Tags Posts tagged with "Aspen"


By Deb Stanley, 

Stunning. That’s a good word to use for the views of the turning leaves along Castle Creek Road on the drive to the Cathedral Lake trailhead. Nearly every turn along the 12 mile drive from Aspen to the trailhead has yet another stunning view.

Even the trailhead parking lot is surrounded Aspen trees. Come in mid-to-late September and the trees should be showing off their fall colors – bright yellow with a possible tinge of orange or red. Come too late and the leaves may be brown or even gone in the wind.

The trail starts next to a signboard. The trail immediately takes hikers right into the middle of an Aspen grove. Look left, right, forward or behind and there are colorful Aspens everywhere. Even the ground cover is yellow, orange and red. When the trees open up, enjoy the yellow Aspen groves that cover the nearby hillsides.

The trail winds through colorful groves for quite some time, but there’s another treat along the way — the loud, crashing sound of Pine Creek. In fact, take a few steps off the trail when you hear the loudest sounds or when you see social trails leading to the river and you’ll likely be treated to a beautiful cascade. We saw impressive waterfalls at 0.64 miles and 0.75 miles from the trailhead, shortly before a sign telling hikers they were entering the Maroon Bells Snowmass wilderness.

1.1 miles from the trailhead, the switchbacks begin. The first set are pretty easy. Around 1.3 miles from the trailhead (depending on how much exploring you’ve done to see waterfalls/cascades), you’ll come to a valley with a gorge. This is a great spot to see waterfalls because of the numerous cascades in the cut.

The bad news? While you’ve climbed 1,000 feet at this point, the trail is about to get a lot steeper. Keep going. Enjoy the aspens and a quarter mile away, you’ll suddenly get a good view of the craggy peaks in the distance. Soon there’s a meadow with a creek in it and then the climbing begins again.

Once you hit the red scree field at around 2.1 miles, you’re hitting the home stretch. Cross the rock to the final set of REALLY STEEP switchbacks. How steep? 210 feet of elevation gain in 0.15 miles. Each switchback is short, but there’s 8 of them and they’re STEEP!

After the switchbacks, it’s just a few steps to a trail split, turn left for Cathedral Lake. And good news, from here, it’s less than a half mile to to the lake and the trail is mainly level with a few ups and downs.

When you get to the lake, the work pays off. The lake is large and sits in a bowl below several peaks. That’s Cathedral Peak to the west-northwest and Conundrum Peak to the south.

This is a lake worth spending some time at so enjoy!! And if you decide you want more, consider hiking to the top of nearby Electric Pass. It’s about 2 miles and 1,500 feet to the top of the pass from the lake.

Details: The hike to the lake and back is 5.6 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation gain, but add some extra distance for getting closer to the waterfalls and exploring at the lake.

Directions: From Aspen, take Castle Creek Road 12 miles to a signed turnoff for Cathedral Lake trailhead. It’s another 0.6 miles on a dumpy, dirt road to the trailhead.

By Chrissy Morin,

The color in the Rocky Mountains is at its peak September through October so plan your short trip form Denver to the Aspen Snowmass area through October to see some of the most spectacular fall color that Colorado has to offer.

Not only is the hike accessible to everyone, but once you are done with the hike you are just a short distance from Aspen for shopping, gourmet restaurants, and perhaps a bit of celebrity sighting along the Aspen mall if you are lucky.

If you’ve never been to Aspen you might think of it as a stuffy expensive place to visit however in the off (non ski) season you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reasonable pricing at the bed and breakfasts and hotels in the area.

If you aren’t up for the full Maroon Bells hike you can also enjoy some fabulous scenery at the John Denver Memorial Tribute Park.

This spot is one of the most photographed mountain peaks in the world and once you witness it for yourself you’ll understand why.

By Deb Stanley, 

If you enjoy lake hikes, make sure you put Maroon and Crater lakes on your “to-do” list. The hike is short, just two miles each way, but the scenery is amazing.

The hike starts at appropriately named Maroon Bells Scenic Area (directions below). Just steps from the parking lot, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the Maroon Bells, two beautiful peaks in the distance. Both of the “bells” are “14ers,” meaning they are more than 14,000-foot high. Maroon Peak is 14,156 feet and North Maroon Peak is 14,014 feet. Take just a few more steps from the parking lot and you’ll be standing at the shoreline of Maroon Lake. Come on a calm morning with no wind and you’ll be able to capture a great shot with the reflection of the Maroon Bells in the surface of the lake. If you don’t go any further than Maroon Lake, you will be happy you took the time to see this incredible place. Friends will be very jealous of your photos. But if you’re willing to hike, it’s worth taking the trek to Crater Lake.

