Ecotourism Aspen – Explore the Environment, Learn, Volunteer, Play!

Wildflowers and mountain background

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES)

For 50 years, ACES has offered year-round educational classes for all generations. Their programs are world renowned because of the location, the quality of their programs, and the support they receive from their very valued donors.  If you are bringing your family to Aspen for the summer, you must sign them up for the kid’s classes! We are constantly surprised by the variety of activities they provide for kids.  This is not your typical day camp!  Fishing, birding, junior naturalists, gardening are part of the educational program and there are even Goat Ropers; kids who learn about and help care for the animals around a ranch.  You sign up for these individually, which is ideal in case your child is not into some of the activities or those days where something else is already planned.

One of the summer programs that parents really appreciate is the Hallam Lake Kids Drop-In Series which is a Punch Pass for all-day fun. Just wait to you hear about their discoveries of the day. We suspect they will be a bit tired out from all the fresh air and meeting new friends.

Adults are never left out because there are also year round classes, and stimulating lectures, and Burlap Dinners at Rock Bottom Ranch in Basalt.

ACES is the group that you’ve seen on the mountain with the snowshoe and ski/board tours of Aspen and Snowmass. Take the tour with one of the ACES Naturalists guides and you are certain to learn things you’ve never known before. ACES provides these tours FREE of charge.


Aspen Trail Finder


This site is an excellent source for information about trails, parks, and more. Each trail has its own page with specific information and maps plus aerial views. Be sure to look this over BEFORE you start your hike, you’ll have a much better experience when you know more about the trail. You can also find additional information from followers on their blog. Sustainability is important to all forest users so we encourage everyone to be kind on the trails and of course, Pack it in – Pack it out.


Wilderness Workshop (WW)

“Founded in 1967, the Wilderness Workshop has earned a national reputation for passionate advocacy, grassroots effectiveness, and scientific authority,” Wilderness Workshop.

Take a look at the other Community Programs, Events, and read more about the various causes they have impacted in the past and the issues they are involved in now.


WW coordinates a summer Habitat Restoration program that brings together volunteers from other organizations to improve erosion control, revegetation of disturbed areas, and sometimes road/trail decommissioning. Live the beauty of the mountains around you, knowing you’ve helped to preserve it.


Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV)

RFOV are an active group of volunteers who love being outside. They jump into projects by working side-by-side on path restoration, erosion control, addressing trail safety concerns, meeting new people, and spending time in some of the most amazing locations on earth. Project areas include Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Marble, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood, Rifle, points in-between and sometime beyond. Trail work can be at easy-to-get-to areas where all ages are invited, and some areas may be a bit more remote, so you’ll want to check with them to see which project is most suitable for your group and level of interest. We’ve heard that members of the Young Stewards program have been known to celebrate the day with a sled ride and sometimes overnight trips.


RFOV is a very organized group, which is why it is a popular program in our area.  Their website tells you what to expect, what to bring, and where to show up. Bonus is that they serve you dinner at the end of the day while you share the plants and flowers you photographed, the peaks you saw in the distance, and what was accomplished. Many volunteers are avid outdoorsy people who enjoy a good story, so they are also a great source of information about the Aspen and Roaring Fork Valleys; foliage, animal, rivers and the mountains around you.


White River National Forest Service Aspen-Snowmass Ranger District


If you are considering exploring the Elk Mountain Range in any capacity, you definitely want to reference that site to do your research and pre-planning.  Any activity at 8,000’ (the elevation of Aspen, CO) requires forethought.  When taking hiking trip on an easy trail or for a day-long excursion, be sure to layer-up, bring water and a picnic. Snacks can be critical if you have to wait out a sudden rain shower. The weather changes quickly here so, Always Be Prepared for inclement weather! Be sure to check your favorite weather app to view the satellite images beyond this area so you have an idea of what might be coming your way.


The McCartney Team is Here to Help…


The staff here at McCartney Properties are experienced explorers of this area.  We are happy to recommend resources for environmental questions you have or to suggest an excursion, picnic, or drive based on your interests. And the Best Part, no matter what you choose to do that day, you can end your day with a hot shower and comfy bed in your vacation rental where you are still immersed in the breathtaking beauty of the Aspen Valley.