What to do in Aspen in the Summer?

Aspen in the summer is like nowhere else in the world. Miles of hiking, running, and mountain biking trails are perfect for enthusiastic adventure vacationers. The weather is perfect almost every day and the colors of the aspen trees make the Roaring Fork Valley come to life. If you are planning a trip to Aspen during the summer, be sure to read this list first of the 12 best things to do in Aspen in the summer.

Editor Notes: As a former Aspen resident, I have to say that summer time in this mountain town are next level. One of the best kept secrets in Aspen is the Rec Center. Located near Highlands mountian, the recreation center has the most amazing indoor pool.

Aspen Colorado things to do

1. Mountain Biking in Snowmass

Snowmass is the largest of the four mountains that make up Aspen Resorts. During the summer months, Snowmass hosts some of the best MTB riding in Colorado. With seemingly endless trails and multiple lifts to save you the paddle up, Snowmass is the ultimate athletic vacation destination for mountain bikers.

2. Running or Walking the Rio Grande Trail

The 42-mile-long Rio Grande Trail is our go-to trail during the summer months. With dozens of trailheads located along the Rio Grande Trail, this is the perfect starting point for daily adventure. Having so many connecting trails makes it easy to build your own loop to start and end in downtown Aspen. In the summer in Aspen, this trail is bustling with runners, bikers, eBikers, and families.

3. Hike Ajax Mountain

Ajax Mountain is the actual name of what most refer to as Aspen Mountain. The trail(s) to the top starts next to the gondola downtown and finishes at the Sundeck. During the summer, the Sundeck is open in the afternoons and is the perfect spot for a post-hike lunch. The gondola is also running so you can save your knees from the trip down. If you are looking for something shorter, try the Ajax Klubb Loop.

4. Hang out at the Aspen Recreation Center

The Aspen “Rec” Center is the place to be during the summer months. Inside, there is an ice rink, climbing tower, water park, 6-lane pool, hot tube, sauna, gym, and locker rooms. Outside, there are batting cages, baseball fields, and soccer fields. Over the summer the Rec Center is bustling with kids enjoying summer activities, young families in the water park, and locals working out.

Editor Notes: I love running the Marolt Trail from downtown Aspen to the Rec Center. Check out the video below for a turn-by-turn guide on how to get there. There are locker rooms with showers at the Rec Center, simply bring a lock and towel. During the summer, there is a food truck that parks outside. The food is very popular with the families that frequent the Rec Center.

5. Hike Maroon Bells

A must-do on most Aspen travel guides, the Maroon Bells hike is well worth the crowds. From downtown, it is a short bus ride to the base of Highlands before going to the start of Maroon Bells. While there are a few trails you can take, our favorite is the Maroon Creek Trail which is roughly 3 miles each way (6-mile total out-and-back). The hike is rated “easy” and has a modest 870′ elevation gain. Keep in mind, that this is “easy” by Aspen standards which is more like a “Moderate” on any other scale.

Post-hike there are a couple of restaurants at Highlands including the popular local hangout, Aspen Alehouse. Want something less heavy? Check out our list of healthy food options in Aspen.

6. Hyperbaric Chamber Session

The 8,000′ elevation of Aspen can be brutal for the first few days. Spending an hour in the Hyperbaric Chamber at The Fix Aspen can help to reduce altitude illness and also provides increased energy and endurance. Other benefits stated are:

  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Relief from altitude illness
  • Improved concentration and cognitive abilities
  • Effective treatment for digestive disorders and headaches
  • Faster recovery from injury or surgery
  • Relief from aching, swollen joints and muscles
  • Improved motor function and equilibrium
  • An overall feeling of healthy rejuvenation

7. Go on an eBike Adventure

The endless trails make Aspen such a magical place to be in the summer. There are so many that it seems it would take a lifetime to explore them all. Luckily, eBikes make it easy to see even more trails without running/walking marathon distances every day. One of the best eBike rides is down the Rio Grand Trail from downtown Aspen to Woody Creek Tavern for lunch and back.

8. Picnics in Wagner Park

Wagner Park is in the center of downtown Aspen. Locals play with their dogs and sip coffee from Paradise Cafe in the mornings. In the afternoon, Wagner Park is the perfect location to put down a blanket and enjoy a sandwich from JUS or Spring Cafe. In addition, the park offers panoramic views of Ajax mountain, shadow mountain, and Red Mountain (also known as Billionaire hill).

9. Standup Paddle North Star Nature Preserve

Just out of town off Independence Pas (Highway 82), the locally named “lazy river” section of the Roaring Fork River is perfect for SUP. There are plenty of SUP rental places in downtown Aspen that will shuttle you up the river so you can enjoy a run float downstream.

10. Saturday Farmers Market

Each week over the summer, South Galena Street transforms into one of the most extraordinary farmers’ markets you have ever seen. From bronze sculptures to slow-cooked BBQ and so much in between, the Aspen Farmers Market is a great Saturday activity. There are a lot of hot meals for lunch, making the farmers’ market the perfect post-workout activity.

11. Post Workout Whole Body Cryotherapy

Athletes know the benefits of an ice bath, but elite athletes take this to the next level with Cryotherapy. A three-minute “Cryo” session in the -270 degree chamber can burn 300 to 800 calories and have many other anti-inflammatory benefits. The basic science behind Cryo is that in the extreme cold, blood will rush to your vital organs in your core. As the blood rapidly flows from your arms and legs, it flows through the heart, lungs, and liver, which cleanses and resupplies it with oxygen, nutrients, and enzymes. This all results in hyper-enriched blood that leaves you with a “wow effect immediately,” as The Fix Aspen puts it.

12. A Spa Day at the St. Regis

The Rem├ęde Spa inside St. Regis Aspen is the best place to have a spa day. To start, you’re invited into the oxygen lounge, where fresh juice, tea, and champagne are served while you kick back in cozy oversized lounge chains. Following your body treatment, facial, massage, or a combination of services, the spa is yours to explore. Day passes to the spa are also available to visitors not staying at St. Regis.