As happy families visiting here have discovered, Aspen isn’t just for grown-ups! Regardless of the age of your children or the season when you’re visiting, there are activities to suit every family member, from pool-side lounging to vigorous hikes, skiing, snowshoeing, biking, balloon rides, horseback riding, and everything in between. Summer or winter, the opportunities for fun and adventure are nearly limitless.
The Roaring Fork Valley has dozens of hiking trails of every level of length and difficulty, including trails near our world-famous, highly photogenic peaks, the Maroon Bells. Quick in-town hikes that are perfect for families include the Rio Grande, Hunter Creek and Cloud Nine trails. For longer, more adventurous hikes, American Lake, Electric Pass, Cathedral Lake and Lost Man are but a few of the outstandingly beautiful hikes visitors savor every year.
The Aspen/Snowmass area has so many trails its sometimes called Aspen's 5th Mountain. Challenging rides abound in the wilderness, including the Hunter Creek Trail, Government Trail, Lincoln Creek Road and the Rim Trail.
Biking is a popular past time in Aspen and a convenient way to get around town, with many locations offering bike rentals and lessons. The area offers everything from the 40-mile family-friendly Rio Grande Trail to the more strenuous Maroon Bells, Ashcroft, and Independence Pass rides. Bike tours are also available.
Horseback riding is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley. Area outfitters offer rides of all lengths, from 1 hour up to multi-day overnight pack trips into the surrounding wilderness areas. Pony rides are available for little cowboys and cowgirls at Buttermilk and on Wednesday evenings at the Snowmass Rodeo Grounds. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and sunset rides provide plenty of fun for the entire family.
The Aspen area offers water sport adventure for summer visitors of every age and thrill level, from gentle river "floats" to level 5 rapids on the Arkansas River. Guided trips on the Colorado, Roaring Fork or Arkansas rivers guarantee unbeatable scenery and unforgettable memories.
Both the Roaring Fork and the Colorado offer great kayaking as well as a technical water course. Inflatable individual "duckies" offer an invigorating water day. Most trips are offered with guides/instructors for less experienced guests.
The Aspen area is blessed with an abundance of Gold Medal waters that provide outstanding conditions for dedicated fishermen/women. Experienced anglers or beginners will enjoy honing their skills with lessons and trips led by local guides on half or full-day excursions. Spin-casting trips are also available for the whole family.
For families seeking a more serene paddling experience, the nearby North Star Preserve offers scenic canoeing for the whole family.
Golf is a passion for many visitors to the Roaring Fork Valley – after all, a drive goes about 10% further at high altitude! There are a number of public courses in the area available to visitors including the Aspen Golf Club, which has a terrific Junior Golf program, the Snowmass Club, and River Valley Ranch (Carbondale), as well as the Glenwood Springs Club and the Ironbridge Club (Glenwood Springs). Additionally there are excellent private clubs, including the Maroon Creek Club and the Roaring Fork Club (Basalt).
Tennis-lovers will find plenty of action in Aspen at a number of facilities including six clay courts at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club, hard courts at the Iselin Courts at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC) and the Smuggler Racquet Club. There are also tennis courts at the Aspen Meadows and the Aspen Club and Spa.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy dining al fresco in Aspen’s many parks—from large green spaces like Wagner or Paepcke parks, to small pocket parks found in the West End residential area or sprinkled throughout downtown. For more scenic picnic spots, many people venture up to the Grottos east of Aspen on the way towards Independence Pass.
Aspen Recreation Center
Since 2003, the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC) has been a hub of year-round activity and a great place for families looking for a break from the great outdoors. The ARC offers an indoor swimming pool with water slide, lazy river and lap lanes, an NHL-size ice rink, climbing tower, fitness facilities and men’s and women’s locker rooms. The ARC also houses the Aspen Youth Center, a non-profit organization that provides local and visiting youth in grades 4 – 12 with a fun, supportive place to connect, learn and grow with kids their own age, after school and on weekends.
Aspen Skateboard Park
Since its opening, the Aspen Skateboard Park has become one of the most popular recreational facilities in town, accommodating upwards of 200 to 300 riders per day. The park features over 13,000 square feet of skate terrain and three distinct skate areas, from shallow-and-easy to deep-and-difficult, make skating possible for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced skater. Helmets are required for all skaters regardless of ability level.
For two months every summer, Snowmass Village plays host to the Wednesday night Snowmass Rodeo—a Wild West experience savored by guests and locals alike. Traditional events like saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding provide exciting entertainment for all the cowpokes in your family. It’s a Snowmass tradition not to be missed!
The mountains around Aspen are dotted with silver mines—a lasting reminder of Aspen’s Victorian silver-mining days. For a taste of that fascinating history, take a tour of the Smuggler Mine on the east end of town or Compromise Mine on Aspen Mountain.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Take in Aspen’s breathtaking scenery from a bird’s eye perspective with an unforgettable balloon ride. Lift off at dawn after a champagne toast and soak in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains on your hour-long ride.
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
For a different kind of family activity, spend a fascinating afternoon at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a wildlife preserve and nature center just past the Aspen Post Office on Puppy Smith Street. ACES presents educational programs and activities about nature, ecology and the environment through tours, nature walks and sunset beaver tours highlighting the day.
Glenwood Hot Springs
If the family is up for a day-long adventure, try the 40-mile drive to visit the Glenwood Hot Springs, a celebrated landmark in the heart of Glenwood Springs. Take a dip in the world's largest Hot Springs Pool with its water slides and mineral baths or take advantage of the adjacent mini golf course, premier athletic club, and the luxurious new Spa of the Rockies. Winter or summer, the Hot Springs is a relaxing alternative for individuals or family alike.
On-Mountain Summer Activities
Take a scenic Gondola ride to the 11,200-foot summit of Aspen Mountain with its panoramic views of the Elk Mountain Range and lay out your picnic or grab lunch at the Sundeck restaurant. There’s a lot to do at the summit of the mountain: daily nature hikes with guides from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, spirited games of Frisbee golf, Bungee trampoline rides, climbing wall, morning yoga hikes and the Nature Obstacle Course. Summer Saturdays include free classical concerts by students of the Aspen Music Festival and School and visitors always enjoy the bluegrass concerts outside the Sundeck, and numerous biking and hiking trails around the summit.
Buttermilk’s gentle terrain offers a fun location for pony rides for small children as well as horseback riding trail rides up to its scenic meadows. Hardy hikers and mountain bikers enjoy hiking or riding to the summit for stunning views of the Castle Creek and Maroon Creek valleys.
Snowmass Mountain (20 minute car or bus ride)
Summer visitors to Snowmass will find a wide variety of activities from which to choose, including extensive mountain biking trails (bikes are allowed on the chairlift to the summit), daily nature hikes with guides from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a Run & Gun Paintball course, 18-hole Frisbee Golf course, hiking trails, fun kids’ activities at the Treehouse and free Thursday night concerts on Fanny Hill.