Aspen and Snowmass in a Weekend

Photo by John Fowler

Summertime hot air balloon rides, white water rafting, romantic sunset drinks in Colorado

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Aspen and Snowmass, linked because the Aspen Skiing Company owns both mountains, couldn’t be more different and you can see them both in a weekend. Aspen is a silver-mining town gone bust that then turned white snow on Aspen Mountain (called Ajax by locals) into gold. The core of Snowmass Village, nine miles away, is built on a mountainside. Guests only need to walk three minutes to reach the slopes, from where they can ski or snowboard down to the lifts. (Or hike or mountain bike on summer-green terrain.)

Park yourself at either resort and enjoy both towns and surrounding mountains. In Summer and Fall both resorts offer colorful weekend festivals, concerts, and fast access to nearby trails and rivers.

Aspen and Snowmass: Day 1

Start the day with a tandem paragliding flight. You’ll be hooked into a harness behind a pilot, run a few steps and soar off Aspen Mountain or Snowmass Mountain for a birds-eye view of the town. Visit Aspen Paragliding.

Or take a balloon ride. Before stepping into the basket, half the fun is watching (or helping) your pilot ready the balloon. Contact Above It All Balloon Company.

At lunchtime, head to Aspen’s Meat and Cheese for a falafel sandwich or taco. In Snowmass, get a burger or brat at the double-decker patio at the Base Camp Bar.

Take an afternoon hike to an ice-blue alpine lake, follow a creek into a gorgeous river valley, or take Aspen’s “stair master” trail for a terrific view of town. Something less strenuous? Visit raptors at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and stroll nature trails around Hallum Lake.

At dinnertime in Aspen head to the Italian eatery Slice, or for a finer dining experience, try Pinon or Aspen Kitchen.

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Aspen and Snowmass: Day 2

In Aspen start with a grab-and-go coffee and bagel with salmon spread at Jour de Fete. In Snowmass grab a Southwestern or California burrito at Fuel.

Time to bike
Even if you’ve never mountain biked, there’s a trail with your name on it at Snowmass Bike Park. Clinics get you onto Verde (a beginner’s flow trail) and Expresso (with bridges and berms) with confidence. End your morning on the Elk Camp patio, with a panini or something from the rotisserie station.

Where to cool off

Spend the afternoon stand-up paddleboarding at the Northstar Nature Preserve. (You can rent boards at Aspen Bike Rentals.) Join locals kayaking at the Glenwood Water Park. Take a rafting trip on the Colorado or the Roaring Fork with Aspen Whitewater Rafting.

After all of that activity, Aspenites like Hops Culture for crafts beer and happy hour. Mezzaluna, Zocolita and Jimmy’s Bodega all serve great dinners. In Snowmass, the casual Big Hoss Grill is family friendly. At Eight-K, the chef adds sophisticated twists to comfort food.

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