEN (877-282-7736) or in person at Ticket Office.
6. Soak In The Free Snowmass Thursday Night Concerts
This summer, head to Snowmass Village every Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 for a free concert series. Make sure to bring your picnic basket and blanket, and sit on the ski slope to enjoy a variety of music from many touring bands.
Kids can’t sit still during a concert? No problem. Let your kids enjoy the Family FunZone, which includes a bouncy house, face painting, hula hooping, and more.
Food and drinks are sold on site, and since it is located right of the Snowmass Mall and just above Base Village, there is a variety of great restaurants to grab a bite at before, during, or after the concert.
Here are some more suggestions for eats while in Snowmass:
2. The Stew Pot
3. State 38
5. The Ranger Station
6. Il Poggio
7. Basecamp Bar & Grill
8. Slow Groovin BBQ
9. Tasters Pizza
7. Find Your Favorite Celebrities Strolling Town
Aspen Colorado has been a longtime favorite destination for celebrities around the world to get away to, with guests including the Kardashians, LeBron James, Elton John, Gigi Hadid, and many more.
This makes the people watching during the summer all the more entertaining since you never know which star may be about to emerge around every corner. While many stars may be as elusive as they can while in Aspen, we have a couple local celebrities you should get to know and look out for this summer as well!
If you are a sports fan, attended Winter X-Games, and/or watched the Previous 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, you may already be familiar with Alex Ferreira. At the age of 24, Alex has already brought home a Silver Medal from the 2018 Olympics in Half Pipe, while adding an additional five medals at Winter X-Games. Growing up in Aspen, Alex was exposed to all things outdoors and was on skis before he could barely walk. He quickly began winning local competitions, and he has gone on to reach celebrity status both in his hometown and throughout skiing culture.
Alex stays extensively involved in the local community, serving as an ambassador, coach, and role model for all that know him. Look out for Alex this summer, and let his infectious personality impact you like it has impacted the local community!
8. Go Floating Or Paddleboarding On the Roaring Fork
If you’re looking for a way to escape the summer heat or simply enjoy some relaxation on the water, look no further than our local rivers for some great paddleboarding, rafting, and floating.
While Aspen is known for world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking and biking in the summer, standup paddleboarding (SUP), has become the latest local outdoor summer craze.
Paddleboarding on the local rivers varies from floating the relatively easy, flat stretches of water found just outside of town at the North Star Nature Preserve (also known as Stillwater), or taking on the slightly more challenging small rapids of the lower Roaring Fork near Carbondale, to challenging the adrenaline pumping rapids of the Colorado River in and around nearby Glenwood Springs.
For minimal effort, you can head to the North Star Nature Preserve (Stillwater) and throw some tubes in the water, maybe even tie a group of tubes together, and enjoy a relaxing float.
If you are looking for more of an adrenaline rush, try out some white water rafting down the Roaring Fork or Colorado River! With guided trips going out every day throughout the summer this is a must-do, and very kid friendly!
For more details, please visit the following websites:
If you would rather get your kicks on mountain inclines instead, try ATV riding nearby Marble, as you drive a loop around Sheep Mountain. You may find ATV rental information on the Aspen Bike Tours and Rentals website: https://www.aspenbikes.com/rzr.
9. Immerse Yourself In The Lost Forest Adventure Park
The best-kept secret of Snowmass Village is no longer considered such a secret with the addition of the new Lost Forest.
Tucked amongst the trees at Elk Camp on Snowmass are an alpine coaster, zip lines, biking trails, climbing wall, and a ropes challenge course. Additionally, you can find two disc golf courses, ponds to fish in, and a variety of creeks to hike along, as well as available guides to help make sure you have the perfect adventure.
With the Elk Camp Restaurant right there, you can sit down to enjoy a meal or drink at any point while being surrounded by unbeatable views. Lost Forest is absolutely one of the best things to do in Snowmass in the summer, so make sure to get out to Snowmass during your time here to find your next memorable adventure in the Lost Forest.
10. Explore Independence Pass
Sitting at an elevation of 12,095’ with unrivaled beauty is Independence Pass. Just follow CO-82 east out of Aspen and continue up the narrow and windy road to access some of Aspen’s most fantastic views and activities.
Here you will find activities ranging from camping, sightseeing, hiking, biking, swimming, and more. As you drive…or bike up this beautiful pass you will notice a plethora of areas to pull off and take photos, or simply take in some spectacular views.
If you are hoping to find a local favorite activity, and a great way to beat the summer heat, step your way out onto the rock edge at Devils Punch Bowl and make the leap into the icy water! There are several different points to jump off of. And the crystal clear water that awaits below makes it even more fun to jump into. Beware of the time of season you jump, though, as water levels may dictate safety.
Next, we would recommend checking out the Grottos Trail and the Grottos Ice Cave. Just punch it into Google Maps, and it will lead you right to the parking lot. Then, take the short walk to the makeshift stairs visitors use to crawl in and out of the caves themselves. The patterns along the walls of the cave are nothing short of spectacular, and the caves really provide for a unique experience.
If you are looking for a camping spot, look no further than Weller Campground, Difficult Campground, Lincoln Gulch Campground, and Lost Man Campground. If you make it all the way over to the other side of the pass, you can explore Twin Peaks Campground.
The drive up Independence Pass this summer is a MUST, with endless activities for all ages it is easily one of the most spectacular places you will visit this summer!
11. Enjoy The Many Biking Trails Aspen And Snowmass Have To Offer
Here in Aspen, there is a bike trail for anyone and everyone. Whether you are looking to just take a casual cruise, get your heart racing with a steep incline, or score your adrenaline fix, Aspen and Snowmass offer a variety of trails to choose from.