The path starts out flat along Maroon Lake. At the other end of the lake, the trail splits. Follow the signs for West Maroon Trail/Crater Lake.

Now you’ll get a taste of hiking in Colorado. The trail quickly becomes rockier and begins to climb through the forest. If you don’t live in Colorado, you’re going to think the trail is pretty steep at times. Don’t rush the hike, enjoy it. Look at the trees, listen for the birds and watch the people go by in both directions. When the forest opens up, this hike gets even better. Take a look at how close you’re getting to the Maroon Bells. You’re not climbing them, that’s a tough hike, even for experienced climbers, but your view of the peaks just keeps getting better and better as you hike the path.

About 1.9 miles from the parking lot, you’ll come to a trail split for the Maroon-Snowmass Trail. Don’t stop here. Follow the arrow for the West Maroon Trail, walk just a few more steps and you’ll be at Crater Lake. Crater Lake is amazing because it sits in a basin surrounded by spectacular scenery and tall peaks. The lake is shallow, but very photogenic. Again, if you come on a calm day, you’ll want to take pictures of the nearby peaks reflecting in the water’s surface. If you don’t come on a calm day, you’ll still be able to take pictures of the lake and the amazing views around it.

Crater Lake is a great place for a picnic lunch and people watching. There are two very popular hikes that go by this spot — the trail from Aspen to Crested Butte and a popular backpacking trail nicknamed the four-pass loop. Watch the people going by and try to guess if they’re out for a day, two days or longer. If you eat here, watch your surroundings. Even though this is a busy area, some of my friends saw a bear at the lake around lunchtime on a day in late July.

When you’re done enjoying the views and have taken all the pictures you want, return the way you came.

Details: The hike to Crater Lake and back is about 4 miles roundtrip with 600 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Highway 82 in Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road 9 miles to the parking area. Note, the parking lots fill up before 7 a.m. on weekends in the summer. There is a $10 parking fee. From mid-June to September, you can only drive to the trailhead before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. you have to take the shuttle bus.

By Jillian Livingston, 

Where the weather may be indeterminate, one thing is constant and that is the ability to get a hot and steamy cup of java and have good conversations with friends.

Aspen has quite a few places of which to choose from, other than Starbucks, and here are my choices:

  • Jour de Fete

Owned by locals, Olivier and Amy Mottier, Jour de Fete is a French Cafe located close to The Gondola Plaza. Here one can sit in the mornings and watch the locals stop by to stuff a famous breakfast burrito or chocolate Eclair into their pack before setting out on their daily excursions. The menu includes freshly baked bread, home-style cooking and French Pastries as well as a delicious coffee (Olivier prefers to use what he thinks is the best, Lavazza coffee from Italy, a strong coffee without the bitter taste). For lunch Olivier offers a variety of grains, fish, meats and vegetables so you can create your own plate or if you prefer, make your own sandwich.

Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Early Dinner

Hours are 7:00am to 6:00pm Mon-Fri & 7am to 4pm Sat & Sun

Located at 710 East Durant Ave in Aspen (Near City Market)


  • Peach’s Corner Cafe

Peach’s, with possibly the best corner location in Aspen, is a locally operated Café offering food from local vendors. Dive into the social scene where you will see many a laptop dawning a table as casually dressed entrepreneurs hash out ideas over coffee, melted chocolate decadent muffins, breakfast sandwiches and other delicious fare.

Serving Breakfast and Lunch

Hours are Monday-Saturday from 7am to 6pm.

Located on the corner of Hopkins and Galena.


  • Boden’s Butter

Aspen’s first ZGreen Certified Café and Bakery, Boden’s Butter offers gluten free, vegan and delicious naturally baked goods. With a child who is allergic to dairy, soy and eggs, Owner Kelly Hart takes her ingredients seriously whipping up incredible treats, some more healthy than others but most with organic ingredients. Serving Baked Goods and organic packaged products, Delicious Coffees and Smoothies

Hours are Monday – Saturday from 6:30am to 3pm

Located downstairs at 601 East Hopkins Ave, on the corner of Hunt and Hyman, sharing the same building with The Cheese Shop.


