Aspen, located in the heart of the Colorado mountains, is renowned as a world-class winter resort. But as the snow melts and the summer sun bathes the Rocky Mountains, a transformation takes place.
The white winter wonderland rebirths into a vibrant place between June and August, bustling with life, adventure, and a myriad of things to do in Aspen in the summer.
Summer in Aspen might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Colorado mountain region. Despite that, it presents an enchanting landscape teeming with alpine meadows, sparkling rivers, and wildlife that’s as varied as it is beautiful.
From casual strolls in serene trails to adrenaline-pumping outdoor pursuits, there are almost endless opportunities to embrace nature’s bounty.
But Aspen isn’t just for outdoor enthusiasts. Its culinary delights, cultural offerings, and unique events appeal to every kind of traveler; all this creates a multifaceted vacation destination that’s worth exploring in the warmth of summer.
So, when the ski lifts stop operating and the last snowflake has melted, Aspen refuses to hibernate. It invites you to experience its other side – one that is equally stunning, full of life, and just waiting to be discovered.
Things To Do in Aspen in The Summer
The real charm of Aspen lies not just in its snow-covered slopes, but in the diverse experiences it offers year-round. Read on to explore the magic of summer in Aspen.
1. Hiking Trails of Maroon Bells
Exploring the Maroon Bells should be at the top of your list when considering visiting Aspen over the summer. This mountain area is considered one of the most photographed landscapes in Colorado, if not the United States.
The hiking trails cater to all fitness levels, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not an experienced hiker. The Scenic Loop trail is an easy 1.9-mile walk that allows you to take in the stunning scenery at a leisurely pace. The Crater Lake trail, on the other hand, is a bit more challenging but equally rewarding.
It’s also worth mentioning the area’s biodiversity. As you hike, keep an eye out for wildflowers and wildlife. As the trails wind through scenic landscapes, each step takes you closer to nature’s splendor.
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2. Bike Ride Down Rio Grande Trail
The Rio Grande Trail provides a unique way to experience the beauty of Aspen. Stretching for 42 miles, the trail follows the Roaring Fork River and offers splendid vistas at every turn.
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just looking for a leisurely ride, the trail caters to all. Meandering through the landscape, the pathway leads you past rustic bridges, open meadows, and stunning mountain scenery.
Bike rentals are conveniently available at various locations in Aspen, offering options for all ages and skill levels. With the wind in your hair and the serene beauty around, a bike ride down the Rio Grande Trail is a quintessential summer experience in Aspen.
3. Savor Aspen’s Culinary Delights
Aspen’s culinary scene is as diverse as its landscapes. Whether you’re a foodie in search of fine dining or someone seeking comfort food, the city’s restaurants have something to please every palate.
Don’t miss the chance to indulge in farm-to-table delights, where locally sourced ingredients meet innovative culinary creativity. Outdoor dining options also abound, allowing you to savor your meal amid the beautiful surroundings.
From cozy cafés to high-end restaurants, Aspen’s culinary scene invites you to embark on a gastronomic journey that is as much a part of the Aspen experience as its outdoor pursuits.
4. Silver Queen Gondola Ride
When it comes to Aspen’s must-do summer activities, the Silver Queen Gondola ride stands out. This popular attraction takes passengers from the town’s bustling heart, up to the top of Aspen Mountain.
As you ascend, you are treated to an increasingly expansive view of the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery.
Once at the summit, 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) above sea level, you’ll find much more than just panoramic views. The mountain top is a hub of outdoor activities.
Hiking trails crisscross the landscape, and outdoor enthusiasts can explore Aspen’s natural beauty at their own pace.
Also, every weekend during summer, there is Yoga on the Mountain classes (more on this below). And for families, the top of the mountain has a play deck with games and activities.
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5. Visit the John Denver Sanctuary
The John Denver Sanctuary is a gem hidden in the heart of Aspen. This tranquil haven is a fitting tribute to the late singer-songwriter, who called Aspen home.
The sanctuary is an ideal place to take a break from a busy day’s activities. The calming ambiance of the sanctuary, combined with its beautiful rock gardens, makes it an ideal spot to relax and even have a picnic.
The sanctuary also hosts summer concerts on occasion, providing music lovers with an exceptional experience. Visiting the John Denver Sanctuary is a great way to immerse oneself in the local culture and history of Aspen.
6. Music Festivals of Aspen
Aspen’s music scene comes alive in the summer, with festivals celebrating everything from classical music to jazz and bluegrass. The Aspen Music Festival and School, a premier classical music event, attracts artists and audiences from around the globe.
These outdoor concerts provide the perfect backdrop to a balmy summer evening. You get to enjoy an array of music styles while surrounded by the natural beauty of Aspen. Make sure to check out the concert schedules in advance and reserve your tickets.
Music isn’t just a pastime in Aspen. It’s part of the culture, a summer tradition that adds to the vibrancy of the city.
