Have some extra time on your Colorado vacation? Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Aspen is the starting point for many adventurous skiers—but many travelers don’t know about the wonders surrounding the quaint Colorado alpine town. Explore the state’s hidden gems by adding some of the best day trips from Aspen to your itinerary!
A short drive from Aspen, you can experience picturesque towns like Vail and Marble, see the postcard-worthy Twin Lakes up close, or engage in outdoor activities near former frontier towns like Silverthorne.
Ready to experience more of Colorado’s charms on your ski vacation? Dig into these top-rated Aspen side trips to kick the adventure up a notch!
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Kick off your hiking boots and head down the road to the ghost town of Ashcroft. This old silver mining town was abandoned in 1939 after the last resident passed away. Ashcroft can be found 26 miles south of Aspen down Castle Creek Road, making it a great destination for a self-guided tour.
Start your day by driving down Castle Creek Road until you reach Ashcroft. After parking your car, lace up some sturdy hiking boots to explore the town. This historic ghost town features many original and restored buildings like the Blue Mirror Saloon and wooden homes. Learn all about the silver boom and bust in the area and explore the inside of some of the buildings that feature pieces of history on display.
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Meander around the groomed hiking trails in Ashcroft and feel what life was like when the town was at this peak. The stunning mountain landscape and endless greenery give life to a brisk afternoon walk. Although a trip to Ashcroft is easily accessible, it isn’t pet-friendly, so it’s best to leave dogs at home.
Just 30 miles north of Aspen lies Carbondale, a relaxation paradise. Head up to Carbondale for scenic views, natural hot spring pools, and golf. This mountainous town has everything you need for a relaxing day out.
Start your day by journeying south from Carbondale to Penny Hot Springs. This hot spring sits beside the highway on Crystal River with the beautiful mountain scenery in the background. Take a long relaxing dip in the naturally heated pools. The hot springs are easily accessible from the road, making it an excellent stop for visitors of all ages.
After warming up in the natural pools, drive back into Carbondale for a round or two of golf at River Valley Ranch. The 18-hole golf course sits on a stunning green with a unique mountain view as you go through the course. The River Valley Ranch also has all the facilities, including clubs, carts, and balls, to enjoy the perfect round of golf in the shadow of the Rockies. Enjoy a delectable Elk lasagna or King Salmon dinner at the Homestead Restaurant on the golf course before heading off for an after-dinner treat.
Set the mood in the evening with a zero-waste craft cocktail at Marble Distilling Co. This bar and inn is one of Colorado’s only zero-waste distilleries serving craft spirits that don’t harm the environment.
Feel good about indulging in a handcrafted cocktail, and don’t worry if you have more than one: You can always turn this one-day excursion into an overnight by booking a room at the Distillery Inn.
The modern-day Glenwood Springs is a quaint town nestled snugly in the valley between two mountains. This historic town has its roots in the Wild West and is filled with intriguing historical sites and remarkable mountain views. Located 40 miles north of Aspen, it’s the perfect side trip from the Colorado mountain town.
Start your getaway by hiking to the famous Doc Holiday’s Grave, one of the most popular Glenwood Springs tourist attractions. The hike is short but moderate, leading to the grave of American gunslinger Doc Holiday. Step back in time to America’s Wild West as you explore the historic graveyard and learn more about Doc Holiday’s history. Kid Curry, one of America’s most wanted men, is buried here, too.
Pay a visit to the Frontier Museum and The Doc Holliday Collection to learn more about the Wild West past of Glenwood Springs and what made the town so famous for bandits and gunslingers. This quaint house-turned-museum has hundreds of artifacts that helped shape Glenwood Springs into the famed resort town it is today.
As the sun sets, finish your day with a picnic dinner at Glenwood Springs Overlook. Watching the sunset and enjoying a nice meal as the town lights turn at dusk is the best way to finish an adventurous day trip to Glenwood Springs.
Step back in time to the Redstone Historic District, just 47 miles east of Aspen. Redstone was founded in 1898 as a company town for workers employed by the mines. When the industry dried up, the town focused on turning into a resort town. Redstone has been attracting tourists for decades to marvel at its historical attractions, unique sights, and soothing hot springs.