  • Victoria’s Expresso Wine Bar & Gourmet Grazing 

All you have to do is read the philosophy statement on their website to see why you should taste their coffee, “The perfect cup distills the true essence of artisanship, since it requires a complete harmony between the skills of the grower, the roaster and the barista. Our challenge is to source the best beans, adjust our grind, tampering, temperature, pressure and timing of our shot to bring out the hidden characters of the beans and to combine this with perfectly integrated steamed milk. This creative process is what we love to use for the enjoyment of our community of customers.” With Australian Owners, one can find many a good looking Aussie at the Cafe enjoying a true Aussie style coffee and a Brekki.

Serving Breakfast, Lunch and light dinner

Hours are 7:30am to 8pm

Located at 510 East Durant, around the corner from Belly Up.


  • ink! Coffee 

A recently remodeled local hang out, ink! Coffee has the best location in town, situated kitty corner from the Gondola. Now offering gourmet sandwiches, salads and pastries, along with healthy baked items, this has become one of my favorite places to hang out, with or without friends for there is always somebody there to engage in conversation with.

Located at 520 East Durant St, across from the gondola under Polo


By Deb Stanley,

It’s an amazing idea – did you know you can hike from Aspen to Crested Butte? The hike is 11 miles between trailheads.

On the Aspen side, the trail starts at the appropriately named Maroon Bells Scenic Area. Just steps from the parking lot, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the Maroon Bells, two beautiful peaks in the distance. The peaks are both “14ers,” meaning they are more than 14,000-feet high. Maroon Peak is 14,156 feet and North Maroon Peak is 14,014 feet,  Walk a short distance to Maroon Lake and you’ll hopefully get a great shot with the reflection of the Maroon Bells in the surface of the lake.
While it’s tempting to linger here, there are many miles ahead, so start on the path along the lake. Just past the lake, follow the signs for Crater Lake. The trail becomes rockier and begins to climb through the forest. When the forest opens up, enjoy the views of the surrounding peaks.
About 1.9 miles from the parking lot, you’ll come to a trail split for the Maroon-Snowmass Trail, follow the arrow for West Maroon Trail, walk just a few more steps and you’ll be at Crater Lake. Crater Lake is amazing because it sits in a basin surrounded by beautiful scenery and tall peaks. The lake is shallow, but very photogenic. After the lake, the trail goes west just a short distance to the bottom of the Maroon Bells cliff face, then it turns south. As you hike along the bottom of the rock, look up for waterfalls created by the melting snow above. Soon you’ll find yourself climbing up a trail, then following a creek. About four miles into the hike is a wide stream crossing. This can be a dangerous spot in wet years. Note, at this spot you’ve climbed 1,000 feet of elevation gain. There’s another 2,000 feet to go in the next 3 miles, but for now, the path is still climbing at just a slight grade as it winds through the trees.

During the next three-quarters of a mile, you’ll going to start getting glimpses of red rocks up ahead. Suddenly, at about 4.8 miles, the trees open up, and you’ll get your first look at the scenic basin ahead. This is a great spot to just turn 360 degrees and enjoy the views in every direction. Take a photo and keep going, the views are going to get better. From here, the hike begins to climb and turn west again.

Soon you’ll come to a spot where you can see Maroon Pass. That’s where you’ll climb over the saddle to drop down the valley to the Crested Butte side. But to get to the top, you’ll have to climb about 1,000 feet in the final mile. Take your time, take photos and enjoy this spot. If you come in July, you’ll hopefully be treated to fields and fields of wildflowers in an array of colors.

At the top, you’ll be amazed by the incredible view of the valley you’ve just hiked and the valley on the Crested Butte side of the pass. When you get here, take a good look at the clouds and decide how long you can stay. If storm clouds are approaching, you’ll need to take a quick picture and get below treeline as quickly as possible. If the skies are clear, you’ll want to linger here, have lunch, take lots of pictures and maybe talk with the other hikers making this incredible journey.

From here, you can return to your car on the Aspen side for a hike of 14 miles roundtrip. Or if you’ve arranged for a shuttle or a ride on the Crested Butte side, it’s time to hike on. From here, the trail drops quickly in elevation as it winds through more fields of wildflowers. As you hike through the valley, make sure you take a 360 degree turn occasionally and enjoy the view in every direction. At one point, making the full turn helped us spot a waterfall.

