by The Culinistas
Aspen Allure: Activity Guide
Aside from eating your Culinistas dishes, there are tons of fun things to do in Aspen. Below we’ve included our top three picks, and want to give a shout out to our friend & deep Aspen insider May Selby from The Little Nell who gave some great insights. Get ready for a summer full of backyard BBQs, burly hikes, and some great trips to the Aspen Market.
Hit the Trail!
Smuggler Mountain Trail
Smuggler Mountain Trail is a go-to for Aspen locals throughout the summer. Not too strenuous, this three-mile round trip hike offers incredible views of Aspen and Aspen Mountain. To get to the start of the trail, you can head east out of town along Highway 82 (Cooper Street). Cross the bridge and in about fifty yards you’re going to hang a left at Park Avenue. As the street begins to curve towards the left, you’re going to turn right to head towards the mountain, hiking up through Midland Neighborhood until you reach the trailhead.
Hunter Creek Trail
Hunter Creek Trail connects to Smuggler so you could carry on from Smuggler to make a loop hike or start from another trailhead to access a different part of the trail. An easy version is a one-and-a-half-mile out-and-back that runs parallel to Hunter Creek, with bridges to cross the creek scattered throughout the trail. Go hiking or on a nice off-road bike ride. Park in the public parking area at the base of Red Mountain and the trailhead will be off of Hunter Creek Drive, a little farther up the mountain.
Ute Trail is the most difficult of our suggestions. A consistent incline, this steep singletrack is a little under two and a half miles roundtrip with incredible views. It’s strenuous, but definitely worth it. It’s also easily accessible from downtown. Start by heading east on Main Street. When the street begins to right curve, it will change to Original Street and head south. This will put you in the right direction for Aspen Mountain. As Original comes to an end, turn left (sharp left!) to get onto Ute Avenue. Go along Ute until you see signs for the trail. Instead of turning around at the rock outcropping at the top of the trail, you could continue venturing up and climb to the top of Aspen Mountain. The Silver Queen Gondola runs daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and offers complimentary rides down – check operating hours to be sure you time it right.
Side note about Mountain Biking: Sky Mountain Park near Aspen Airport offers some of the most well-groomed singletrack trails you’ll find anywhere.
The Aspen Art Museum was founded in 1979 to supply Aspen residents and visitors with a rotation of contemporary art exhibitions. Built in 2014, the museum’s new home is a 33,000-square-foot structure designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and is comprised of six gallery spaces, a unique boutique and a rooftop restaurant and sculpture garden. The museum is a Kunsthalle, meaning it’s a non-collecting institution, which means different collections are constantly rotating through the space. Here are the current & upcoming exhibitions:
Robert Montgomery: The City in Their Echo December 21, 2018-April 28, 2019
Zombies: Pay Attention! December 21, 2018-May 12, 2019
Elmgreen & Dragset: It’s Never Too Late to Say Sorry November 16, 2018-May 19, 2019
Margaret Kilgallen: that’s where the beauty is. January 12- June 16
Nina Katchadourian: Twitchers and Cheaters January 12-June 16
Gabriel Rico: The Discipline of the Cave March 9-June 16
The Aspen Saturday Market should be your go-to morning activity to start off every weekend. Exclusively featuring Colorado farmers and artisans, this popular market has continued to grow since first opening in 1998, supporting local vendors, building community, and emphasizing all that is beautiful within Aspen. Beginning in mid-June and running until mid-October, everything from fresh produce to handmade ceramics can be found. There’s live music, a food court, and tons of local vendors, including, but not limited to, local jewelers, farmers, butchers and artists. It runs from 9am to 3pm every Saturday and sits at the corner of Galena and Hopkins Avenue to Hunter Street, and then back towards Hyman and Galena.