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10 Tips for Planning a Visit to Aspen in the Fall

Planning a visit to Aspen in the fall? Making the trip to Aspen is unique for each season, so what do you need to know about coming during the fall months (September through November)? This week our blog team breaks down how to prepare for a visit to Aspen in the fall with an informative Top 10 Planning List. Lets get the scoop!

How to Get Here: Aspen is accessible by car from the west by Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs via Interstate 70. It's about a 3- to 4-hour drive from Denver during the summer, depending on traffic and weather. Visitors can also take Independence Pass (Highway 82) to enter Aspen from the east. Be warned however, that the pass is narrow in spots and may make some drivers nervous. Also, large campers and extended vehicles are not allowed on the pass. Many guests prefer to fly directly into Aspen's airport, which is only a few miles outside of town. All Frias Properties guests receive complimentary transportation to and from the airport during their stay. (Aspen is small enough that often times a car isn't needed.)

Where to Stay: The best idea here is to be centrally located. Aspen isn't a large town, but depending on what you plan to do may influence where you stay. Those who want to be close to the mountain or downtown should be close to those areas. If you're looking for more privacy, try the West End, east Aspen, Cemetery Lane or Red Mountain.

Lodging Help: Find great Aspen lodging rates for your stay by calling our vacation specialists at 800-542-7736. They will listen to your needs and help you find exactly what you're looking for at a price that's juuuuuust right!

Where to Eat: Contact our Concierge Desk for their recommendations based on what type of cuisine you're looking for. The Frias Concierge can recommend restaurants and even call and book your reservations for you. Remember to book early as some of Aspen's finest restaurants sell out early. The Concierge Desk can be reached by calling 970-429-2449.

When to Go: Aspen is beautiful during the three-month time span from September through October. The high points of the season include Labor Day Weekend and the autumn foliage season, which is usually in early to mid-October, but can be earlier or later depending on the weather. Beware of high-season crowds, and make your lodging plans early. Labor Day weekend and colorful foliage weekends sell out fast!

What to Pack: The weather during this time can be very mild and pleasing. Mornings are cool, typically in the high-40s or 50s, but quickly warm up to the high-60, 70s and even 80s during the heat of the day. It rarely reaches 90 in downtown Aspen, but it has happened before. Most visitors bring shorts, skirts, walking shoes or flip-flips/sandals, short-sleeve shirts and blouses, sundresses and sunglasses. However, you may want to bring a few pairs of long pants and maybe even a jacket if you plan on being out early in the morning, late at night, or visiting the Sundeck on top of Aspen Mountain.

Snow?: Also remember that Aspen is high-altitude, so it can snow as early as September. The later in the season, the greater likelihood of some slight snowfall. Don't worry, the major stuff doesn't usually arrive in town until mid-November. Aspen Mountain and Independence Pass are much higher in altitude and will start to accumulate snow much quicker. (Independence Pass can close for the season as early as Oct. 1.)

Outdoor Attractions You Should See: No matter the time, there's plenty of both indoor and outdoor activities. Maroon Bells is probably the most popular destination. It is located just out of town and can be accessed by bike, car/truck or bus. (There is a charge for vehicles to enter Maroon Bells, and sometimes is limited in the number they allow in.) Other popular outdoor destinations in the fall include Independence Pass, Ashcroft, Smuggler Mountain and Mine, and the Rio Grande Trail. There's also everything from whitewater rafting to fly-fishing. Talk to the Frias Concierge after you book your lodging to explore the possibilities.

Indoor Attractions You Should See: Aspen also offers a number of great indoor activities. Be sure to check out the Wheeler Opera House and Belly Up Aspen. These two venues often have world-class artists performing nightly! There's also a number of outdoor concerts during the season, if you love music! For art lovers, be sure not to miss the brand new downtown Aspen Art Museum, featuring some of the best-known artists both locally and worldwide.

Sample 3-Day Itinerary:

  • Day One: Arrive in Aspen; check in; exploring downtown/shopping; 5-star dinner and nightlife afterward.
  • Day Two: Early morning bike ride along Rio Grande Trail (easier) or hike up Smuggler Mountain (more challenging); Silver Queen Gondola ride up Aspen Mountain for lunch at the Sundeck; Aspen Art Museum tour; outdoor dining on Restaurant Row for dinner; live music performance at the Belly Up at 9 p.m. to close out the day.
  • Day Three: Maroon Bells or Independence Pass getaway day; Music Tent performance; 5-star dining as you wrap up your final night!

Of course, these are just suggestions! There's boundless adventures in Aspen. Let us help you realize yours!