In summer 2023, the Aspen Music Festival will run from June 29th to August 20th. Some of this year’s highlights include:
- June 30th: Chamber Symphony: Beethoven’s “Pastoral,” Joyce Yang
- July 5th: Recital: Anton Nel Celebrates 25 Years in Aspen
- July 7th: Chamber Symphony: Maxim Vengerov Plays Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
- July 10th: Special Event: Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-Winning Master Class
- July 14th: Chamber Symphony: Spano Conducts Beethoven’s “Emperor”
- July 24th: Recital: Angel Blue soprano and Myra Huang piano
- August 3rd: Special Event: Broadway Star Audra McDonald with Orchestra
- August 13th: Festival Orchestra: French Romantics Debussy and Chausson
- August 15th: Special Event: Emerson String Quartet: The Aspen Farewell Concert
- August 20th: Festival Orchestra: Final Sunday! Haydn’s Creation
7. Whitewater Rafting in the Roaring Fork River
If you’re up for a bit of adrenaline, whitewater rafting on the Roaring Fork River should be on your Aspen summer bucket list. The river offers a range of rapids, catering to both beginners and experienced rafters.
Equipped with safety gear and guided by professional rafting guides, you’ll navigate thrilling whitewater rapids, all while surrounded by Aspen’s picturesque scenery.
This is not only an exciting activity but also a unique way to explore the landscape.
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8. Aspen Art Museum
The Aspen Art Museum showcases contemporary art from around the world, offering an enriching cultural experience. The museum’s architecture is a work of art in itself, and the exhibits inside continue to push creative boundaries.
While the museum is home to an impressive collection of works, it also hosts workshops, talks, and events. No matter if you’re a casual observer or an art enthusiast, the Aspen Art Museum offers an intriguing and immersive experience.
9. Aspen Saturday Market
An Aspen summer trip isn’t complete without a visit to the Aspen Saturday Market. This vibrant local market is where the community comes together to sell fresh produce, handcrafted goods, and other local treasures.
Roaming the market provides a unique chance to engage with local farmers and artisans, sample homegrown fruits and homemade treats, and find a special souvenir or gift.
A morning at the Aspen Saturday Market is a delightful way to engage with the local culture while supporting the local economy.
10. Yoga at the Top of Aspen Mountain
Yoga enthusiasts visiting Aspen during the summer have a unique opportunity to elevate their practice – quite literally. A yoga class on top of Aspen Mountain is a fantastic experience.
The gondola ride up the mountain is an adventure in itself. Once at the top, the yoga class takes place amidst the breathtaking scenery. With the stunning Colorado mountain ranges as your backdrop, you’ll find it easy to draw deep, calming breaths.
This high-altitude experience offers a unique blend of tranquility, rejuvenation, and awe-inspiring views. It’s an excellent way to start your day or to unwind after an active day outdoors.
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11. Horseback Riding in the Wild West
Immerse yourself in Aspen’s rich Western heritage with a unique horseback riding experience. Perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, you’ll have a unique perspective on Aspen’s rugged landscapes.
Aspen’s scenic trails are perfect for horseback exploration. You can choose from a variety of rides, ranging from tranquil forest trails to more challenging mountain paths.
Experienced guides ensure your safety while providing insightful knowledge about the area’s flora, fauna, and history. Regardless of your riding skills – novice or expert – there’s a trail and a horse waiting to take you on an unforgettable Wild West adventure.
12. Sunset at Independence Pass
Another great experience in Aspen from June to August is witnessing a sunset at Independence Pass. As one of Colorado’s highest paved passes, Independence Pass offers phenomenal views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
During the day, the pass is a popular spot for hiking and sightseeing, offering breathtaking vistas of the Rockies. As evening approaches, the atmosphere shifts.
Taking in the sunset from Independence Pass is more than just a photographic opportunity: it’s a moment of awe and appreciation for nature’s grandeur. Remember to pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and prepare yourself for a magical Aspen evening.
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13. Aspen Food & Wine Classic
Culinary enthusiasts will not want to miss the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. Known as one of the country’s premier culinary events, it brings together world-renowned chefs, sommeliers, and food and wine enthusiasts in a grand celebration of gastronomy.
Throughout the weekend-long festival, attendees can participate in a variety of activities. There are cooking demonstrations where top chefs share their secrets, wine tastings led by expert sommeliers, and panel discussions on current culinary trends.
In addition to the main events, the festival also features grand tastings, where attendees can sample a vast array of dishes from top chefs and wines from vineyards around the world.
The Aspen Food & Wine Classic offers a fantastic opportunity to savor exceptional cuisine, learn from the best in the business, and indulge in the finest wines.
Aspen in Summer: Conclusion
While images of Aspen are deeply linked to the winter season, it’s during summer that the area displays its real beauty.
From June to August, Aspen continues to drive a large number of tourists to its streets and surrounding mountains to experience the best that nature has to offer in this part of Colorado.
Aspen summers offer so much more than meets the eye. So why wait?