24 hours in aspen
posted: July 4, 2014
Aspen quick facts:
• 2,410 metres (7,908 feet) above sea level
• 6,658 locals
• spans 5.6 square-kilometres (3.5 square miles
Finding oneself in Aspen takes a little bit of effort or a lot of good luck—okay, maybe a little bit of both. Most locals, when asked what brought them to Aspen, will say, “Well, I came for a winter season and now it has been seven years” (or a decade, or a veritable lifetime). When the spirit and the power of the mountains takes hold of you, it’s almost impossible to live anywhere else. So here it is, a guide to one perfect summer day in Aspen (hopefully you have a million more). For a great time, follow this itinerary carefully, and high five often.
Hiking the Ute takes a bit of effort, but the view from the top is well worth it
8am – Hike the Ute Trail
Wake up early—this means out the door by 8am for mountain folks—and head to the southeast side of town. Here you’ll find the trailhead to the Ute (pronounced “yoot”) Trail, so named in the 1880s after the region’s Native Americans when Aspen boomed as a silver mining town. (It wasn’t until the 1940s that its ski town persona was born.) The Ute Trail is only a 3.5 km (2.2 mile) trek out and back, but don’t let its length fool you. Nicknamed, the Natural Stairmaster, the trail climbs more than 365 metres (1,200 feet) in just over a mile. Don’t ever ask exactly how many switchbacks there are, just take water and enjoy the beautiful view of Aspen when you reach the top.
It’s worth the wait to make your first meal of the day at Peach’s
10am – Breakfast at Peach’s
Whether by foot or bike, cruise to Peach’s Corner Cafe to be rejuvenated. Look for a line of people spilling out a door, and you’ll know you’re in the right spot. Order the breakfast quinoa bowl (ask for hot sauce to add kick), a Dave’s Shake (a smoothie so packed with greens and nutrients you’ll be ready for your next sweaty endeavour) and coffee, of course. Grab a spot on the patio and watch Aspen in action.
Book the custom Yoga Facial here ($145) and a drop-in class is included the price
11:30am – Yoga at O2 Aspen
Grab your mat and head to 4th and Main St. to O2, a studio spa and boutique. The local’s favourite class is yoga stretch. This gentle class designed to melt away stress and tension as well as increase flexibility. After all the ways we hit the trail, the hips and hammies always need some love.
Cycling to Woody’s for margaritas is practically a rite of passage in Aspen
1:30pm – Bike to Woody Creek Tavern
Rent a bike from any shop in town and hook up with the Rio Grande Trail just past Rio Grande Park. This trail runs 67.5 km (42 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, following the course of the Roaring Fork River. The good news: the way to Woody Creek Tavern—where it is mandatory that you drink the best margarita in the valley—is a beautiful 19 km (12 mile) downhill ride. (Make sure to stop 1/2 mile past Henry Stein Park to check out Slaughterhouse Falls.) The not-as-good news: you are responsible for getting yourself back up to Aspen. Best option? Be awesome, and work off the margarita, chips and fresh made guacamole you almost assuredly just ate. Second option—still awesome—phone a friend with a car and bike rack, or organize hotel transportation home.
Beer with friends is good for the soul; here’s a pint of the Independence Pass Ale
5:00pm – Hit the Aspen Brewery
Since you’re already imbibing, head to locals’ hangout Aspen Brewery. No food is served here, but you can carry-in or even have takeout delivered (my favourite is NY Pizza, just two blocks away). Sometimes called the local Cheers, the brewery is the perfect place to sit out on the patio, find old friends and listen to live music. Better yet, catch Tuesday Cruisday, where 150 people depart the brewery on bikes for an 8 km (5 mile) cruise around Aspen, winding up at Smuggler Park in time for the sunset over Mt. Sopris.
L’Hostaria is a great place to carbo load before your next big hike
8pm – Dinner at L’Hostaria
At L’Hostaria the pasta is made fresh daily and served with loving attention to detail—the perfect meal to set you up for tomorrow’s sweat session. Sit in the busy bar, which is first come first serve, and order calamari fritti and the antipasto. For dessert, the pistachio gelato cake is a must.
Heading to Aspen-Snowmass for Wanderlust? Come on by and check out our new Aspen store at Space C-204 S. Galena Street.
Above images by Erik Wardell for Wander Media
Kellyn Johnson has lived in Aspen, Colorado for seven years. When she’s not on her mat teaching or practicing yoga, you can find her hiking, mountain biking, backpacking and snowboarding in the stunning playground that Aspen offers. Erik Wardell, who shot this story, is a mountain athlete, photographer and wanderer who has spent the better part of a decade diligently exploring the city of Aspen and the surrounding Rocky Mountain wilderness. To see more of Aspen through his eyes, follow him on Instagram.