a snowy street with people walking down it

13 Things to Know Before Traveling to Aspen

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Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen is a place where luxury meets the great outdoors. It’s a town that seamlessly blends high-end living with the down-to-earth spirit of mountain life.

Whether you’re here to hit the slopes, enjoy the music festivals, or just soak in the natural beauty, there’s something magical about Aspen that keeps people coming back.

In this blog post, I’m going to share some essential tips and insights that I’ve gathered through extensive research and personal experiences. From navigating the town’s dynamic weather to choosing the perfect place to stay, I’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive into what you need to know to make your Aspen adventure unforgettable!

people walking on snow covered ground near building during night time, Aspen, Colorado

Things to know before traveling to Aspen:

red and white cable car under blue sky during daytime, Aspen, Colorado

Aspen sits at a high altitude

Aspen’s high altitude is a big deal, especially if you’re not used to it. We’re talking almost 8,000 feet above sea level!

This means the air is thinner, and you might feel a bit out of breath more easily than usual. It’s super common for visitors to experience some form of altitude sickness. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, or just feeling a bit off.

But hey, don’t let this scare you! Your body usually adjusts after a day or two.

The key is to take it slow at first. Drink plenty of water, maybe more than you think you need, to stay hydrated.

Also, ease into physical activities. No need to sprint up a hiking trail as soon as you arrive. Give your body time to acclimate to Aspen’s lofty heights.

Weather can be unpredictable

When you’re packing for Aspen, think of layers, layers, and more layers. The weather here can flip like a coin – sunny one minute, snowing the next. Seriously, it’s like Mother Nature just can’t make up her mind! This is especially true if you’re visiting in the spring or fall.

So, what’s the game plan? Pack for all seasons. A sunny morning can turn into a chilly evening really quickly. You’ll want a warm jacket, even in summer, and don’t forget a raincoat. Those unexpected showers can catch you off guard.

And here’s a pro tip: invest in a good pair of sunglasses. With Aspen’s high altitude, the sun can be surprisingly intense, even when it’s cold. So, whether you’re hitting the slopes or just exploring the town, your eyes will thank you.

person in red jacket and blue pants riding ski blades on snow covered ground during daytime, Aspen, Colorado

The peak ski season is from December to February

Alright, let’s talk about hitting the slopes in Aspen. The peak ski season here runs from December to February. This is when Aspen is ready for Christmas, the snow is just perfect – fluffy and plentiful, making it a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders.

But here’s the thing: it’s also when Aspen is at its busiest. Think crowded slopes and bustling après-ski scenes. If you’re all about that vibrant energy and don’t mind sharing the mountain, this is your time. Just remember, with popularity comes higher prices – for everything from lift tickets to hotel rooms.

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If you’re planning a trip during these months, my advice is to book early. Seriously, the best spots get snapped up fast.

And hey, if you’re not a fan of long lift lines or just prefer a more chill vibe, consider visiting just before or after the peak season. You’ll still get great snow, just with a bit more breathing room!

Summer festivals are also fun

Think Aspen is just about skiing? Think again! Summer here is a blast, thanks to some amazing festivals. The town totally transforms and there’s this cool, vibrant energy everywhere.

Top of the list? The Aspen Music Festival. It’s not just any music fest – it’s one of the most prestigious classical music festivals in the States. Imagine chilling on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by mountains, listening to world-class music. Pretty awesome, right?

Then there’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass. This one’s for jazz lovers, but honestly, anyone would have a great time. It’s a mix of big names and new artists, and the vibe is just so laid-back and fun.

And the best part? These festivals are perfect for everyone – whether you’re a hardcore music fan or just looking for a cool way to spend a summer day. So, if you’re in Aspen during the summer, don’t miss out on these festivals. They’re a whole different way to experience the town!

body of water across the mountain during sunset, Aspen, Colorado

There are numerous hiking trails for all skill levels

Heading to Aspen isn’t just about the ski slopes; it’s a hiker’s paradise too! The area is crammed with hiking trails for every level. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just want to enjoy a leisurely walk with stunning views, Aspen’s got you covered.

