Last month, I was invited to Snowmass, Colorado for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass music festival and to experience what Snowmass is like in the summertime. While Snowmass is a fantastic place to go skiing in the winter, it also has plenty of warm weather activities one can participate in - everything from biking to rafting to their Ice Age Discover Center. Overall, I spent four wonderful nights in Snowmass, exploring the town and nearby Aspen by day and enjoying JAS by night.
Where to Stay:
Looking for a luxury ski-in/ski-out experience? Checkout the full-service Viceroy Snowmass conveniently located next to Snowmass' Base Village and the Elk Camp Gondola. The boutique-style, upscale property provides guests with spectacular views of the Rockies during all seasons. If fine dining is your pleasure, make sure your plans include a meal at the acclaimed Eight K restaurant where fresh, locally-sourced and organic ingredients are key components to every dish. And last, but not least, after a full-day of outdoor activities pencil in a little “me time” at the resort's Ute Indian inspired spa. Nurture your mind and de-stress your body with one of their unique signature ritual offerings.
If you're looking for a spacious condo option, The Crestwood has 138 condominiums of varying sizes, from 1 to 4 bedroom options (ours had 2 bedrooms, one as a loft, for example) and fully equipped kitchens. It's perfect for larger families that need a larger space while still being ski-in, ski-out.
What To Do:
No visit to the valley would be complete without a stop at the legendary Woody Creek Tavern. Part of the fun is getting to the tavern by bike. Thanks to Four Mountain Sports in Snowmass Village, you can rent a bike and helmet and set-off on the 12.5 mile off-road, but paved, Rio Grande Trail. Don't worry, almost the entire ride to the restaurant is downhill. After you’ve sampled their famous (they really are famous) homemade pork tamales and fresh-squeezed blue agave lime margarita – just call for a shuttle ride back to the village and leave your bike behind for Four Mountain Sports to retrieve. The quirky tavern has become a makeshift shrine to the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson, founder of the gonzo journalism movement, spent many a day and night imbibing at the tavern before taking his own life in 2005.
"Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Hunter S. Thompson
There are many hiking trails options around Snowmass and Aspen. One option is to take a gondola ride up and then walk back down the mountain, or you can hike to points like the Yin Yang Point at the edge of Snowmass Village. If you buy a gondola pass for the day, it gives you access to ride both the Elk Camp Gondola as well as the Silver Queen Gondola in nearby Aspen. Board the Elk Camp Gondola for a smooth, relaxing ride to mid-mountain. Take in the fresh mountain air and scent of the wildflowers as you continue onward via an open-air chairlift to the top of Snowmass. The journey will afford you beautiful panoramic views of the valley below and from the top you can even spot the Maroon Bells in the Elk Mountains. Hike down. Bike down. Disc golf your way down. Or, ride down and enjoy a leisurely, picturesque lunch at the Elk Camp Restaurant. Just don’t forget to pack your camera and plenty of water!
If you have a car available to you, I highly recommend going for a sunrise drive to the famous Maroon Bells. It's a magical experience to watch the sunlight crawl across the mountains and over the lake. Another driving option is the Independence Pass. If you're driving to or from Denver, the easiest way to visit Independence Pass is to go through it on your route instead of the main highway, but it's not too far of a drive away to go as an afternoon trip. The pass is the highest paved mountain road in Colorado, coming in at 12095 feet elevation. You can stop through the ghost town of Independence on your way as well as taking in stunning views of valleys, mountains, and aspen groves.
Lastly, if you're looking for a day of adventure, I highly recommend a whitewater rafting journey with Blazing Adventures. Our trip took us for two laps down a section of the Colorado River through Class 3 whitewater rapids and then finished with a long float down through Glenwood Canyon. We even spotted bald eagles and bighorn sheep along the river.
Other activity ideas:
- Mountain biking
- Horseback riding
- Visit Aspen
- Elk Camp Restaurant
- Venga Venga Cantina
- Eight K
- Woody Creek Tavern
- Base Camp Bar & Grill
- Vue Lounge
- Sage Restaurant
There are many awesome special events that take place in Snowmass during the summer season. During my trip, I attended the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival, a music festival founded in 1991. JAS was founded as a non-profit to support the music arts. This year's headliners included Maroon 5, Keith Urban, and Hall & Oates. Besides JAS, there are several other cool events that you can plan your trip around:
- Snowmass Craft Beer Rendezvous
- Snowmass Summer Concert Series
- Snowmass Balloon Festival
- Ragnar Trail Snowmass
- BLUEBIRD Art + Sound
- Colorado Scottish Festival & Rocky Mountain Highland Games
- The Aspen Snowmass Vintage Car Race
Make sure to checkout Snowmass' official site HERE for more info on special events and all other activities.
I was hosted on this trip by Snowmass Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.
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