How to get the most out of a summer trip to Aspen? Live like a local.
Explore Aspen and Snowmass Village with these best kept locals’ secrets and favourite spots. From secret rooftop bars to tourist-free hiking trails, dive deeper into what these iconic Rocky Mountain towns have to offer.
Read on for a host of sites, secret spots and activities frequented by locals.
Visit one of Colorado’s longest running rodeos: Every Wednesday evening during June, July and August, visitors can head to the Snowmass Rodeo for an evening of entertainment at one of Colorado’s longest running rodeo. This authentic western event welcomes tourists to enjoy a BBQ dinner, watch live demonstrations and competitions like saddle bronc, ending the night with live music and a roaring bonfire.
Experience the tranquil John Denver Sanctuary: Situated next to Rio Grande Park in the heart of Aspen, the John Denver Sanctuary is a peaceful oasis where you can connect with both nature and music. The Song Garden features a series of native river boulders placed in a perfect circle, all with lyrics etched into the stone to reflect the circle of life. Also to be explored in the sanctuary is one of the largest perennial flower gardens as well as man-made wetlands and winding streams.
Listen to local bands at the Snowmass Free Concert Series: A long-standing summer tradition, the Snowmass Free Concert Series takes place every Thursday evening from 15 June to 24 August. It takes place on Fanny Hill at the end of the Snowmass Mall. Bring a picnic or head to one of the many Snowmass restaurants in Base Village.
Experience the Aspen Music Festival with free concerts and music master classes: Founded in 1949, The Aspen Music Festival is viewed as one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in the country, famous for its concert programming and musical training programs. Lasting just over eight weeks, the festival includes over 400 classical music events, opera performances, master classes and lectures bringing in over 100,000 audience members. 29 June – 20 August.
Browse a local thrift store: A destination frequented by the rich and famous, it’s no surprise that the local thrift stores are full of designer bargains. There are several in the heart of town, including the Aspen Thrift Shop where they sell everything from celebrities’ old clothes and local artwork to ski boots and snowboards. Susie’s and The Little Bird are also known for their vintage and designer finds.
Hike the Ute Trail: For experienced hikers seeking a challenge, Ute Trail is the perfect choice. Popular with locals due to its spectacular scenery, the trail starts close to town on Ute Avenue, providing a steady uphill climb in 0.9 miles of 1,000 vertical feet, offering far reaching views of Aspen and beyond. There is a free gondola ride down for those who hike to the top of Aspen Mountain and want to walk down, adding another five miles to the route.
Cycle to the Woody Creek Tavern on the Rio Grande Trail: The Rio Grande Trail is a gently sloping, mostly paved surface that runs 40 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, completely protected from vehicular traffic. This rails-to-trails project has countless stops along the way for a scenic picnic and eight miles outside of town, bikers can stop into the Woody Creek Tavern for its famous margaritas and nachos and enchiladas.
Explore the Independence Pass on foot: At 12,095 feet above sea level, the summit of the Independence Pass, part of Colorado’s State Highway 82, passes over the Continental Divide between Aspen and Leadville. Typically enjoyed by car, the 32-mile-long route offers incredible views and picturesque winding roads lined with aspen trees. Explore a range of hiking trails off the pass where visitors can discover cascading waterfalls, rock formations, ice caves and alpine meadows.
Horseback riding at the T-Lazy-7 Ranch: Experience Aspen on horseback with a range of rides at T-Lazy 7-Ranch. The ranch offers relaxing one- and two-hour rides through fields of wildflowers and thick aspen forests as well as private and off the beaten path rides through the Maroon Bells wilderness with a night spent sleeping under the stars.
Explore the Snowmass Bike Park: The epicentre of biking culture in Colorado, Aspen and Snowmass are perfect for every biking ability level. A local’s favorite and the first Gold-Level IMBA ride centre in Colorado, Snowmass Bike Park features 25 miles of pristinely maintained downhill trails extending almost 3,000 vertical feet, from beginner-friendly single track to adrenaline-inducing downhill. Situated at the top of Elk Camp Chairlift all the way down to Snowmass Base Village, it is open daily from 21 June – 4 September.
Food and Drink
Dine mountainside at the Ajax Tavern: One of the most popular mountainside dining spots for locals, Ajax Tavern is located in the five-star, five-diamond Little Nell Hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain, renowned for its signature Ajax Wagyu double cheeseburger and truffle fries. During the summer months, catch a mountainside movie on the outdoor patio.
Il Poggio, Snowmass Village: Local’s favorite, II Poggio, is a traditional Italian restaurant that attracts locals from around the Roaring Fork Valley with its cosy atmosphere and authentic food. Tables fill up quickly with people trying to get a taste of their famous sweet potato ravioli and veal/truffle gnocchi.
Aspen Saturday Market: Taking place every Saturday morning from 8.30am until 2pm, the Aspen Saturday Market brings together local vendors from Aspen and the surrounding areas who sell locally grown produce and artisan products. Since 1998, the market has been loved by locals who can enjoy a leisurely stroll through town whilst browsing a wealth of Colorado grown goods.
Travel Mole I June 9, 2023