Getaway Guide: Spend the Perfect Weekend in Snowmass, Colorado
Hiking near Elk Camp at Snowmass Ski Area. Photo Credit, courtesy of: Snowmass Tourism.
The Elk Mountain Range surrounding the Aspen-Snowmass area are some of the most stunning peaks in Colorado. From snowcapped fourteeners to mountain creeks, from wildflower strewn hillsides to stunning aspen tree groves, this corner of the Centennial State really has a special character all its own. For mountain biking, hiking, music, and great food, head to Snowmass, a beautiful village at the base of Snowmass Mountain and Ski Area. We’ve put together an awesome weekend itinerary to help you enjoy the perfect summer weekend in Snowmass, Colorado.
Day 1 — Mountain Biking, Ice Age fossils, and Live Music
Start your morning in Snowmass at Fuel Café, a cozy breakfast spot with coffee, tea, a smoothie bar, and a variety of food options, including bagels, burritos, and pastries. Once you’re fully caffeinated, it’s time to grab your mountain bike and hit the trails.
Snowmass serves as a hub for summer mountain biking and is home to some of Colorado’s best mountain biking trails, including world-class lift served downhill, cross country, and singletrack trails. With more than 80 miles and 4,408 vertical feet of trails, there’s truly something for everyone. The Snowmass Loop is a local’s favorite; this 28-mile route combines 10 different singletrack trails that make for an exciting ride and even better views. Situated on Snowmass Ski Area, the Snowmass Bike Park is also a fun option with beginner, intermediate, and expert trails featuring unique downhill features. The Bike Park is also adding new terrain for summer 2018: a 4.8-mile intermediate trail from the top of the Elk Camp Chair, along with a new expert jump trail on the lower section of the mountain.
A morning of adrenaline-fueled fun calls for a hearty lunch. Head to the Base Camp Bar & Grill, conveniently located at the base of the mountain. You can sit outside on the first floor patio or on the second story terrace that boasts the best views of Snowmass Mountain.
Pro Tip: Plan your weekend in Snowmass around June 9, 2018 for the Snowmass Rendezvous Craft Beer Festival for awesome brews and tunes. Breweries from all over the state are gathering for the third annual summer festival, featuring 30 craft breweries, a three-hour grand tasting on the Snowmass Mall, and a concert with headliner, The Drunken Hearts, on the Fanny Hill slopes. For more information, visit snowmassbeer.com.
Day 2 — Hiking, Gondola Rides, Ice Age Fossils, and Visiting the Maroon Bells
Early mornings are perfect for summer hikes. Head to the Rim Trail, a beautiful route that takes hikers up along a ridgeline above Snowmass Village. This moderate 7.8-mile round trip hike will take you to Spiral Point, a stone yin-yang platform at the high point of the trail. It offers 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks; it’s truly one of Snowmass’ most iconic panoramas.
You can’t leave Snowmass without jumping on the Gondola for a ride up the ski area. Jump on the Elk Camp Gondola at the base of Snowmass Village and grab some lunch at the newly renovated Elk Camp Restaurant. They have grab-and-go lunches, a full bar, and a beautiful patio for dining outside. Make sure to head down the mountain before 1 pm, because you’re headed on an Ice Age adventure.
Did you know that in 2010, workers on the Zeigler Reservoir discovered bones from an Ice Age Columbian mammoth? There’s lots more to learn about the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Dig, so at 1 p.m., you’re off on an easy hike guided by an Aspen Center for Environmental Studies naturalist to find out. This two-hour round trip tour will take you about 3.5 miles around the site of the dig, and you’ll learn all about the more than 36,000 bones and fossils left behind by Ice Age vertebrates.
Late afternoon is all about the Maroon Bells. As one of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes, the Maroon Bells draw photographers and visitors from around the world seeking inspiration from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Maroon Lake is flanked by two peaks, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. Like Snowmass, this basin was also touched by the Ice Age; as glaciers retreated, they carved out this stunning spot.
Getting There from Snowmass:
Because this spot is so popular, it is restricted to bus-access only from Aspen Highlands. Take the Free Shuttle from Snowmass to the Intercept Lot and jump on a free RFTA bus towards Aspen. You can transfer to the Castle Maroon bus at the Maroon Creek stop at the Aspen roundabout. Expect a fun bus tour up to the base of the bells, and you can choose to hike in to the mountains from there if you’d like to venture further out. For more information about visiting the Maroon Bells, visit gosnowmass.com.