31 May 2023
School’s out, warm weather is in, and vacationers everywhere are booking their trips. While some are content to spend another year at the beach, a select group of adventurers set their eyes on the West to the small mountain town of Aspen. Gently tucked into the rugged Rocky Mountain landscape, this area, usually synonymous with snow and après ski, opens up with vast expanses, beautiful landscapes, and a vibrant cultural scene that invites travelers to explore and discover all an Aspen summer vacation offers. Whether you’re looking for scenic experiences or adrenaline-packed excursions, a summer vacation to Aspen can check all your boxes. Our ultimate guide to summer in Aspen will give you the top activities, events, and sights to check out during your stay. And remember, when you're picking your dates, nothing makes a summer vacation to Aspen better than a vacation rental that genuinely feels like home. At McCartney, our team can help you find the perfect fit for your family or group, so be sure to check our properties and book direct!
Exploring Nature: Hiking, Biking, Rafting, and More
The breathtaking views of Aspen’s four mammoth mountains are a beacon for all nature enthusiasts. Where snow once covered the peaks and ski lifts ushered enthusiastic visitors to the tip-tops of Buttermilk or Aspen Highlands, the summer sun shines on the lush forested landscapes ripe with hiking and mountain biking trails that meticulously weave through the mountain faces and valleys. From the challenging Ute Trail passes to leisurely strolls along the Rio Grande Trail, the views of Aspen and its surrounding rivers and streams can turn a regular hike into a majestic venture into paradise.
For those missing the thrill of flying down the mountains, Summer in Aspen offers a wealth of mountain biking trails that will exhilarate and challenge even the most seasoned riders. The historic mining town has increasingly become known for its summer activities as much as its snowy ones, and that’s most evident in the heart-pumping routes that weave riders through brilliant wildflower fields, beside rushing mountain streams, and up 800-plus-foot vertical climbs. Experts are encouraged to check out Smuggler-Hunter Creek Loop or Valhalla for intense rides that deliver gorgeous panoramic views and rapid descents. Intermediate riders can enjoy a handcrafted 8-mile trail built by local riders when they take on Sky Mountain Park Loop. And for those just looking for a leisurely activity or novelty nighttime ride, Verde’s 3.5-mile downhill trail in Snowmass Bike Park weaves between Elk Camp and Base Village and is an excellent starting point for those new to freeriding.
Though summer temperatures in Aspen lack humidity, things can still get warm enough to need a cool-down. And with so many brilliant mountain lakes and rivers, finding time to enjoy the area’s water activities is a must. If you want exhilaration, we recommend a whitewater rafting trip down Upper Roaring Fork. For more leisurely activities, visitors can canoe at Reudi Reservoir or kayak on the Fryingpan River. (Insider tip - if you make the trip to Fryingpan, be sure to pack your fly-fishing gear. This river is known for its world-class fishing, and with the melted snow feeding the streams, you can hook some of the finest trout in the region.)
Summer in Aspen is an outdoor lover’s dream; with so many options for how to spend a day, it’s hard to choose a favorite. If hiking, biking, or riding the rapids still leaves you itching for more outdoor fun, consider seeing Aspen from a whole new vantage point. Paragliding through the wide Colorado skies can check multiple boxes, from adrenaline-heavy to bucket-list opportunity. With a professional guide manning the reins, you can soar more than 3000 feet over Aspen Mountain and the surrounding peaks, getting a view typically reserved for the majestic winged creatures that call the Colorado sky home.
Regardless of your particular brand of outdoor fun, summer in Aspen guarantees you’ll have abundant opportunities to explore and play on your vacation.
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Aspen
After a few days of heavy activity, it’s time to throw some leisure on the agenda. Take some time to enjoy the slower side of Aspen by venturing into town and visiting some of the local shops and restaurants. The Saturday Farmers’ Market is a must, and with a fully equipped kitchen in your vacation rental from McCartney, you can enjoy a home-cooked meal full of locally grown or raised products. After the market, it’s time for a scenic ride on the Silver Queen Gondola, where you’ll be carried 12,000 feet into the sky and met with stunning views along the way. At the top, enjoy lunch at the Sundeck while you play yard games and explore the summit. You can even do a round of disc golf! As the last gondola heads down the mountain at 4pm, there’s still plenty of daylight left to burn. If it’s a Thursday between June 15th and August 24th, make the quick trip to Snowmass, just a few miles away, and enjoy the Summer Concert Series! Celebrating its 31st year, this beloved event brings free music of all genres to the Fanny Hill Concert Stage. From rock to reggae, this is a great way to live like a local on your summer vacation to Aspen. For more sightseeing tours that end with family-fun adventures, ride the Elk Camp gondola up to Lost Forest Adventure Park where you can ride the thrilling Alpine Coaster, fly through the forested canopy on their ziplines, or complete extensive ropes courses designed to excite and challenge people of all ages. No matter where you end up, be it a quiet dinner in your beautiful vacation rental or a fantastic summer night under the stars at a local performance, these summer activities make an Aspen vacation perfect for every kind of traveler.
When we learn about the westward migration of our early pioneers and settlers, we seldom remember the homesteads and towns lost along the way. Just a short drive from Aspen lies two ghost towns. Relics of a once thriving community, Ashcroft and Independence Ghost Towns both offer visitors a glimpse into the past where early dreamers tried their luck at striking it rich. Unfortunately, as the silver mines dried up, so did the towns, and by the late 1800s, only the buildings remained. Visitors to these historic sites can enjoy self-guided tours through the abandoned saloons, post offices, hotels, and other buildings as they learn about the settlements and mining history of the region.
Continuing with the uncommon Aspen activities, your summer vacation won’t be complete without a day of cultural immersion. The Aspen Art Museum and Theatre Aspen host brilliant events all summer long. From guest lectures and exhibits to touring Broadway plays, you can spend a day discovering the myriad facets of Aspen’s art scene while supporting local artists and creators.
Book Your Summer Vacation to Aspen with McCartney
Summer in Aspen lets you truly experience all this town has to offer. While the snow has its charm and definitely provides tremendous fun, the warmer weather lets you dig into the parts usually reserved only for those who live here year-round. From our markets and festivals to our brilliant landscapes and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone to do. And, with a vacation rental from McCartney, you’ll get the added bonus of a luxury home-away-from-home during your stay. Picture coming home to Silver Kingdom, a stunning 7-bedroom home just off the Aspen Golf Course. After a day on the links, you unwind in your private hot tub and gaze at the immaculate views of Pyramid Peak and Buttermilk. An excellent night’s sleep in the king-size bed gets you ready for another day of adventuring. Our chateaus and homes offer supreme locations and excellent amenities, and our dedicated team is available to answer any of your booking questions. Contact us, and book your summer Aspen vacation today!