There are countless stories to uncover throughout Aspen for every season and activity —from big city style cultural events to outdoor adventures and everything in between. We hope these story ideas below will provide you with some inspiration to discover your own Aspen story.
Top Aspen Story Starters
While Aspen’s summer has started to rival its winters, many visitors have yet to discover Aspen’s “Secret Season”. The Secret Season in Aspen is mid-May through mid-June, when early summer is in full bloom and rivers are at full pitch offering great white-water rafting, kayaking (class 1-4 in the Roaring Fork Valley) and stand-up paddling. Visitors during this time can also enjoy road biking, hiking and remarkably affordable accommodations. For full details on Aspen’s Secret Season, click here.
Farm to Table Pioneers
With a three-month growing season, Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley are remarkably connected to their food. With ranch dinners monthly at Rock Bottom Ranch and Aspen TREE, local crops are celebrated throughout the summer at the Aspen Saturday Market and on the menus at nearly all restaurants in town.
Summer is Aspen's Cultural Season
Summer is Aspen's cultural season, with highlights including the Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum, the Aspen Music Festival season with 400 performances by renowned classical musicians; Aspen Institute's annual Aspen Ideas Festival and, Jazz Aspen June and September festivals, and more.
With the pandemic and social distancing standards, many events have been cancelled, but Aspen’s arts & culture organizations are working to create new and engaging events. For updated information on openings and events, visit https://aspenchamber.org/explore/arts-culture
New Sustainable Initiatives
- To help promote responsible tourism, ACRA created the ‘Aspen Pledge,’ an initiative with positive messages on how to visit and play in Aspen. The Aspen Pledge was created to encourage visitors – and locals - to take ownership in maintaining Aspen’s natural beauty for all for generations to come. The Aspen Pledge can be found online at www.aspenchamber.org/pledge and is also available in print at all of the ACRA visitor’s centers.
- ACRA’s “Tag Responsibly” campaign encourages locals and visitors to “Tag Responsibly – Take the Aspen Pledge.” As Instagram and other social media channels have encouraged people to travel the world while snapping photos of the most beautiful places discovered, some places in the world are getting over-visited – or people are endangering themselves for that perfect Instagram shot. Instead of using a geotag on Instagram posts, which provides the exact location down to the latitude and longitude, ACRA encourages locals and visitors to use the geotag “Tag Responsibly – Take the Aspen Pledge” to protect Aspen’s most coveted areas in and around town.
- ACRA also joined with the Pledge for the Wild, an initiative with 11 other mountain towns, supporting responsible tourism in wild places. Pledge for the Wild is proactively sharing outdoor principles and responsible tourism tips while creating a direct channel to give back to local destinations.
- Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), the local bus system, recently added eight battery powered electric buses to the RFTA fleet. The electric buses operate on City of Aspen routes.
- Passengers traveling to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) can reduce the impact of their flight with carbon offsets through an online program called The Good Traveler. The online program uses allows travelers to calculate the distance of their trip and buy offsets to cover the distance, which then get invested into carbon reducing projects.
Aspen is a biking mecca, with endless mountain biking and single track, and lift-served singletrack and downhill courses at Snowmass. Some of the best road cycling in the country is available (where top Tour de France competitors may be passing you regularly); weekly "town bike" rides open to all; and weekly bike races open to all.
Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley are the first destination in Colorado to receive the designation as an IMBA Gold Ride Center from the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). The IMBA Gold-Level evaluation criteria is comprised of key aspects that make for an amazing mountain bike destination and include the following: variety of trail types, overall trail mileage, quality of trail experiences, destination best practices, and local services. The Roaring Fork Valley’s system of trails scored high marks in each of these categories, contributing to the IMBA Gold-Level designation.
Families Reconnect in Aspen
Summer is a wonderful time to visit Aspen with children. Free events, great lodging deals and healthy outdoor activities and food choices inspire children to connect with the outdoors and their families. Summer camps for kids include Camp Ecology, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and the Aspen Art Museum's Outdoor Art Expedition.
According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), adventure travel is up 60 percent in the past year. From rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking and hiking, to stand-up paddling and fly-fishing, Aspen is a great multi-sport destination. What's more, the recently reopened Gold Butte Climbing Area offers some of the closest rock climbing of any mountain town.
Summer Camp for Families
In Aspen, little and big kids, teens and mom and dad can come and pursue their passions by day and have a family vacation in the afternoons and on weekends. From Aspen Ideas Festival and other Aspen Institute intellectual offerings to art, adventure and writing, there are numerous opportunities for every member of the family to experience their own summer camp.