For those looking for that casual ride, we recommend making your way to The Rio Grande Trail. Here you will enjoy a tame ride along the Roaring Fork River, which you can follow all the way down to Glenwood Springs. We highly recommend making a stop for lunch along the way at the Woody Creek Tavern.
For those looking for a more challenging uphill ride, boy does Aspen have some trials for you! First, check out Sky Mountain Park for 5.3 miles of uphill and downhill terrain with views of Snowmass, Aspen, and the Airport. Once at the top, we recommend Airline and Deadline for the best descents. We also recommend the Rim Trail for those of you hoping to get your uphill climb in. This ride will offer a climb of almost 2,000 feet and will provide for great views of all of Snowmass. You can also enjoy a great ride down the trail as well, ultimately completing the full loop.
Finally, for you adrenaline junkies looking for just the downhill mountain biking experience, look no further than Snowmass Bike Park. From the top of the Elk Camp Lift all the way down to base village, almost 3,000 vertical feet of purpose-built downhill trails will lead you through a technical and fun adventure down Snowmass Mountain.
12. Get A Thrill Paragliding Above Aspen and Snowmass
You can see the kites soaring through the sky as you drive east into Aspen past Marolt Open Space.
You may think this is only for professionals, but you are mistaken. Now is your chance to strap in with one of these professionals and soar more than 3,000 feet over Aspen with the freedom of a bird.
When looking for something exhilarating to do in Aspen in this summer, direct your eyes to the sky and fly high with Aspen Paragliding.
Their USHPA certified pilots have years of experience with flying, teaching, and competition. And, they can assist you with “…professional tandem instruction, certification, mountain & thermal soaring clinics, glider inspection & repair, accessory installation and international adventure travel excursions…”
For More information on Introductory Tandem Flights and their other services, or just to take a peek at what you can look forward to if you take to the skies, visit: aspenparagliding.com
13. Tear Up The Dance Floor
While Aspen is known for its abundance of year-round outdoor activities, there is a lighter side to Aspen often experienced at a variety of music venues, clubs, and bars.
First, we highly recommend making your way to the Aspen Music Festival & School’s Benedict Music Tent between late June and Late August to experience a classical music setting like no other.
Next, located just a block from the base of Aspen Mountain, tucked downstairs, is the Belly Up. This is a must-see venue, with high-grossing artists such as Jimmy Buffet, John Legend, Snoop Dog, Skrillex, The Chainsmokers, Norah Jones, and many more. Listed by Rolling Stones Magazine as one of the “Best Clubs in America”, this 450 capacity venue will provide for one of the most intimate and unique music experiences you’ve ever had.
Finally, Aspen has many noteworthy nightclubs and bars worth checking out! With a location in LA and Aspen, Bootsy Bellows Aspen is a great place to experience an upscale club with an intimate feel. Located on Hopkins Ave. in the heart of downtown, Bootsy’s (as the locals refer to it) will keep you dancing until at least 2 AM.
Some of our other favorite dance floors:
2. 7908 Aspen
3. Limelight Aspen/Snowmass
4. Eric’s Bar (Substitute dance floor for a cigar bar, pool, and shuffleboard
14. Have An Old West Adventure At The Snowmass Rodeo Or Try Some Local Horseback Riding
This tradition of nearly half a century is a must see every summer in Snowmass Village. Located just off Brush Creek Road, you will come across the wild and woolly Snowmass Rodeo taking place every Wednesday evening running from mid-June Through Late August.
They feature a BBQ beginning at 5 PM, with the Rodeo beginning at 7 PM.
This is a great event to enjoy with your kids or friends while you take in the amazing views of Snowmass. Events here include bull riding, saddle bronc, team roping, and barrel racing. During the rodeo, there are also several events that kids can part-take in, such as Mutton Busting and the Calf Scramble, with the opportunity to win fun prizes!
To complete the evening, enjoy a fun-filled campfire sing-along, as well as a marshmallow roast, to complete an authentic western experience.
While you have those cowboy boots on, we also recommend taking advantage of some local horseback riding!
There are plenty of local guides and outfitters waiting to take you on an adventure through the beautiful mountain valleys, and here are some of our recommendations:
* Aspen Wilderness Outfitters
* Capitol Peak Outfitters
* T Lazy 7 Guest Ranch and Maroon Bells Guides
15. Renew Your Mind, Body, And Spirit
While there is so much to do in Aspen, it becomes easy to forget about the activities that focus on renewing the mind, body, and spirit. That’s why we wanted to provide you with some great ideas:
1. Aspen Ideas Festival: Attend discussions and presentations from global leaders from many disciplines about the ideas and issues that “shape our lives and challenge our times.” Hosted by the Aspen Institute, one of the nation’s most renowned educational and policy studies organizations, the festival features some 350 presenters, 200 sessions, and 3,000 attendees. Please visit Aspenideas.org for more information
2. 02 Aspen: Here you will find Yoga, Pilates, 02 Oxygen bar, and plenty of healthy eating options.
3. Reméde Spa: For those looking for the classic spa pampering, we recommend heading over to the St Regis hotel for an appointment at Reméde Spa. With a variety of customized treatments, champagne, truffles, and more, this is the perfect way to be pampered after a fun-filled day!
Bonus Activities – Even More Things To Do In Aspen In The Summer
We’ve already given you a ton of options for what to do in Aspen in the summer. But if you’re looking for even more, here are a few other Aspen summer activities to round out your bucket list: