There's no question that once a visitor arrives in Aspen they will be blown away by the myriad of things going on in town. The world-class cultural events, endless dining and nightlife options, and outdoor recreation gives Aspen an urbane feel that belies its small-town charm. Nonetheless, some vacationers can grow restless and have the urge to explore the beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley. Below are our top picks for day trips from Aspen and scenic drives to enjoy during your stay:
Avalanche Ranch & Penny Hot Springs: Located just under an hour from Aspen, Avalanche Ranch provides the ideal day or weekend getaway offering hot springs, hiking, fishing, canoeing and paddleboarding. The property has a variety of cabins for guests from studios to three bedrooms. If you’re looking for something a bit more secluded, drive just 1.2 miles south of Avalanche Ranch for the Penny Hot Springs. After enjoying a soak in the springs, head to Carbondale, touted as one of the top 12 towns in the country by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.
Carbondale: In the shadows of 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris sits the beautiful town of Carbondale. Head down on Thursday nights during the summer (June 2- August 18) for the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo. Carbondale celebrates First Friday on the first Friday of the month with a celebration of the arts, shopping, dining, and music. Don’t have a car but still want to explore the nearby town? Not a problem! Grab a bike and hop on the Rio Grande Trail, a 44-mile trail from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. The continuous multi-use trail is an easy grade up and down the valley.
Glenwood Springs: Located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, Glenwood Springs includes a variety of family friendly summer activities including white water rafting on the Colorado River, exploring caverns, golfing, and relaxing in the incredibly popular Hot Springs Pool. Don’t forget to check off the hike to Hanging Lake, a beautiful hike to a serene lake filled by waterfalls within the Glenwood Canyon. Directions to this hidden gem and information on what to bring can be found online here.
Leadville: Leadville is a small town nestled at 10,152 feet with an incredible backdrop of Mount Massive. Guests can enjoy the beautiful drive over Independence Pass from Aspen to Leadville with a few picture perfect pullover stops on the way. The drive takes around an hour for first timers.
Not quite in Aspen yet? Check out this scenic driving recommendation along the way: If you're in Southwest Colorado and looking for a picturesque way to get to Aspen be sure to hit Highway 133. Dense groves of aspen trees color the roadside over McClure Pass, ominous peaks of Mount Sopris and Chair Mountain make up the panoramic views as you crest the pass and descend into the Roaring Fork Valley, and as you drive along the Crystal River you'll pass the historic town of Marble, small-town Redstone, and charming Carbondale. And, Highway 24 and 285 from Southeast Colorado will place you amidst the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the country, pass Colorado's mecca of whitewater rafting and kayaking-the Arkansas River, and run alongside some of the best trout fishing in the state. Discover additional scenic drives to enjoy from Denver to Aspen and beyond.