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Aspen Without a Car

WE-cycle bikes and a RFTA bus
13 Jan 2022
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Photo credit: @risingsunphotog for @ridewecycle

How Do You Get Around in Aspen?

Getting around Aspen without a car isn’t a problem, so if you’re visiting our little city without a car, you’re in luck. With a robust bus and shuttle service as well as car services, bike-sharing, and pedestrian accommodations, you’ll have plenty of options for exploring our valley. You really don't need a car to get around. And not having a car allows you to bypass the very busy traffic!

Aspen definitely does things differently, and transportation options are a big plus for us. It’s one of the reasons Aspen was named one of 2021’s Top 10 Best Small Cities by Condé Nast Traveler.

Do I Need a Rental Car in Aspen?

The need for a rental car in Aspen is really up to your schedule while you're here. If your schedule is tight or lacks the wiggle room to wait for buses or walk across town, then a rental car might be necessary. There are a number of car rental options at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

If you plan on renting a car while visiting Aspen, though, be prepared to take your chances on finding parking (you’ll pay quite a bit if you even find it). There’s very little free parking available in town or at the base of the ski mountains. And, if you’re lucky enough to find a free spot, you’ll still need to move your car frequently and/or walk or WE-cycle to complete your journey! Fortunately, if you are a guest at Aspen Square, this problem is alleviated, since we provide free parking for our guests.

Are Buses in Aspen Free?

Aspen offers eight free bus routes between downtown Aspen and the airport, provided by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, nicknamed RFTA (pronounced RAF-tah). The Rubey Park transportation center is located on Durant Street across from the Silver Circle Ice Rink and just a block and a half from Aspen Square. During the winter season, you can also ride the Four Mountain Connector, which will bus you to all four ski mountains for free, seven days a week. Skiers and snowboarders headed to Ajax (Aspen Mountain) will also love the free Galena Street shuttle, with pick up/drop off at the Silver Queen Gondola.

Should you decide to venture further downvalley than Snowmass, RFTA provides affordable commuter bus service to Glenwood Springs and beyond, all the way to Rifle. Once in Glenwood, you could transfer from RFTA to the Bustang and continue your journey east to Denver! See RFTA’s website for bus schedules and routes, or download the Transit app for real-time bus status and trip suggestions.

On-Demand Downtowner Shuttle

Between 8 am and 11 pm, you can summon Aspen’s eco-friendly electric Downtowner shuttle to take you anywhere in town (including the Silver Queen Gondola). The shuttle will take you anywhere within the service area, which covers downtown Aspen and nearby neighborhoods. Download the Downtowner app, set up your pick-up and drop-off locations, and you’ll be ready to go!

Walking Around Aspen

Aspen is truly a walkable town — and walking will let you experience its full charm and unique personality. You’ll find flashing crosswalk signs to prioritize pedestrian convenience crossing busy Main Street, certain streets closed to through-traffic, and even the occasional heated sidewalk in the winter. The brick walkways of the downtown pedestrian mall provide a safe, convenient walkable haven for shopping, dining, art gazing, and people-watching.  The pedestrian mall is located in the core of downtown on Cooper and Hyman and just a block from the RFTA and WE-cycle stations at Rubey Park, making it a great launching-off point or final destination.

Bikeshare for Free with WE-cycle

For nearly two thirds of the year (with plans to expand availability), local bikeshare nonprofit WE-cycle offers free pedal- and e-bike rides of up to 30 minutes in Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, and El Jebel/Willits. While the 30-minute limit is meant to encourage other modes of transit for longer distances, you can easily link 30-minute rides together as long as you check in, then check out again at a WE-cycle station before your timer is up. A credit card is also required when creating your account to minimize the chances of bike damage and theft. During WE-cycle’s open season, you can view static station maps on the WE-cycle website, or download the free Transit app to see which stations are closest to you plus real-time bike availability at each station. 

Renting Bikes and E-Bikes in Aspen

If WE-cycle’s free 30-minutes doesn’t provide enough time for you to fully explore our bike-friendly community, consider renting a bike or e-bike from one of Aspen’s many local bike shops. With numerous bike paths, pedestrian bikeways, and scenic roads (like Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells) in and around Aspen, you won’t miss sitting in traffic at all!

The Rio Grande Trail begins in Aspen and comprises 44 miles of continuous bike path between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Along the way, you can connect to more trail networks in Woody Creek or Snowmass Village, or stop to enjoy the charming downtowns of Basalt or Carbondale.

During the summer months, RFTA outfits its buses with bike carriers, so you’ll often be able to bike in one direction and take the bus back to your starting point (after stopping for some food, of course).

Fully Experience Aspen Without a Car

If you’re thinking about visiting Aspen without a car, the convenience of staying downtown is even more valuable. Browse our available Aspen condo rentals today. Guests of the Aspen Square can rely on our concierge desk for all their ground transportation needs. We have private and public car services available for you in and around town, and for your airport transfer needs. 970-925-1000 ext. 3515