Aspen initially gained its world renowned reputation as a luxury ski capital, known for chilly temperatures, several feet of snow, and its four beautifully maintained mountains. Over the years, visitors and locals alike learned the summer months are just as appealing, with beautiful sunny days, an abundance of hiking and mountain biking trails, and refreshing afternoon rain showers that cool the mountain air perfectly for an evening in town. Attention also began to spread to the locations downvalley, where travelers recognized the similar weather patterns in towns like Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. October through early December and April through June are generally considered “shoulder seasons” in the Valley, but the benefits that come with traveling here during these time periods have most saying, “Off-season? What’s that?” The broker associates at Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty and Roaring Fork Sotheby’s International Realty are passionate about the mountain lifestyle this Valley has to offer year round. Below, read insider advice about the favorite off-season activities of our team of locals!
Photo: Spring in the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen Chamber).
Oftentimes, weather across the Valley in the spring and the fall is referred to as “unpredictable,” with varying temperatures and types of precipitation. On days when you can’t quite plan for outdoor activities, rely on Aspen’s multitude of cultural and innovative hubs. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Aspen Art Museum offers exhibitions, lectures, and family-friendly interactive experiences. Take a day to rest your joints and your lungs, and instead stimulate your brain with the wide variety of mediums, styles and lessons that the museum has to offer.
Photo: The Aspen Art Museum on a gorgeous spring day (Arch Daily).
If you’re in the mood for a combination of physical and educational activity, look no further than the ACES guided nature tours. With options for snowshoeing or hiking during snowy or sunny months, you’ll get your blood pumping while also learning from an ACES naturalist about the Roaring Fork Valley’s unique environment and ecosystems. You can even observe special holidays by attending the Green World Day Hike and River Run Sunset Hike. These tours are available across the Valley, on Ajax Mountain and in Snowmass.
Photo: An ACES guided Snowshoe Tour on Ajax Mountain (ACES).
If you find yourself in the mood to learn about music, JAS offers a series of interactive interviews from February through April with “some of the finest young artists to grace our JAS Café stage in recent years. Learn more about the artists’ personal journeys, as well as the origins of the music they play” (JAS). Not only are these interviews informative and entertaining, they are also free of charge and virtual, to respect safety guidelines. Visit the JAS Facebook or YouTube pages to learn more.
Photo: A Jazz Aspen Snowmass event in 2018 (Aspen Public Radio).
Eric Cohen, a longtime Aspen local and Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty broker, enjoys spending the spring months outdoors with his son. “My favorite thing to do in April and May is…ski! In particular, we love to ski the surrounding mountains that become accessible with plowed roads up to Ashcroft, and the Crown Jewel of back-country spring skiing, Independence Pass!” Eric and his son enjoy High Alpine skiing and take advantage of the thousands of acres Aspen offers, which open each year on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. “One can walk just a few steps and ski 1,000 feet down to their awaiting vehicle (or a frequent skier favorite - hitchhike mode) or ski tour the surrounding 13-14,000 foot peaks. The snow pack is safe and I’ve been doing it almost every Spring for the past 32 years, and I don’t know anyone who has skied up there once and not gone back!”
Photo: An Alpine skier conquers the altitude of Independence Pass (Backcountry Magazine).
Broker Jay Wright agrees with Eric’s choice of activity: “The beauty of the spring shoulder season is that you can have the best of both worlds with winter and summer activities. I love to get out on long back-country ski tours with friends.” He mentions Mt. Sopris is a crowd favorite among his family and friends, as it offers great conditions and is near to where he lives and works. Instead of considering the spring a “shoulder season,” Jay is an optimist and capitalizes on the ever-changing weather: “There are weekends where I will be skiing one day and out on dirt the next riding my mountain bike or trail running with the pup. Red Hill in Carbondale tends to be a hotspot for these ‘on dirt’ activities in April until more of our mid-valley trails open up in May.”
Photo: Broker Jay Wright's favorite way to appreciate the gorgeous views of the Valley.
Broker Giovanna Kennedy is a hiking enthusiast and can’t wait to get back on the mountain and regain her Rocky Mountain physical fitness! “You will see me trying different trails at Sunlight Mountain, starting with the easiest ones like the Old 4 Mile Trail.” A woman who wears many hats, Giovanna also enjoys taking leadership in philanthropic opportunities at St. Stephen School. “I am the founder and chair of their annual Gala benefiting St Stephen School, which normally takes place during the winter. However, I am looking at the possibility of having an outside event this late summer instead,” provided that she can execute this event in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.
Photo: Broker Giovanna Kennedy tees up for a round of golf.
The Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty team represents a variety of hobbies and talents, with broker Fran Hogan emphasizing her love for the versatility of spring weather, as it allows for mornings on the mountain and afternoons playing golf. A few favorite courses among our broker associates include Aspen Golf Club, Ranch at Roaring Fork, and River Valley Ranch. “At this time of year, being able to ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon is such a treat! Living in Carbondale makes it easy to do both, as it is a 30 minute drive to Snowmass for a few runs, and I can be back on the golf course by early afternoon. The snowy spring skiing temperatures are so enjoyable at higher elevation on the mountain, and descending about 2000 feet suddenly feels like summer and it’s time to tee it up! springtime in the Rockies is good living!
Photo: A perfect springtime combination of snowy peaks and sunny weather at the Aspen Glen Golf Course (Aspen Glen Club).
Some brokers find themselves in the mountains, while others take advantage of warmer temperatures and spend time near the water! The Roaring Fork Valley offers several bodies of water, and Sara Kurz’s favorite is the Crystal River! “My favorite thing to do during off-season is to head up the Crystal River Valley. I’ll walk my dog along Coal Basin Road in Redstone or head to the Redstone beach on the Crystal River with a camp chair and watch my daughter play in the sand. Then we’ll have lunch or an early dinner at Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble, which opens May 1st. It’s a great time to enjoy the drive and sit outside on the restaurant deck before the summer crowd hits.”
Photo: The Crystal River in the spring is the perfect location to enjoy sunny days! (Aspen Times)
Another spring-skiing enthusiast, Ian McLendon loves to back-country ski and mountaineer through the Roaring Fork Valley’s slopes! “In late spring, the snow in the mountains endures daily freeze-thaw cycles. This creates safer conditions for ski mountaineering.” As an early riser, Ian leaves home well before dawn and summits a peak before the heat of the day hits and the snow begins to melt. One of his favorites is Hayden Peak—the peak you look at from the top of Aspen Mountain. The opportunity to enjoy the stunning views from these mountains while getting in some exercise is a perfect combination, but he emphasizes that safety is priority one. “It goes without saying that ski mountaineering or backcountry skiing require special safety training. I recommend contacting a professional guide such as Aspen Expeditions or Aspen Alpine Guides if you’re considering venturing out.”
Photo: Broker Ian McLendon prepares to conquer a massive peak in his ski mountaineering gear!
In the next few months, recognize the vast opportunities for adventure during spring in the Roaring Fork Valley! Capitalize upon the weather, short wait times, and opportunities to enjoy all the Valley has to offer. Give our brokers’ favorite activities a try, and you too will find yourself saying, “off-season? What’s that?” Visit these links for more suggestions of fun activities to try this spring: