One part world-class ski destination, one part charming Colorado mountain town, Aspen is truly a must-visit location. This community of 7,200 year-round residents has an outsized selection of recreational, cultural and historical attractions.If your travel plans bring you to Aspen in the fall, you’re in for a treat. Thanks to its location in the White River National Forest and its stunning backdrop of the Elk Mountains, Aspen is a well-known destination for experiencing the fall colors — or “leaf peeping” as New Englanders call it. Check out these five great ways to spend a fall day in Aspen — all of which give you beautiful views of the changing leaves.
1. Take a gondola ride
Gondolas at Aspen’s picturesque ski resorts have become the best way to get a bird’s-eye view of the fall foliage. Your first option is the Silver Queen Gondola, which offers a 20-minute ride to the top of Aspen Mountain. At the peak, the elevation is a whopping 11,212 feet. You’ll enjoy incredible views of Aspen Highlands and the Highland Bowl, plus hiking trails and a full-service restaurant. Another great option is Snowmass’ Elk Camp Gondola, which offers breathtaking views of the Roaring Fork Valley along the way. Once you arrive at the top, a seemingly endless array of activities await, including ziplining, mountain biking and disc golf, and yard games at the Elk Camp Restaurant. Those in search of even higher vistas can hike to the top of the Elk Camp Chair for views of the Maroon Bells.
2. Visit a ghost town
Just 13 miles from Aspen, Ashcroft is a classic ghost town and a can’t-miss, both for the spooky factor and the gorgeous fall colors. At its peak in 1883, roughly 2,000 people, mainly silver prospectors, called Ashcroft home. But, within a few years, the shallow silver deposits ran out and the town was all but abandoned. Today, Ashcroft is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can explore three restored buildings and six in their original condition.
3. Go for a hike
Enjoy the crisp fall air while enjoying one of the many area hikes, from short, family-friendly walks in the woods to challenging full-day treks with huge elevation gains. Not sure where to start? Consider hiring a private naturalist guide through the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Choose from a morning, afternoon or full-day expedition. ACES guides have a wealth of stories and information about the flora and fauna of the area, as well as its history.
4. Sip a craft beer
Aspen’s only craft brewery, Aspen Brewing Company has been serving up delicious brews since 2008. While you can sample its beers at restaurants around town, the best place to try them all is at its gastropub, Aspen Tap. Located in downtown Aspen and open seven days a week, the pub has a daily happy hour, delicious lunch and dinner offerings, and an outdoor patio with great mountain views.
5. Play 18 holes
Golf is a popular pastime in Aspen — and not just because your golf ball flies farther at these high altitudes. The Roaring Fork Valley offers a variety of gorgeous golf courses, all of which boast beautiful mountain views and front-row seats to the changing leaves. The Frank Hummel-designed Aspen Golf Club is ranked as one of Golfweek Magazine’s 50 best municipal courses and the best municipal course in Colorado. Other great nearby courses include the Snowmass Club, the Ranch at Roaring Fork and River Valley Ranch.
Find your second home in Aspen
No matter the season, there’s so much to explore in Aspen that you’ll need more than a weekend. Give yourself the time you need by buying a second home in town. When you co-own a fully managed Pacaso second home, you can treat yourself to your own mountain retreat for less money and hassle.
Can’t-miss road trip stops between San Diego and Santa Barbara