From the top of Maroon Pass, it’s four miles and 2,000 feet of elevation drop to the trailhead at Schofield Park. You’ll know you’re getting close when you see an old homestead. If you look closely, you may even spot a second building here.

Details: The hike from the Maroon Bells Scenic Area to the Schofield Park trailhead is 11 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain and 2,000 feet of elevation loss. The high point is 12,500 feet.

Directions: From Highway 82 in Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road 9 miles to the parking area. Note, the parking lots fill up before 7 a.m. on weekends in the summer. There is a $10 parking fee. From mid-June to September, you can only drive to the trailhead before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. you have to take the shuttle bus. Learn more.

In Crested Butte, consider the short hike to Judd Falls. For more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west, click here.

By Deb Stanley,

Driving between Aspen and Leadville on Independence Pass, don’t miss the short hike to scenic Weller Lake. The hike starts at a small, signed parking lot 0.3 miles east of mile marker 49. One end of the parking lot has marked parking spaces, the trailhead is on the other end of the parking lot.

At the Weller Lake sign, walk down a few steps to the bank of the Roaring Fork River. Turn left and follow one of the social trails to a bridge over the river.

Cross the bridge, climb up ten steps and look for a trail split. Turn right. About a quarter mile from the trailhead, you’ll find a sign marking the entrance to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

It’s around that spot that the switchbacks begin. Switchbacks are back and forth trails that crisscross a mountain, making it easier to gain elevation than going straight up.

Cross another bridge over the Weller Lake outlet stream at 0.43 miles and then it’s just an 8th of a mile to Weller Lake. You can take nice shots of the lake from here, or do some boulder hopping to get a little closer to the shore.

Details: The hike to Weller Lake and back to your car in the parking lot is about 1.25 miles round-trip with 250 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Aspen, drive 0.3 miles past the mile marker 49 sign. In 2012, there was a sign before the parking lot letting drivers know Weller Lake was next. The parking lot is paved and has about 10 spaces.

In the area, don’t miss the ghost town of Independence about 5 miles away. Click here for more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west.

By Regan Dickinson,

ESPN and Aspen Skiing Company have reached an agreement that will keep the Winter X Games, the world’s signature action sports event, in Aspen/Snowmass through 2014.

“ESPN is thrilled to extend its relationship with Aspen Skiing Company, the City of Aspen, Pitkin County and Town of Snowmass Village for two more years,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and X Games. “After 11 fantastic years of world-class competition and progression in Aspen, we’re delighted to move into the new phase of X Games growth towards a global youth and lifestyle brand with one of our most long-term and valued relationships.”

Winter X Games originally rotated on a regular basis. The inaugural event was held in Snow Summit Mountain Resort, Calif. (1997), then it moved to Crested Butte, Colo., for two years (1998-1999) before moving east to Mount Snow, Vt. (2000-2001) and then on to Aspen since 2002. As part of the new agreement, the Winter X Games will remain in Aspen/Snowmass for a total of 13 consecutive years (2002-2014).

“This has been an exemplary partnership of these two amazing brands,” said John Rigney, vice president of sales and events for Aspen Skiing Company. “A gigantic thank you goes to the entire Aspen/Snowmass community for its vision, support and commitment to this great event that is very much a part of our resort’s identity.”

By Jillian Livingston,

Whether you are an animal on your mountain bike or more in love with the free form motion of riding on single tracks through the forest, Aspen and Snowmass have some amazing trails to get your heart rate pumping and your adrenaline rushing to greater heights, and to get you thinking like a kid again.

This list of my top four favorites is prepared for those who are ready to climb for their downhill rewards, as well as for those who prefer to have the luxury of hitching a ride up on a gondola in order to find your ya yas on the downhill.

The Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass will take you and your bike to the midway point or you can ride the Elk Camp chairlift to the summit of Snowmass and access a trail system covering 50 miles of terrain including gentle roads to challenging single track – novice riders and experts alike are sure to get their fill here! Daily and weekly bike haul passes can be purchased in the Snowmass Gondola Ticket Office. Elk Camp Gondola runs daily and the Elk Camp Chairlift is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 22 – September 3.

