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12 Sep 2023
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Fall in Aspen

As the cool air begins to blow through Aspen, we find ourselves in that sweet spot between summer and winter. The place where the mountains light up with the brilliant hues of autumn, and the days, though shorter, are filled with community events, festivals, and opportunities to make the most of the season. Before the snow begins to cover the peaks and the bounds of ski-enthusiastic tourists arrive, we’re going to show you how to plan the perfect fall trip to this piece of paradise. From peak foliage to harvest dinners, we’re covering it all. And remember, once you’re ready to book your trip, you can head over to our vacation rentals page and book directly with McCartney Properties!

Shoot for Peak Fall Foliage

The changing leaves in Aspen are something you have to see to believe. The fall season, particularly late September through early October, is when the transition is at its peak. Imagine driving through the scenic roads amid rows and rows of aspen trees cloaked in golden yellow leaves. Picture the stunning brightness reflecting off a clear mountain lake or river. The panoramas are a photographer’s dream, so be sure to pack your camera and plan for frequent stops to bask in nature’s beauty. To get all our recommendations for Aspen fall foliage, read our “Guide to Leaf Peeping” blog.  

Take Advantage of the Slower Weekdays

One of the perks of visiting Aspen during the fall is fewer crowds. You'll encounter shorter wait times at renowned restaurants like Matsuhisa and White House Tavern. Likewise, the roads are less crowded, making your drives through the scenic mountains even more enjoyable. Trails that are typically buzzing with hikers and bikers in the summer months are now tranquil pathways through autumn foliage. To really optimize on the lighter crowds, plan things on the weekdays versus the weekends while you’re here.

Make an Itinerary of Activities and Locations

Maroon Bells

No trip to Aspen would be complete without visiting Maroon Bells, especially during the fall. The view of the twin mountains with a golden sea of aspen trees in the foreground is breathtaking as it reflects off Maroon Lake.

Ashcroft and Independence Ghost Towns

Take a step back in time and explore Ashcroft and Independence, two well-preserved ghost towns, where you can learn about Aspen's rich mining history. The golden leaves and rugged wooden buildings paint a stunning picture.

Downtown Aspen

Stroll through downtown Aspen’s picturesque streets lined with luxury boutiques, galleries, and cafes. The slower pace of fall means more time to explore without the rush.

Gondola Rides and Walking Tours

The Silver Queen Gondola ride gives you a bird’s-eye view of Aspen's colorful fall canopy. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, Aspen offers various walking tours, too! You can choose from historic tours, art walks, and even food tours that lead you through some of Aspen's finest eateries.        

Elevate Your Picnic Experience

Be sure to pack your hiking boots for your fall visit to Aspen! An excellent way to spend an afternoon is with a truly “elevated” picnic. Stop by a local market for some delicious seasonal treats and then set out for a day on the trails. The Rim Trail is a moderate hike accessible from the Snowmass Village. Choose your route and enjoy spectacular views of mountains, wildflower fields, and fall colors as you explore Brush Creek Valley and the surrounding areas.

Seasonal Dining

In addition to seasonal goods at local markets, fall is an excellent time to experience the sustainable practices of our local restaurants. For those visiting September 29th, don’t miss the Harvest Dinner put on by Highwater Farm and PARC Aspen. With a menu entirely comprised of their farm’s bounty, you’re sure to be in for a gastronomic delight.

If you miss the Harvest Dinner but still want to experience farm-to-table dining at its finest, book a table at BOSQ, where chef and owner Barclay Dodge crafts inspired tasting menus based on locally grown and foraged items, ensuring every bite is ripe with seasonal perfection.

Catch an Incredible Fall Festival

Aspen Filmfest

In late September, the Aspen Filmfest takes over the town's Isis Theatre. With a line-up that ranges from documentary films to indie darlings, it's the perfect way to spend a chilly fall evening.

Snowmass Balloon Festival

The annual Snowmass Balloon Festival fills the sky with vibrant colors over the course of the three-day event. If you’re visiting September 22-24, it’s a sight not to be missed.

After experiencing the lighter-than-air spectacle, get inspired for other modes of travel on your vacation, such as horseback riding through meadows or paragliding over Aspen's kaleidoscopic landscape.

Chat with a Local

While guidebooks provide valuable information, nothing compares to local insights. Strike up a conversation with Aspen residents to find out about secret trails, lesser-known eateries, and viewpoints that aren't swamped with tourists.

Book Your Fall Vacation with McCartney Properties

At the end of your adventure-packed days, what better way to rest and recharge than by staying in a beautiful mountain chateau from McCartney Properties? With vacation rentals featuring hot tubs, pet-friendly units, and even private homes or luxury condos, there’s something to satisfy every family’s needs. In a season that ushers in change, Aspen stands as a testament to nature’s beauty and the endless activities that accompany it. Whether you’re a lover of the great outdoors or prefer the comfort of cozy restaurants and local festivals, Aspen in the fall is full of adventures waiting to be had. Browse our vacation rentals and experience the season like never before.