For beginners, try the Rio Grande Trail. It’s pretty flat and offers gorgeous views without too much effort. Perfect for a family outing or a relaxed stroll.

Now, if you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, Crater Lake Trail is a must-try. It’s a moderate hike that leads you to an incredible mountain lake view.

And for the adventure seekers? Conundrum Hot Springs is your go-to. It’s a tougher hike, but the reward is a soak in natural hot springs with an unreal mountain backdrop.

Just remember, no matter the trail, always pack water, snacks, and sunscreen. Aspen’s trails are as diverse as they are beautiful, so there’s always something new to explore!

Aspen offers a range of dining options

Foodies, rejoice! Aspen’s dining scene is as varied as its ski trails. From fancy, upscale restaurants to cozy, casual spots, there’s something for every palate and pocket.

Craving some fine dining? Aspen’s got plenty of high-end restaurants where you can treat yourself to a gourmet meal. Think fresh, innovative cuisine, often with a local twist.

But hey, it’s not all about splurging. The town also has its fair share of affordable eateries. You can grab a delicious burger, some hearty pasta, or even a quick taco that won’t break the bank.

And let’s not forget about the après-ski scene. After a day on the slopes, there’s nothing better than chilling with friends over some craft beers or hot chocolate.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot or just a fun place to hang out, Aspen’s dining options have got you covered. Just remember, during peak seasons, reservations are your best friend!

brown brick house near green grass field and trees during daytime, Aspen, Colorado

You don’t necessarily need a car in Aspen

Here’s a cool thing about Aspen: you really don’t need a car to get around. The town is super walkable, and there’s a fantastic public transportation system. Seriously, it’s so easy to hop on a bus and get wherever you need to go.

The local buses, known as the RFTA (Roaring Fork Transportation Authority), are free within Aspen and Snowmass Village. They run frequently and cover most areas you’ll want to visit. Plus, it’s a great way to be eco-friendly while on vacation!

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If you’re planning to explore beyond the town, like heading to some of the hiking trails or other nearby attractions, the bus system has got you covered there too, though some routes might have a small fee.

And for those late-night outings or if you’re just feeling a bit lazy, there are always taxis and rideshares. So, save yourself the hassle and expense of renting a car. In Aspen, getting around is a breeze without one!

You can rent ski and snowboard equipment in town

Packing for a ski trip can be a hassle, especially when you have to lug around all that gear. But here’s some good news: in Aspen, you can easily rent ski and snowboard equipment right in town. It’s super convenient and means you can travel light.

There are loads of rental shops offering everything from basic to top-of-the-line gear. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, they’ve got you covered. Plus, the staff in these shops are usually pretty knowledgeable and can help you find the perfect fit.

And here’s a pro tip: consider booking your gear online in advance. This can save you time and sometimes even money. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your size being out of stock.

So, forget about stuffing your ski boots into your suitcase. Just bring your enthusiasm and pick up some great gear when you arrive.

shallow focus photo of blue flowers, Aspen, Colorado

There’s a wide range of accommodations

When it comes to finding a place to stay in Aspen, you’re spoiled for choice. The town offers a wide range of accommodations, catering to all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for luxury or just a cozy spot to crash, Aspen has it all.

For those who love the finer things in life, there are luxury resorts and boutique hotels with all the bells and whistles – think spa services, gourmet restaurants, and stunning mountain views.

But if you’re on a budget, don’t sweat it. There are also plenty of affordable lodges and condos that offer comfort without the hefty price tag.

And for a more unique experience, check out the charming bed and breakfasts or even a rental home for a more personal touch. Just remember, Aspen is a popular spot, especially during ski season and summer festivals. So, my advice? Book early to snag the best spots.

Many hotels and resorts offer spa services

After a day hitting the slopes or exploring the trails, there’s no better way to unwind than with a spa day. And guess what? In Aspen, many hotels and resorts offer top-notch spa services. It’s like the cherry on top of your vacation sundae!

