In the 1950s, Aspen became a premier ski resort and a world-class destination for people from around the globe. While still a renowned skiing destination today, it would be a mistake to only visit Aspen in the winter. The town and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley offer the perfect settings for various outdoor activities, no matter the season. Whether you are looking for adrenaline-pumping action or something a bit more leisurely, Aspen offers it all. Here are eight incredible outdoor activities you can enjoy in Aspen at any time this year.
Aspen's best wintertime activities
Aspen Mountain offers four different ski resorts with deep and powdery snow. Thanks to Colorado having an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, you'll have plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes under glorious blue skies. Aspen offers runs for beginners, but advanced skiers will appreciate the wealth of opportunities to try more advanced slopes with steeps and bumps.
Aspen offers some of the best runs for snowboarding in the world. Head up the mountain to find a variety of terrain, from vast, well-groomed trails to tree runs. Head to the steeper black and double black runs if you want to really test your speed. Amazingly, snowboarding has only been allowed on Aspen Mountain for 20 years. Before that, resorts banned it, viewing the sport as a dangerous fad. Fear not, though. Now, all four of Aspen Mountain's resorts are happy to welcome avid snowboarders.
To get away from the busy slopes and enjoy some of the world’s most stunning backcountry, strap on a pair of snowshoes. While there are great trails all around Aspen, you'll find some of the best for snowshoeing around Smuggler Mountain. The trailhead is less than a mile from downtown Aspen, making it easy to access even if you want to bring the entire family.
Outdoor activities to try in Aspen this summer
Aspen is truly a magical place for hikers. Hundreds of miles of trails around the mountain and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley each suit a vast range of abilities and stamina. If you’ve gone snowshoeing on Smugglers Mountain in the winter, consider heading back during the summer to behold some breathtaking warm-weather scenery. Or, walk about half a mile up Ute Avenue to find the Ute Mountain trailhead. It's a challenging two-mile hike, but you can take a gondola ride back down to town, which comes complete with its own stunning sights. If you fall in love with the views from Ute Mountain, there are some gorgeous homes available in the area, too.
In the warmer months, the greater Aspen area is a haven for mountain bikers. In fact, it's so pleasing that the International Mountain Bike Association named the Roaring Fork Valley a Gold Level Ride Center. You'll cruise through meadows of wildflowers and get a glimpse of the Rocky Mountain's famous wildlife along the way. There are over 300 miles of biking trails to explore, so even the most enthusiastic riders will always have someplace new to explore. If you are new to the sport but want to try it, head into one of the area's clinics that teach new riders the essential skills for handling downhill riding.
Rafting is an outdoor experience several people can enjoy together. Charter one of Aspen's many white-water rafting companies to take the whole family on an adventure. Many companies will take advantage of the rapids on the Roaring Fork River. Still, you can also set sail down the nearby Arkansas River or Glenwood Canyon to venture further afield. Rafting companies will manage everything from providing the gear to even packing a picnic lunch for the whole crew. Your dedicated guide will make sure everyone in your boat stays safe while enjoying the thrill of traveling down the rapids. If you want a real adventure, ask about traveling down the Slaughter House, class V rapids that will definitely get your heart pounding. If you want something a little easier on the nerves, check out Woody Creek.
If you'd rather travel down Aspen’s rivers as part of a smaller group, try kayaking. Kayaking is great for all ability levels. You can choose a calm pool along the river for a more relaxed experience or try your hand at navigating some of the more challenging rapids. Kayaks are widely available to rent in the summer months, but there are plenty of places where you can outright purchase kayaks if you want your own. Check out Blazing Adventures and Elk Mountain Expeditions for great kayaking locations.
The Roaring Fork River offers some of the best flyfishing in the world. With plenty of space available along the river, you can catch a wide variety of freshwater fish, including wild trout. You'll find waters home to cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout, running from Maroon Creek to Upper Woody Creek Bridge. Flyfishing allows for a great way to take in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains in a more serene fashion.