cruisers' to 'double-blacks,' Ajax's slopes on Aspen
Mountain boast a variety of terrain type. There are
76 trails wending through 673 acres. Snowboarding is allowed.
After the snow has melted - or before it has started its fall
- the Silver Queen Gondola carries passengers from the center
of town to the top of the mountain, covering a vertical expanse
of 3000ft. Up top, guides from the Aspen Center of Environmental
Studies await to escort you around the natural setting.
Highlands resort, 2mi (3km) southwest of town, is a
web of 115 trails on 714 acres of uncrowded terrain. It offers
loads of thrills for the daredevils but also keeps the beginners
and intermediates in mind. At the base of the resort, the Aspen
Highlands Village offers many ski and tourist services, restaurants,
shops and residential homes.
Mountain is popular with snowboarders of all levels,
this resort is 2 miles west of Aspen. Its 42 trails stretch
across 420 acres. With a half-pipe and long-terrain park, riders
who want to jump and test out their bag of tricks can do so
to their heart's content. The resort is also known as an ideal
playground for newbie riders and skiers. Buttermilk has instructors
and terrain forgiving enough to get you contemplating snowboarding's
toughest black diamond runs before you know it.
Snowmass (not to be confused with the small town of Snowmass
Village) is 12 miles northwest of Aspen. Not only is the terrain
varied and expansive, but its bowl, The Cirque, has the biggest
lift-assisted vertical drop in the country. Nordic skiing at
Snowmass is available at the Club Cross-Country Touring Center,
featuring 20 miles of groomed trails.
During the summer, you can hop onto the Burlingame Lift, a scenic
chairlift that starts its course from the Snowmass Village Mall
and carries people to the middle of the mountain. Once there,
meander along the trails, if the mood suits you, or try out
a game of disc (Frisbee) golf, on the mountain's 18-hole course.
Bikes are allowed on the Burlingame Lift, as well as on Sam
Side-stepping with the Roaring Fork River, The
Rio Grande Trail is the place to be if you hike, jog,
walk dogs, ride a bicycle or even cross-country ski. The paved
trail passes the post office, continues riverside and along
a railroad bed, turning into a quiet dirt path. It offers amazing
views of dramatic landscapes, lush mountains and flowing rivers.
Over Maroon Lake is a pair of lovely symmetrical heights known
as the Maroon
Bells and one of the most-photographed scenes in Colorado.
They're part of the Elk Mountain Range shooting up 12,000 ft
in very unique style, with their sedimentary composition, distinctive
coloring and sharp angular forms glacially chiseled. You are
free to bicycle up the 11mile road.
Center for Environmental Studies is a 25-acre wildlife
sanctuary. With a mission to advance 'the ethic that the earth
must be respected and nurtured,' the center's naturalists provide
summertime guided walks, eagle demonstrations, special programs
for youngsters, and more. In the winter, snowshoe and ski tours
are available in various locations, and its weekly scheduled
slide shows may give you some respite from the frigid outdoors.
The native indoor trout stream may be of interest to anglers
The restored three-story Wheeler-Stallard House home of silver-baron
Jerome Wheeler was built in 1888 and today houses The
Aspen Historical Society Museum. Tours are offered through
the museum in the summer.
The Aspen Art Museum
offers changing exhibitions featuring nationally renowned artists
as well as the occasional local artist.
About 70 miles long from Independence Pass to the Colorado River,
The Roaring Fork River
is a body of water with one free-flowing personality. The Ute
Indians named it "Thunder River." In its relatively
short distance, it changes drastically in elevation making for
variable, erratic depths and scenery that takes in everything.
It's the rushing artery of Aspen with all manner of activities
surrounding it. Scenic whitewater trips are available with local
guides; full daytrips generally include lunch. Fishers reel
in trout (brown and rainbow) and whitefish and the river is
said to have the best winter fishing in the state.
Colorado could be called a relic of the silver-rush
days. It boomed in 1883 with 2000 residents giddily reeling
from silver fortunes. The mines had very shallow pockets and
by 1885 there were only 100 people left lingering. Though autumn
reveals this historic town at its present best, in any season
an excursion here is a good call for a dose of scenery peppered
with a fascinating history.
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Area is east of Aspen and
north of Independence Pass. Its name results from the marrying
of Hunter Creek and the Fryingpan River and is shadowed with
pine forest. Hiking, horseback riding and soul-searching are
all possible on its trails. You're much more likely to come
across elk, mule deer or lynx than tourist hordes.
There are a lot of high places in The
Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area and a mountain-climbing
paradise. The teeming wilderness area also offers plenty of
lakes and peaks and valleys and covers 166,938 acres brushing
up against the Continental Divide for 40miles.