Aspen Family Fun
The Aspen area is an active family’s paradise, with hiking, biking, music and more.
By Jillian Livingston
Aspen in the summertime is an enchanting playground for families and children, a place where culture and adventure intertwine together to form a beautiful whole, within a breathtaking landscape.
Mornings are for hydrating and packing for excursions on trails that meander beside rivers that boast Gold Medal fly-fishing waters or climb up steep mountainous terrain bejeweled in wildflowers in brilliant shades of yellows, blues and reds, the colors turning luminescent under an ever-changing Colorado sky.
Afternoons are for stimulating the senses and diving into the Aspen culture as the sun casts a soft golden hue over the landscape before it slowly seeps down behind the mountaintops.
Here are a 11 ways to enjoy Aspen this summer:
1 Aspen Mountain: From May through October, the silver Queen Gondola travels 2.5 miles to the 11,212-foot summit of Aspen Mountain in just 18 minutes (aspensnowmass.com). Once at the top, one may eat lunch at the sundeck while listening to bluegrass and classical music, enjoy a game of disc golf (discs are available for rent or purchase at Four-Mountain sports) and take a hike along the ridge or climb on the climbing wall.
2 Camp Adventures: For children ages 8 – 16, Ajax Adventure Camp is the only camp for children in the valley that has special use permits issued by the U.S. forest service allowing campers and counselors to venture out into the wilderness (ajaxadventurecamp.com).
Danny Hundert, owner and founder of Ajax, describes his philosophy for the camp: “It’s all about having fun. The children learn new skills in nature without knowing that they are learning.” Activities include iron chef competitions, scavenger hunts, white water rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping and backpacking. “If children are having fun and are appreciating what they are doing in these forest settings, than they will grow up to continue doing it and will continue to protect those environments that we hold so dear and want to keep natural,” Hundert says.
Ajax Adventure Camp activities are offered daily. Day excursions as well as overnight trips are available, June 13 to Aug. 14. The camp fills up quickly, so make sure to register early.
3 Campfire Dinners: Enjoy an evening Jeep excursion and dinner at the historic Burlingame Cabin on Snowmass (stayaspensnowmass.com). Toss horseshoes, swing in the tree swing and dine on a delicious barbecue dinner, all while soaking in the panoramic views. A campfire, live music, s’mores and a golden sun setting against the magnificent Elk Mountains complete this ideal dining adventure for families. Have your concierge book a reservation for you.
4 Farmers Market: Visit the Aspen saturday Market from mid-June to mid- October and shop for Colorado-grown produce and crafts. kid favorites include the raw local honey, the kettle corn and the Italian ice (aspenchamber.org).
5 Fly-Fishing: Children ages 7 and up can learn to fly-fish in gold Medal-certified rainbow and brown trout streams. Onsite adventure guides from Aspen Outfitting can assist with excursion planning and also offer clay and pistol shooting activities (aspenoutfitting.com).
6 Mountain Biking: The rio grande trail runs 42 miles from Aspen to glenwood springs. stop for lunch at a local favorite, the Woody Creek tavern.
Bikes are rented from Aspen sports and can be arranged through the st. regis Aspen resort concierge.
For experienced mountain bikers, theElk Camp gondola will take you and your bike to the midway point on the mountain where you can access a trail system covering 40 miles of terrain, including gentle roads to challenging single tracks. Check out the new Vapor and gravity logic trails. Open daily from June 16 to sept.
3. Be sure to ask your concierge for the Aspen/snowmass biking and hiking map. Downhill tours, overnight trips and full day excursions can also be arranged.
7 Independence Pass Summit: Drive up to 12,095 feet above sea level to the summit of Independence pass that marks the continental divide. The views are spectacular at the summit, and the children will be elated to be able to hike up to the snow.
To continue the adventure, drop down the other side of the pass to explore the small town of twin Lakes, colo., once a transportation hub for the mining centers of Leadville and Aspen.
For information on when the pass opens and for trails and camping west of the summit, contact the White River National Forest, Aspen Ranger district at 970-925-3445.
8 Rodeo: This first-class rodeo in snowmass, the oldest continuously running community rodeo in colorado, is celebrating its 39th season (snowmassrodeo.org). The rodeo takes place Wednesday nights from June 13 to aug. 15. Experience the excitement of bronc riding, team roping events, barrel racing and a campfire cowboy sing-along and marshmallow roast.
9 White Water Rafting: Explore aspen and the surrounding valley on guided rafting trips down all three local rivers: the Roaring Fork, the colorado and the arkansas. Half-day and full day trips are available from Blazing adventures (blazingadventures.com).
10 Hiking: Explore the aspen/snowmass countryside with your children on a free 45-minute guided mountain walk with an enthusiastic naturalist from the aspen center for environmental studies (aspennature.org). All nature walks are free with a valid lift ticket. Another great place to hike, hunter creek trail is perfect for families, as the trail parallels hunter creek. The grade is steep as the first mile of the trail ascends more than 700 feet in elevation, but then it levels out. Families can also hike around and above this famous lake with the maroon Bells looming as a magnificent backdrop (stayaspensnowmass.com). The park is closed to automobile traffic during peak summer hours, but is accessible by all non-motorized forms of transportation, as well as bus tours sponsored by the Roaring Fork transit authority.
11 Music in the Mountains: The Snowmass Free concert series takes place Thursday evenings, from June 28 to Aug. 16, and is a great way to enjoy free music on Fanny hill (stayaspensnowmass.com). Parents and children congregate together on blankets with picnic dinners to enjoy rock, R&B, soul and Latin music as the sun sets over the stage.
There are so many exciting adventures to be had during your stay in aspen, and you can rest assured that the St. Regis concierge team is here to help you organize your days. Remember to register for your activities in advance, and be prepared for exhausted, happy children who will be sure to enjoy a memorable vacation—so memorable, they may never want to leave.