What is most exciting is that Snowmass has partnered with Gravity Logic, the leading designer of safe, sustainable, progressive mountain bike trails for summer resort operations, and you can now ride on the Vapor and new Valhalla trails. Valhalla is 2.75 miles long and 1,400 feet of vertical with berms, jumps, bridges, tabletops, wall rides and more. The trails may look more challenging than other technical single track but rumor has it that they are less daunting for they are one directional and have less obstacles. There is only one way to find out!

Snowmass Rim Trail:

The trail starts out with an immediate climb that takes you up switchbacks and through wildflowers. As you climb you are rewarded with views up Snowmass Creek. At the top of the switchbacks there is a large granite yin yang platform where one can find inner peace while viewing Mount Daly and the Snowmass Creek Valley, or just lay in the middle to rest.

Continue on down the trail and it takes you toward Wildcat Ranch and back down to Sinclair Road which spills out onto Brushcreek Road.


Located on the sunny side of town is the Smuggler/Hunter Creep Route. To get to the fun you have to endure the often excruciatingly hot 1.6 miles up the Smuggler jeep road that takes you to a platform that has spectacular views of the town of Aspen and Ajax.

From the platform you can access Tootsie Roll, Lollipop and other fun single tracks that continuously switchback their way further up the mountain. When done with the confectionery, travel down into the beautiful Hunter Creek Valley and if you are not done yet when you get there, head back up to Four Corners. If you go down the other side you can end up in Woody Creek where the Margaritas are renown for making you sing…and dance!

Tiehack/Buttermilk/Government Trail:

If you make it up those other rides, now it is time for you to attack this trail. Ride up the monotonous service road that soon cuts into a single track that winds over to the Buttermilk Ski Area. When you reach the restaurant at the top of Buttermilk you will most definitely feel tired but I promise that it is worth it for there are spectacular views of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley and the single track down that leads you  to the Government Trail is loads of fun.

Rio Grande Trail:

For those of you that just want a leisurely family ride, head down the Rio Grande Trail.

This friendly bike path runs 42 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, with mileage markers found at half-mile intervals. Instead of a Margarita stop for lunch at the aforementioned Woody Creek Tavern.

*NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on the trail between the Catherine Bridge trailhead and Rock Bottom Ranch on Hooks Spur Road.

**For Mountain Biking clinics click here.

***An informative local mountain biking guidebook is “Mountain Biking Aspen to Glenwood,” by Garrick Pfaffmann.




By Sue Gabel,

Colorado is one of the most popular winter destinations so it’s no wonder this state would have five of the best ski resorts in the country. Skiing enthusiasts can score phenomenal all-inclusive deals, tons of fresh dry powder on the slopes and find a variety of events, activities, restaurants and nightlife.

Vail, ColoradoWhen most people think of skiing in Colorado, Vail is one of the first locations that comes to mind. Vail Mountain is an enormous winter hub for skiers, snowboarders, sledding, snowshoeing and anyone who is seeking the best of the best in resort form. Enjoy seven miles of sloping fun on both sides of the mountain. The resort itself encompasses more than 5,000 acres. It’s not only a favored family resort, but a singles resort too. Vail Mountain also offers skiing lessons at their ski school for both adults and children.

Aspen, Colorado. Another popular and talked about ski destination in Colorado is Aspen. Aspen’s resort town is a favorite with the rich and famous and other well-to-do individuals, but there are vacation packages available for various budgets. The Aspen ski and resort area features over 3,000 acres and its main mountain has a vertical drop of almost 4,500 feet. Aspen offers ski trails for everyone whether you’re a novice or intermediate skier. As one of the five best ski resorts in Colorado, Aspen is hard to beat with its variety of terrain parks, four on-site restaurants, retail and rental shops and comfortable accommodations.

Breckenridge, Colorado. With a base elevation of 9,600 feet, a vertical rise of almost 3,400 feet, 30 ski lifts and approximately 2,500 acres of ski terrain, Breckenridge is undoubtedly one of the five best ski resorts in Colorado. Open since 1961, Breckenridge has been providing winter sports enthusiasts’ hours of slope time for almost 50 years. Breckenridge has about 155 skiing and snowboarding trails available, and its longest trail called the “Four O’Clock” is 3.5 miles long.

Telluride, Colorado. For its unmatched beauty, hideaway location and friendly town, Telluride, Colorado, is not a well-known area, but is considered one of the five best ski resorts in Colorado. Telluride is actually located amongst 13,000 and 14,000-foot Rocky Mountain peaks, offering a unique ski-in, ski-out type of resort town. The resort has become so popular over the last few ski seasons, it has expanded another 400 acres. The Telluride Ski Resort area also features some of the best restaurants, hotels, shops and spas.

