For numerous reasons the autumn season in Aspen is like no other. The leaves begin the change and fall, and town slows down just a little as we transition through our “off-season”. There’s a quiet and calm atmosphere across the town despite all the happenings and gatherings before the snow starts to take over the outdoors. Here’s a breakdown of our top things to do in Aspen & Snowmass in the fall.
1: Dreamy Fall Hikes
As the leaves change, the Aspen trees turn into a flowing bouquet of color providing dreamy views and picturesque scenes. What better way to get amongst the trees than to explore the vast amount of hiking trails in Aspen. Aspen and Snowmass have a trail for all experiences, but no matter how easy you want to take it, you can always find world class views at the end of every hike. There are too many options to talk about them all, but you can find more info here. At this time of year, our top hike is:
The Maroon Bells overlooking Maroon Lake is one the most photogenic scenes across the United States. The world-renowned views are always incredibly popular, but our favorite time to visit is during the fall. In our opinion, just before reservations end in October is the most special time of year. With fewer crowds, the area itself is incredibly peaceful. As you venture up higher on the trails you overlook a beautiful sea of amber, crimson and gold. The hiking trails vary in difficulty and length so there is something for everyone – you can even take your bike on certain trails! An autumn day at the bells is sure to be one of the most special of the year. Stay up to date with full Maroon Bells information.
2: Ashcroft Ghost Town
Ashcroft ghost town is of the most interesting areas to visit in all of Aspen. Originally a prosperous mining town located in the Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft had a rapid rise to a wealthy and bustling town in the 1880s. It had numerous hotels, saloons and wealthy residents, and at this point in time was larger than Aspen. The town was unfortunately just as quick to collapse as the silver mines were shallow, and the residents began to move to Aspen after the prosperity. Despite some efforts to revive the area in the 1900s, Ashcroft was ultimately abandoned and now is deeded to the U.S Forest Service.
Today, there are still a few buildings remaining as a testament to the town’s past. The Aspen Historical Society allows visitors to explore the site and look into the history of this great mining town. The maintained derelict buildings with the backdrop of the fall colors on the mountains are a sight to behold. Visiting Ashcroft provides a wonderful window into Colorado’s past and an idyllic vintage mountain scene. The area is also host to some amazing hiking trails and riverside pastures. Be sure to stop off for some food at The Pine Creek Cookhouse after your day of adventuring.
3: Aspen FilmFest
With all the beauty and adventure that surrounds Aspen in the fall, it may be a surprise to recommend an indoor event, however, the Aspen FilmFest is one of Aspen’s unmissable events. The annual festival is held at Wheeler Opera House every September, and in its 42nd year, is creating as much as a buzz as ever. Showcasing top films from around the world, the esteemed FilmFest attracts experts and casual watchers alike. It’s always such an electric week in Aspen, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store. This year, it runs from the 21st to the 26th of September in venues including The Wheeler Opera House and Metropolitan’s Isis Theatre as well as the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.
Full information and program can be found here
4: Golfing In The Valley
One of the most popular pastimes in the valley, the Roaring Fork Valley offers an amazing variation of fine golf courses. Although the ball flies further at altitude, it’s not the only reason we love golfing in Aspen. Hitting the course with a jaw-dropping backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is an amazing experience. Combine this with the vibrant fall leaves and you find yourself playing in some of the most beautiful surroundings any golfer will experience. It’ll even make you forget how your game is going. From public courses to private clubs, Aspen and its surroundings have a wide selection of courses – there’s even mini-golf in the center of town. Here are some of our favorites:
Aspen Golf Club
The closest course to downtown Aspen, is the public Aspen Golf Course. A challenging 18-hole course with stunning panoramic views of Aspen’s ski mountains. Great membership offers and affordable green fees, for a fantastic and wonderfully maintained course.
Ironbridge Golf Club
Located thirty minutes down valley from Aspen, just outside of Carbondale. Famed for it’s back nine which runs through vast canyons and with fairways facing Mt.Sopris.
Ranch at Roaring Fork
Nine-hole course located just outside of Carbondale down valley. This par-27 is an ideal alternative option for some casual golf or family-time that doesn’t take up the whole day.
5: Get On The Mountains
Before summer officially ends and the mountains close to prepare for winter, Aspen & Snowmass mountains offer some great activities and mountain-top adventures. Gondola’s will still operate on both mountains every weekend until October 6th. Multiple ticket options are available for the Silver Queen & Elk Camp Gondola’s. If you’re feeling fit, gondola rides are free on the way down if you hike to the top!
Not only can you get amazing panoramic views of the ever-changing leaves this fall, but there is so much to explore on either mountain. Snowmass offers some of the most incredible biking trails in all of Pitkin County as well as being the home of the Lost Forest & Adventure Park. Atop of Aspen Mountain is the Sundeck where not only do they offer great dining options, but there is also mountain top yoga & a disc golf course!
More to do!
Looking for even more to do? Check out or favorite September activities or even have a browse through our best rentals for viewing the fall leaves!