Everyone knows Aspen as a world-class ski town, surrounded by breathtaking mountains that attract snow chasers eager to experience their renowned slopes.
But there are three other seasons and, as Aspen locals like to say, they "came for the winter but stayed after the summer."
Here are ten reasons to visit Aspen once the snow has melted. Warning: be prepared to pack up your house and move.
The Maroon Bells are gorgeous any time of year — Photo courtesy of C2 Photography
The most photographed mountains in North America, the Maroon Bells are named for their striking shape and color, and they just beg you to climb all over them.
With six hiking trails, bike paths for all skill levels and your choice of campsites, you can take in the gorgeous views from all angles. Featuring everything from meadows full of wildflowers to groves of Aspen trees, jagged stone and alpine tundra, this is nature at its best. The Maroon Bells put on a show all year round, and will literally be the peak of your visit to Aspen.
Rent-a-Pet through Aspen Animal Shelter
Get matched up with a hiking companion through Aspen Animal Shelter's Rent-a-Pet program — Photo courtesy of C2 Photography
Whether you're missing your furry family member or just wishing you had one, the Aspen Animal Shelter will let you take one of their dogs out for a visit. And, thanks to pet-friendly hotels, you can even keep them overnight and pamper them with room service and a plush bed.
Think how great it would be to have an enthusiastic hiking companion or someone to eat dinner with at that outdoor cafe. You may make some new two-legged friends, too, as you walk your cute pal through town. The Aspen Animal Shelter has a high success rate of matching people and dogs, so be prepared to go home with more than you came with.
Stargazing at The Little Nell
Stargazing in a jeep with the five-star Little Nell — Photo courtesy of Steve Goff Photography
Although it's tempting to never leave the premises because of The Little Nell's five-star service, you shouldn't miss a chance to immerse yourself in the gazillion other stars in the Aspen night sky.
The adventure concierge – yes, The Little Nell has an adventure concierge – and an astronomy expert will take you stargazing on a private Audi Q7 tour, providing you with state-of-the-art binoculars and treats as they point out constellations, shooting stars and quarter moons. Of all the A-list stars you may see in Aspen, these are likely to be the most memorable.
Aspen Mountain Silver Queen Gondola
The Aspen Mountain Silver Queen Gondola provides stunning views — Photo courtesy of Jeremy Swanson
During the winter, the Gondola gets you to the top of Aspen Mountain so you can ski down one of more than 75 trails.
The rest of the year, you can take the 11,212-foot trip up to the peak to enjoy lunch at the Sundeck along with spectacular views. During the summer, check out Bluegrass Sundays, featuring top musicians from around the state. A favorite among locals, the free open-air concerts are a perfect way to experience the sound of music atop this beautiful mountain.
John Denver Sanctuary
Spend a peaceful afternoon at the John Denver Sanctuary — Photo courtesy of C2 Photography
The legendary singer/songwriter, whose "Rocky Mountain High" continues to inspire travelers from all over the world to make a pilgrimage to Aspen, is honored with this peaceful space near the Roaring Fork River.
An idyllic location for a picnic or some quiet "me" time, The Song Garden features Denver’s most iconic lyrics etched into native river boulders carefully placed in a circle. A single Colorado Blue Spruce stands proudly in the center as a memorial. One of the largest perennial flower gardens open to the public acts as a fitting tribute to a man whose music continues to live on more than two decades after his tragic death.
Guacamole with grasshoppers at Zocalito
Try guacamole with chapulines at Zocalito — Photo courtesy of Zocalito
When you order the guacamole with chapulines at Zocalito Latin Bistro & Rum Bar, you may be surprised to learn you're eating grasshoppers. And you may be even more surprised to learn you're loving them.
Chef Michael Beary celebrates the flavors of Oaxaca with authentic ingredients like rare chilhuacle chiles, agave worms and a variety of rich and delicious spices. The restaurant also features an extensive menu of margaritas and mojitos which make those chapulines go down nice and smooth.
Aspen Historical Society Historic Pub Crawl
Drink your way through history on the Aspen Historical Society Historic Pub Crawl — Photo courtesy of Aspen Historical Society
Take a guided tour of Aspen's legendary pubs to learn the history and local lore of each one. Meet at Red Onion, then move on to the Aspen Brewing Company and end up at the J-Bar.
The tour is led by the Aspen Historical Society so you know it's official and educational. It's also an excuse to drink – in the name of research, of course.
Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga at Hotel Jerome
You can practice Stand Up Paddleboarding Yoga at Hotel Jerome or just SUP — Photo courtesy of C2 Photography
This historic hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is often described as Aspen's "crown jewel," and the king of the castle is Rocky, the Hotel Jerome’s famous canine greeter.
Once you've met the pup, head back out and try SUP – Stand Up Paddle Board – or SUP Yoga, where the Colorado River becomes your studio. Whatever you decide to do at Hotel Jerome – inside or outside (both are gorgeous) – you’ll find yourself fully present, feeling grateful and breathing easy.
Make a new furry friend at these innovative hotels
Make a new furry friend at these innovative hotels
The Ultimate Taxi
The Ultimate Taxi is a destination in itself — Photo courtesy of Red Mtn Productions
A 45-minute musical adventure filled with lasers, synthesizers and the first Internet-connected computer to be installed in a cab, The Ultimate Taxi is a destination in itself.
Driver Jon Barnes treats you to a rock concert, amusement ride, magic show and 3-D laser light show, all while taking you around Aspen in his classic yellow Checker cab. Celebs from George Lucas to Ringo Starr to Kevin Costner have joined Barnes for this uber experience which leaves passengers singing its praises. Hail to The Ultimate Taxi!
Tuesday is Cruiseday in Aspen — Photo courtesy of Tamara Susa
Combining two of Aspen’s favorite activities – biking and beer – more than a hundred people meet at Aspen Brewing Company every Tuesday night during the summer for a ride around town.
A beloved local tradition, this free three-stop bike ride features a pretty flat path with a few hilarious roundabouts thrown in to keep the conversation moving. The ride ends at Smuggler Park to watch the sunset with old and new friends. Everyone is welcome but be sure to BYOB(ike).