Crested Butte, Colorado. Rounding off the list of top five ski resorts in Colorado is Crested Butte. This historic mining town turned ski resort is nestled among beautiful snow covered mountain peaks. Known as “the perfect mountain” by the locals, Crested Butte offers slopes and trails for all levels of skiing experience. The slopes are wide and don’t get easily crowded which is an advantage to everyone. The mountain also features extreme skiing locations on the North Face and the Head Wall. As of 2010, the newly expanded Teocalli Bowl area now adds to the extreme skiing location of the mountain.


By Deb Stanley,

Looking for solitude? Then consider the scenic drive, then hike to Fryingpan Lakes.

The drive is about 40 miles from Highway 82 in Basalt (directions below). While the drive is a bit long and slow (35-40 mph most of the way), it’s also very beautiful. The road is lined with Aspens, so if come in mid-to-late September, you’ll be tempted to stop often to photograph the turning leaves. Along the drive, you’ll also pass the very large, Reudi Reservoir. Look for sailboats skimming across the water.

The trail starts at a water diversion structure. Walk to the left of the structure, past a sign and cross the river on a bridge.

The first few steps of the hike parallel a pretty river, then the trail turns into the thick forest. It’s much cooler, temperature-wise, in the forest. And make sure you look at the trees. There are trees of all size here — small, medium and large.

Less than a half-mile from the trailhead, you’ll come to a sign letting you know you’re officially entering the Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness.

One mile into the hike, the trail emerges from the forest and into a meadow in the middle of a valley. This is a beautiful spot with the river below you and the cliffs above you.

For the rest of the hike to the lakes, you’ll be hiking in and out of the forests and meadows. This is also an up and down hike. While the elevation difference from the trailhead to the upper lakes is 1,000 feet, add at least another 250 feet of elevation gain each way for all the ups and downs.

After walking one side of the valley for 2.3 miles, suddenly the trail drops down to the river and crosses the Fryingpan River on a bridge. (Note: if you read older articles about this trail, you’ll be warned about this river crossing, but in 2012 we found a nice bridge here.) The rest of the hike is on the opposite side of the river.

After crossing several more meadows (most of them avalanche paths), and walking through several more forest sections, suddenly the lake appears at 3.8 miles from the trailhead. This is a good-sized lake in a very pretty setting. The question now — what lake is this? My GPS said it was “small lake.” Some articles call this Lower Fryingpan Lake. I’m going with Lower Fryingpan Lake. That striking mountain peak in the distance? That’s Deer Mountain, standing 13,761-feet high.

After some pictures, it’s time to hike on. From here, it’s 0.75 miles to a pair of Upper Fryingpan Lakes. Some trip reports say the trail maintenance ends at the lower lake, but we had no problem following the trial to the upper lake.

Upper Fryingpan Lake is still in the middle of a valley, but it’s a very scenic valley. The lake, at 11,059 feet, sits below two 13ers — Deer Mountain at the end of the valley and Mount Oklahoma to your left. Even the peaks on the other side of the valley will help you create amazing photos of the lake.

After a break, boulder hop to the third lake, which sits in a grassy area just past the lake or return the way you came.

Details: The hike to the upper lake is 9 miles round-trip with about 1,500 feet of elevation with all the ups and downs.

Directions: From Highway 82, take Basalt Avenue east and zero your odometer. At the traffic circle, go three-quarters of the way around to Midland Street. Go straight ahead to the stop sign and turn right, staying on Midland. Midland winds through town and turns into Fryingpan Road. When your odometer hits 31 miles, start watching for a turnoff on the right for the Fryingpan Lakes trailhead. Turn right and take the dirt road 5.7 miles to where it dead-ends at the trailhead.

If you’re in the Aspen area, don’t miss Cathedral Lake and American Lake. Find more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west here.

By Deb Stanley,

Want to have some fun? Don’t miss the Grottos Trail on Independence Pass near Aspen. The “Grottos” are a series of caves carved by the Roaring Fork River, and the same trail leads to a series of cascades. The trailhead is on Independence Pass, about nine miles from Aspen (directions below).

