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How Many Days Should you Spend in Aspen?

Maroon Bells in the winter
3 Aug 2022
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Asking how many days you should stay in Aspen is a loaded question. The truth is, no matter how many days you stay, you’ll inevitably leave wanting more. Even valley locals have a difficult time fitting in everything they want to see and do, from day to day and season to season! Aside from its inescapable, glamorous appeal, Aspen's true attraction is that there’s something for everyone to enjoy every day, all year round.

Whether you have a weekend, a week, or more, you’ll enjoy the activities, events, restaurants and more that Aspen has to offer. Here we share our favorite can’t miss experiences for time frames of a week or less.

Spending a Week in Aspen in the Summer

Here’s what you won’t want to miss if you’re spending a few days in Aspen in the summer:

  1. Make time to drive up to Independence Pass, east and south of Aspen. It’s North America's highest paved mountain pass, and the views are breathtaking. There are numerous pullouts and hiking paths that allow you to make a full day of your exploration. Make a point of seeing the easily accessible Grotto Ice Caves, Independence Ghost Town, and North Star Nature Preserve if you’re not yet acclimated to the altitude enough for all of the hiking trails you can access along the way.
  2. Rent a bike or e-bike at one of the many bike rental shops in town, then take a spin around downtown or head down valley along the Rio Grande Trail. The historic Rio Grande Trail follows an old railroad all the way down to Glenwood Springs, and you can even hop on a bus to carry you and your bike back up valley when you’re done.
  3. Make a reservation to take the shuttle to the iconic Maroon Bells. Catching the shuttle is easy and eliminates the guesswork of parking. Moreover, it really allows you to soak in the views as your approach the twin, bell-shaped peaks. Snap your own quintessential photo at the edge of Maroon Lake, then find your own slice of paradise. Either stroll around the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail or hike up to Crater Lake (3.5 miles out and back). Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for (and keep your distance from) moose in the area!
  4. Spend a morning at the Aspen Saturday Market. From 8:30–2 on Saturdays, you’ll find the Market spread through several streets in the heart of downtown. Grab locally-grown Colorado fruits, vegetables, bread, and meats, as well as beautiful jewelry and artwork, while live music enhances the scene.
  5. Don’t miss the rotating exhibits at the Aspen Art Museum, or browsing the unique souvenirs at the AMM gift shops. When you’re done taking in the artwork on display, head upstairs to the Rooftop Cafe for a glass of wine, espresso, or tasty snack while enjoying the stunning, light-filled view.
  6. Purchase a ticket for the Silver Queen Gondola and sweep up to the 11,000-foot summit of Aspen Mountain for 360-degree views of the mountain ranges. You may choose to venture on a short hike by following one of the nearby trails. Kids will enjoy disc golf, lawn games, and other family-friendly attractions at the top.
  7. Float along the local waterways on a tube or standup paddle board. We recommend starting with the easy, flat stretch of water just outside of town at North Star Nature Preserve (also known as Stillwater). Whether you’re on your own or part of a group, this relaxing float is a must-do during your trip.
  8. And don’t miss the abundance of live entertainment in Aspen, including programs during the eight-week Aspen Music Festival and School, regular jazz concerts for JAS Café, world-class theater productions at Theatre Aspen, world-famous musical acts at the Belly Up, and varied performances at the historic Wheeler Opera House.

Spending a Week in Aspen in the Winter

Here’s what you won’t want to miss if you’re spending a few days in Aspen in the winter:

  1. Explore all four mountains. Aspen is unusual in that you can visit four world-class ski resorts within an extremely small radius. Each of the four mountains that are part of the Aspen Snowmass resort (Ajax, Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass), has its own personality, so you could spend a half-or a full day at each, soaking up the views, terrain, dining, and entertainment. Ski, snowboard, or just sit at a restaurant and enjoy the views.
  2. The Nordic trails in Aspen are free to use. Visit the Aspen Nordic Center just outside of town on Highway 82 and rent equipment (cross country skis or snowshoes), take a lesson, and get to know the local terrain. The Nordic Center frequently offers clinics, so be sure to ask for their schedule while you’re here.
  3. Get a blast of cold air in your face riding the  Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Snowmass. Sit in a tandem coaster car and enjoy the thrill of rushing down the track and banking tight corners as the woods whistle by. Along the mile-long track, you’ll accelerate to around 28 miles per hour, which is fast enough for an exciting and unforgettable ride. Ride it at night for even more of a thrill as you’ll speed through the dark with only the light of your coaster car and the moon to guide you.
  4. Take a snowcat ride into the backcountry with Aspen Powder Tours, where your personal guides will take you to open bowls, snow-covered meadows, and quiet glades around Aspen Mountain.
  5. Pay homage to John Denver at the John Denver Sanctuary along the Roaring Fork River. The music of legendary country singer, composer, and guitarist John Denver expresses his deep love for Colorado. This small open-air park near downtown Aspen is a lovely spot to stop and reflect during the snow-covered hush of winter.
  6. Go shopping. It gets cold in Aspen in the wintertime, and you may be ready for some warmth. Stroll around the pedestrian mall downtown and allow yourself to be dazzled by the understated elegance and highbrow brands. Walk right into boutiques for Prada, Chanel, and more. For a slightly more budget-friendly option, Pitkin County Dry Goods and Aspen Sports carry casual clothing that will keep you warm while emphasizing comfort.

Where to Stay While Visiting Aspen

Whether you’re in Aspen for a weekend, week, or a month, location matters. The Aspen Square is conveniently located in downtown Aspen, just across the block from the Silver Queen Gondola. Explore our downtown condo rentals and plan your next Aspen vacation.