A perfect day out in Redstone starts with a tour of the historic Redstone Castle. Meander the halls of this historic home, once belonging to John Osgoode, the town founder. Each room at the Redstone Castle is stunningly decorated with furniture and art from the period and preserved beautifully.
Continue your journey through time at the Coke Oven Historic District. Take a brisk walk through the grass to see the well-preserved coke ovens up close. These ovens were once a central piece of the steel mining operation that sustained the town. Walking through the fields near the Coke Oven Historic District, you can admire the beautiful mountain landscape and learn a bit about the history that helped shape the area.
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Spend the evening relaxing in the naturally warm waters at Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs. Spend the late afternoon relaxing in the cascading hot springs as the sun dips below the mountain, and finish off your historical day trip with a massage.
Marble is a magnificent town hidden away in the Colorado mountains and is a quiet retreat for those looking for a break from Aspen’s holiday buzz. This small town is most famous for its marble quarry and historic mill but is filled with adventurous activities for those seeking a thrill. Marble is located 58 miles southeast of Aspen.
Spend a peaceful morning paddling around Beaver Lake on a stand-up paddle board. Rentals are available at SUP Marble and can be rented by the hour, half-day, or full-day. Beaver Lake is a calm reservoir with a scenic view of Hat Mountain. The calm waters are perfect for paddle boarding, fishing, or having a lakeside picnic.
Ramp up your afternoon with a visit to the Crystal Mill. This mill, built in 1892, is precariously perched on a boulder beside the rushing Crystal River. A short hiking trail easily reaches the mill and nearby log buildings.
Continue exploring the history of Marble by visiting the quarry that gave the town its name: Yule Marble Quarry. Take a walk or a drive amongst gigantic marble slabs still being removed from the quarry and learn about the marble quarrying process.
NOTE: Yule Quarry and Crystal Mill may require a 4×4 vehicle to reach. ATVs can also be rented in town if you need an extra set of wheels.
Ruedi Reservoir is a serene day trip option located just 37 miles north of Aspen. The calm waters and lush green forest surrounding it are perfect for a day in nature. Pack a picnic and plenty of snacks for a relaxing day out.
Lace up your hiking boots and trek up the Fryingpan Overlook Trail, which offers a birds-eye view of the reservoir. After completing the 4.1-mile stretch of trail, drive over to the Freeman Mesa Picnic Site and enjoy a packed lunch with a view.
Enjoy the natural wonders all around from a unique perspective with a two-hour horseback ride from D & G Horses. Their beautiful horses and expert guides will take you on a Wild West adventure through the stunning Colorado mountains and wilderness.
Twin Lakes is a pair of glacially carved alpine lakes in the beautiful Colorado mountains about 1 hour and 10 minutes south of Aspen. Enjoying a day trip to America’s highest city from Aspen is only possible during the summer, as the most direct route is closed in the winter. Even during the summer, though, this small town offers plenty for travelers to enjoy.
Start a day in Twin Lakes by driving through one of Colorado’s highest paved mountain passes. Independence Pass is a scenic stretch of highway passes over the Continental Divide and has unparalleled views of aspen tree groves and the Roaring Fork River. You’re in for a treat as you enter Twin Lakes.
Once you arrive in Twin Lakes, rent a canoe or kayak from Mt. Elbert Canoe & Kayak and get up close to the pristine lakes. Feel the breeze as you glide through the calm waters and take in the scenic mountain views around you.
After enjoying a relaxing paddle on the lake, pay a visit to the Interlaken Historic District. This historical resort was once a prominent area for the wealthy visiting Colorado. You can walk amongst the historic log buildings and surrounding forests to learn more about the history of Twin Lakes.
Vail is an aesthetically pleasing small town in the White River National Forest, most famous for its ski hills and resorts. The quaint ski town is located just 102 miles northeast of Aspen. Besides skiing, there is plenty to do in Vail, like getting up close to nature, enjoying live concerts, and sampling the finest Colorado whiskey.
Start off your adventure at Vail Stables with a one- or two-hour horse tour that rides through Vail’s magical scenery. Trot along and see Vail’s lush aspen trees and the stunning mountain scenery. A horseback ride in Vail will create memories to last a lifetime.