From the parking lot, walk across the bridge and turn left. Just 500 feet from the trailhead, a sign at a trail split points hikers going to the grottos to the left. Hike up the hill just 0.2 miles from the trailhead to the “grottos” in the rock on your left.

In this spot is a series of caves and rock formations. Come early in the summer and you’ll see why these caves have been nicknamed the “ice caves.” No matter what time of year you come, you’ll need some climbing skills to get down into the formations. And remember, it’s always easier to get down into a hole, than to climb back out, so if you decide to climb down to the caves, make sure you have a plan for climbing back out. Once inside, it’s time to explore. There are a couple “rooms” here depending on how wet and muddy you’re willing to get. You won’t need a headlamp though, the sun shines into the grottos just enough.

When you’re done exploring, head back to the trail and continue uphill to a series of signs pointing you toward the “cascades.” When you lose the trail, just keep heading toward the loud sound of water crashing over rocks. You should find the “cascades” — a series of small waterfalls. Even in late summer, in a dry year, the cascades here were still flowing in several places and directions. This spot is like a playground for water.

When you’re done exploring and taking photos, return the way you came.

Details: Walking to the grottos and cascades (along with lots of exploring) was 0.75 miles round-trip with 150 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Aspen, take Highway 82, 0.4 miles past the mile marker 50 sign to the signed, Grottos trailhead. Turn right on the dirt road down to the parking lot.

In the area, don’t miss the ghost town of Independence and Weller LakeClick here for more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west.

Don’t miss any of my hiking reports. Follow me, DenverHikingExaminer on Facebook.

Courtesy of

By Carri Wilbanks,

Headed to Aspen this summer? Well, after seeing this line-up of cultural events and outdoor activities you will want to head West to the Roaring Fork Valley!

Outdoor Plays by Theatre Aspen

Talk about a unique theater experience – Theatre Aspen’s shows are staged at beautiful Rio Grande Park, just steps off Main Street. Imagine a backdrop of Aspen Mountain and nights dotted with starts, all the while watching Broadway actors as well as local talent put on a tremendous show. Coming up this summer:

Les Misérables: June 21 – Aug 17

Fully Committed July 5 – Aug 15

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – July 11 – Aug 17

Theatre Aspen
110 E. Hallam St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-9313

Adrenlaine Rush With Blazing Adventures

Keywords here: Rafting, Inflatable Kayaks, Jeeping and Hiking. Here are three trips offered from this outdoor adventure company.

  • Whiskey River: Get ready to get whisked away on this trip down the Middle Roaring Fork. Take the trip in either a ducky or raft, followed by a stop at the Woody Creek Distillery for a tasting of locally made spirits.

*Available Tuesdays & Fridays.

*Cost: Ducky’s: $112.50 per person. Rafts: $112.50 per person

  • Cathedral Lake Hike: Trek to a stunning spot with a guide to a lake which is named for its unique feature of a cathedral stone wall.

*Round trip distance: 6 miles

*Cost: $98.50 per person, includes lunch.

  • Standup Paddle Board Tours: Learn the latest way to ride the waves. Instructors will teach you skills such as balance, paddling techniques and safety moves. Expect a great core workout! Trip finishes with a riverside BBQ lunch at a private river park near the Glenwood Canyon.

*Cost $158.50 per person. Includes lunch, rentals of wetsuit, booties, helmet and needed gear.

Blazing Adventures
555 E. Durant Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 923-4544

Discover Culture at Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum continuously rotates contemporary art from artists from around the world. Head here to check out a few of the innovative exhibitions of the summer:

  • Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper

July 26 – September 22, 2013

Through drawings and collages, this artist examines ways gender and culture shape the experience of life in our contemporary multiracial society.

Aspen Art Museum
590 N. Mill St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-8050

Connect with History at Aspen Historical Society

Learn the history of this 1888 Queen Anne style built by Jerome Wheeler. Inside you can find- Seasons of the Nuche: Transitions of the Ute People. The exhibit explores the past and present of Native Americans in the American West. The exhibit journeys through the loss of their culture, territory, language and forced assimilation and their position in the world today.

Open Tues. – Sat. 1 – 5pm. $6 adults, $5 seniors (admission fee also includes the Holden/Marolt Museum) Children under 12 Free.

