Once Labor Day rolls around, the summer crowds disappear, and the crisp, cool mornings descend, it’s a lovely time to visit the chic mountain town of Aspen, Colorado. The vibe is decidedly mellower, you can find some great prices at area restaurants offering “locals’ deals,” and there are still some fabulous September special events to enjoy.
Here are some ideas of things to see and do in Aspen in the fall:
Go hiking: The mountain trails around Aspen are plentiful, and they are especially glorious in mid- to late September when the aspen trees turn a brilliant shade of gold. I love the in-town Smuggler Mountain trail (you’ll find a bunch of locals running or walking it for daily exercise), as well as Cathedral Lake and American Lake trails, both accessed via Castle Creek Road outside of town. Consider this list of hiking trails from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, or visit the U.S. Forest Service office Aspen Ranger District on 806 West Hallam Street once you’re in town for more information.
Visit the Maroon Bells: These jagged mountain peaks are Aspen’s most photographed mountains. Especially in the fall, with the leaves’ changing colors, it’s a great place to snap photos or traipse around the lake, admiring the natural beauty. Take a guided bus tour Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays through October 7; otherwise you can drive up yourself.
Stroll the Aspen Saturday Market: Downtown is the place to see and be seen on Saturdays through mid-October, when vendors sell locally made gift items and locally sourced produce at the Aspen Saturday Market. Walk around for some great people watching – and visit the vendor booths for free samples!
Kara Williams makes her home downvalley from Aspen with her husband and two school-age children. The freelance writer covers travel for a variety of magazines, newspapers and websites, and co-owns The Vacation Gals.