These spas are not just about massages (though, let’s be honest, a good massage is pretty amazing). They offer a whole range of treatments – from rejuvenating facials to relaxing hot stone therapies.

Imagine soaking in a hot tub with mountain views or unwinding in a steam room after a day in the cold. Sounds heavenly, right?

And the best part? You don’t always have to be a guest at the hotel to book a spa day.

blue yellow and red hot air balloon in mid air, Aspen, Colorado

Aspen has a lively nightlife scene

When the sun sets in Aspen, the fun doesn’t stop – it just shifts gears. This mountain town has a surprisingly lively nightlife scene that’s worth checking out. Whether you’re into cozy pubs, chic lounges, or vibrant clubs, Aspen’s got a bit of everything.

For a laid-back evening, there are plenty of bars and pubs where you can grab a craft beer or a cocktail and just chill. These spots are great for catching up with friends or making new ones.

And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, hit up one of Aspen’s trendy nightclubs. They often host DJs and live bands, so you can dance the night away.

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Don’t forget about the après-ski scene, which is pretty legendary here. It’s all about warming up with a hot drink and some good company after a day on the slopes.

Aspen is quite pet-friendly

Bringing your furry friend to Aspen? Great news – this town loves pets! Aspen is super pet-friendly, making it a breeze to travel with your four-legged companion.

Many hotels and accommodations in Aspen welcome pets, often with open arms. Some even offer special pet amenities like beds, bowls, and treats. It’s like a little vacation for your pet too!

And when it comes to dining, you’ll find plenty of restaurants with pet-friendly patios. So, you and your buddy can enjoy a meal together in the fresh mountain air.

For some outdoor fun, there are numerous trails and parks where dogs are more than welcome, as long as they’re on a leash.

And if you want to let your dog run free, check out one of the local dog parks. Just remember to be respectful and clean up after your pet.

So, pack that leash and some treats, because Aspen is ready to welcome you and your furry friend with open arms!

green grass field near lake and mountains under white clouds and blue sky during daytime, Aspen, Colorado

Aspen can be expensive

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Aspen can be a bit pricey. It’s known for its luxury resorts and upscale dining, which can add up. But don’t let that scare you off – with a bit of planning, you can still have an amazing time without blowing your budget.

Accommodation and dining are where you’ll likely spend the most. During peak seasons, like ski season and summer festivals, prices can soar. To save some cash, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons – late spring or early fall – when rates are lower and the town is less crowded.

For dining, there are plenty of affordable eateries around town. You don’t have to dine at a high-end restaurant to enjoy good food in Aspen. And when it comes to activities, there’s a bunch of free or low-cost options, like hiking or just exploring the town.

So, yes, while Aspen has a rep for being expensive, it’s definitely possible to enjoy it without breaking the bank. Just plan ahead and look out for those deals!


Travel tips and tricks:

  • Save big on flights with Skyscanner.com – This incredible tool lets you find the most affordable airfare to your dream destination. You’ll love their “Whole Month” feature, which displays the best prices for the entire month. If you’re flexible with travel dates, this is a game-changer for scoring the cheapest tickets.
  • Stay in the heart of the action – I always find the perfect accommodation on Booking.com. Their map view lets me filter hotels by my budget and select ones that are right in the center of it all. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this easy way to book your ideal stay!
  • Go beyond the resort – I’m all about making the most of my trips, and GetYourGuide.com has been a lifesaver for booking unforgettable tours and day trips. It’s the most hassle-free way to dive into the local culture and explore the hidden gems in every new place.
  • Hit the road with DiscoverCars.com – There’s no better way to explore your destination than by car! Renting a vehicle has never been easier, and with their competitive prices, you’ll have the freedom to create your own adventures.

I highly recommend trying these tools for yourself – not only will you save money, but you’ll also create memories that last a lifetime. Happy travels!


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