Aspen Historical Society
620 W Bleeker St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-3721

Step into Nature with Aces (Aspen Center for Environmental Studies)

Learn about ecology, natural history and stewardship. Here is the line up of ongoing programs:

Starting on June 15- travel along mountain streams, over ridgelines, and through beautiful valleys with ACES’ naturalists. Options include:

  • Aspen Mountain: tours offered daily on the hour from 10 am to 3 pm. Meet at the top

of the Aspen Mountain gondola.

Discovery Center in the Snowmass Village Mall.

the Maroon Lake information center.

This hike has it all: explore the historic silver mining ghost town of Ashcroft and wander up along Castle Creekon this a 3.5 mile round-trip hike. Includes a gourmet lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse.. $75 includes tour and lunch. (Unless ordering a la carte for $38).



(Credit, Destination Hotels and Resorts)

By Billie Frank,

Aspen is a diverse town. It is a Mecca for the rich and famous, but it is more than that. In winter it attracts skiers from all economic strata. Those with leaner bank accounts finance their habit by filling the many service jobs in town. Frequently, they live elsewhere and commute. Housing in the Roaring Forks Valley does not come cheap. In the summer the area attracts outdoorsy types for the wide variety of activities available; world-class musicians for the Aspen Music Festival and some of the best minds in the world come to the Aspen Institute. Some come just to relax and enjoy the wonderful mountain scenery and fresh air.

There are all sorts of accommodations for visitors. Four and five-star hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, home and condo rentals and campsites cater to all economic levels, well sort of. The budget options are few and hard to find and the term “budget” is relative; no $50 a night rooms in Aspen.

A great option if you want to save on dining out is a condo rental. We stayed at The Gant, a condotel (part hotel, part condo) on the southwest end of town. The property offers luxury-hotel amenities; a front desk, bellmen, concierge, daily housekeeping and shuttle service. Guests can leave their cars and not deal with parking hassles when they go to town.

The complex, built in1974, underwent a complete exterior renovation three years ago. A vast majority of the privately-owned condos are rented out. The management company, Destination Hotels and Resorts has rigorous standards. The units are inspected every eighteen months both by the company and by an independent service. If they don’t meet or exceed the standard they are not rented out. The units, from one to four bedrooms are divided into three categories:

Standard: These units have clean and comfortable furnishings. The décor is dated or basic. They tend to have older kitchens and baths.

Deluxe: These units have high quality furnishings and décor with upgraded kitchens and baths.

Premier: These units feature luxurious furnishings and décor including artwork, designer lighting and top-of-the-line kitchens and baths.

Our Deluxe one-bedroom unit had a good-sized great room with a dining area, balcony, fireplace and a well-equipped granite and stainless kitchen. There was a granite bath and a small bedroom. We were there during a hot-spell. The great-room cooled by a ceiling fan stayed pretty comfortable. We used a fan in the bedroom. Aspen gets about three hot weeks a year and many places are not air-conditioned. If this is important to you, ask.

The Gant has five tennis courts (two-hard surface, two are clay) and two lovely landscaped pool areas with jetted hot-tubs. The chaise lounges around the pool are a great place to relax in the sun. If you want to cook dinner out, there are gas grills for guests’ and residents’ use and tables shaded by umbrellas for alfresco dining.

Other lodging options:

If five-star service is your goal, check out The Little Nell. The St. Regis Resort has four-stars and the historic Hotel Jerome four-diamonds. They are other luxury hotels and condos to choose from. There are companies that specialize in Aspen rentals; the international Five Star Destinations, and locally, Joshua & Company and Frias Property of Aspen.

If you are on a budget, this is the time to resort to the Internet discounters such as Expedia, Travelocity, etc. They may offer the best prices or try bidding on Priceline, you never know. The lowest price accommodations run close to or over $100 per night depending on the season. There is nary a chain motel in sight. Glenwood Springs about an hour drive and Carbondaleabout 45 minutes away have some national chain options and some less expensive lodging in general.

If you want to be in Aspen on a budget, the no frills Mountain Chalet and the St. Moritz (with some shared baths) fare well on Trip Advisor (which should always be read with a large grain of salt). Other more reasonable lodging choices are Aspen Mountain Lodge, the Annabelle Innand Mountain House Lodge. Also In summer there is the camping option.

If you want to save more, the slow season with lower rates is between ski season and summer and then the end of summer season and the Christmas holiday season.

We were the guests of The Gant while in Aspen. Their generous hospitality has not influenced this article in any way.