After enjoying the great outdoors, head into town to visit the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits. This boutique distillery offers a wide range of whiskey for tasting with a flight, cocktails, or a mix-and-match. Book a tour and get up close with the distillery process located on-site. Both whiskey lovers and beginners alike will enjoy their hand-crafted spirits.
After a fun-filled day exploring Vail, catch an evening of classical music at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Musicians from all over the United States come to play at this open-air theater. The lineup has a variety of music, from Tchaikovsky to the Harry Potter score. It’s the best way to enjoy the evening as the sun sets in Vail.
Grand Junction sits on the westernmost border of Colorado, about 128 miles west of Aspen. This small town offers stunning views of red sandstone monoliths, canyons, and a lush valley for wine. A day in Grand Junction is sure to be unforgettable for travelers of all styles.
Start your day in Grand Junction learning about the area’s rich history at the Museum of the West. One of the best places to visit Grand Junction, this interactive and informative museum displays artifacts reminiscent of the Wild West. The museum displays 19th-century firearms, vehicles, and dioramas that helped shape early Colorado. You’ll feel immersed in history as you spend the morning roaming the museum.
Take a cooling drive through the Colorado National Monument as the sun peaks. The historic drive takes an hour or more to complete if you make frequent stops to admire the red canyon landscape. Remember to stop and admire the view as you cruise along this magnificent road with the wind in your hair.
The tasting room at the Whitewater Hill Vineyards is the ideal way to end an adventurous day out. Their cold hearty grape varieties make a unique flavored wine. Sample a variety of white or red wines, ranging from sweet to dry. The winery also offers charcuterie boards that can be perfectly paired with your wine of choice. Enjoy a sip as the sun sets over the Colorado landscape!
The quaint small town of Paonia is located 69 miles east of Grand Junction. Situated in a lush agricultural region of Colorado, it’s known for homegrown apples, peonies, and wineries. Paonia makes a serene and relaxing day trip from Aspen.
Visit the area’s most popular family-run winery, and meet the family that grows local red and white wines. Stone Cottage Cellars is a stunning winery in the valley with towering Colorado mountains in the background. The stone cottage tasting room welcomes you as you arrive and puts you in the middle of a storybook fairytale. Before sampling the varieties, take a tour of the property to see how the wine is made from vine to bottle.
Orchard Valley Farms and Market is the perfect stop for lunch to sample produce and products grown right in Paonia. Try the juicy bing cherries and peaches that the region is known for. Sauces, sweets, bread, and meat can all be found in the market to make the perfect picnic lunch.
Experience and learn about natural healing herbs in the base of the West Elks with an afternoon tour of Elderberries Farm. Take a tour of the botanical sanctuary, learn about the healing powers of juniper and sage, and sample the organic produce, juices, and grains grown on-site.
Learn how to make herbal medicine with their medicinal workshop or visit during one of their seasonal events. Visiting Paonia will bring you close to nature and one of Colorado’s most important agricultural regions!
Be surrounded by mountainous beauty in the town of Silverthorne, located just 177 miles west of Grand Junction. Enjoy nature to its fullest and learn about this charming area’s cultural and natural history.
A morning round of golf at Raven Golf Club At Three Peaks starts your day in Silverthorne off right. Enjoy their pristine course perfectly framed by the snow-capped mountains. The resort has professionally designed courses for all skill levels to complement the natural landscape. Grab a seasonal lunch at the onsite restaurant after a round or two.
Head into town to visit the Dillon Schoolhouse Museum, where history comes alive. Learn about the Ute people who first discovered the region and pioneers who settled in the area and built the schoolhouse in 1882.
There are over 8,000 historical artifacts at the Dillon Schoolhouse, including a kerosene slide projector, McGuffy desks, and a piano. Experience what going to school was like for pioneer children firsthand.
Before heading back, stop at Sauce on the Blue for a delicious dinner made with local ingredients. Choose from an expansive menu perfectly paired with Italian or California wines, or pick the famous Colorado Choice Lamb Sirloin, cooked to perfection.
Elevate your dinner experience by dining in one of their private yurts for a wonderful evening in Silverthorne.