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River sports abound in Aspen

Posted: 21 Jun 2017

Although water sports aren't the first thing that come to mind when considering an Aspen summer vacation, this mountain town's plethora of local rivers and lakes provides a playground for those looking to get wet. From leisurely rafting trips to cliff jumping, there's fun for everyone.


Inflatable kayaks, also known as "duckies," are a thrilling way to ride the rapids of the Roaring Fork River between May and September. Accommodating one or two people (plus a guide, depending on the outfitter), duckies make smaller rapids more exciting and shallower sections of river navigable when waters get lower in the fall. Some outfitters allow guests to mix rafts and duckies on trips, which is a great way to satisfy varying levels of rafters on the same stretch of water.


Cast your line in either the Roaring Fork River or the Frying Pan River, and better yet, head to the convergence near Basalt. Both rivers have Gold Medal designations, and our trusted outfitters set up guests to score slippery trophies on memorable fishing trips. Call the Frias Concierge Desk at (970) 429-2449 to explore options.


Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), a sport that's known and loved in beach communities, has taken hold in Aspen. Our high-altitude lakes and slow-water sections of rivers are the perfect places to dip a paddle while taking in some amazing scenery. Just east of downtown Aspen, there is prime paddle boarding at Stillwater, a stretch of the Roaring Fork River that runs from Wildwood School downstream to Rainbow Bridge at the lower end of North Star Preserve. The slow current of the river in this section acts like a lazy river, perfect for paddle boarding, kayaking and tubing.

Two popular SUP destinations near the top of Independence Pass include Lost Man Reservoir, 11 miles east of Aspen, and Grizzly Reservoir, about 9 miles east of Aspen down Lincoln Creek Road. Down valley, Reudi Reservoir also offers two prime launch points - either at the boat ramp or around the reservoir at Dearhammer Campground.

Additional SUP spots can be found down valley on the Colorado River once the flow has slowed. Grizzly to South Canyon is West Glenwood is a favorite of many, but there are quite a few waves in South Canyon, so you better be on your game! While most local SUP is do-it-yourself, there are professional guide companies available to hire. Contact the Frias concierge desk at (970) 429-2449 to get more information, or to book an outing with a professional guide service.


Ready to take the plunge? The Devil's Punchbowl is a natural swimming hole along the Roaring Fork River just east of Aspen along Highway 82. Carved out of rock by the river, the Devil's Punchbowl has a nearly 20-foot-high ledge that's perfect for jumping into the waters below. When open for jumping, it is an exhilarating thrill that cannot be matched. Cliff jumping is dangerous, and the Devil's Punchbowl can be off limits during the early part of the summer when the water is high and cold. Safety first! There are no signs limiting river usage, so your best judgement is required. Rivers and natural swimming holes can be unpredictable with unseen risks.


OK, so maybe you're not ready (or old enough) for cliff jumping? No worries, there's plenty of safe fun right in town at Herron Park, Rio Grande Park and the John Denver Sanctuary. Slow-water sections of the Roaring Fork River between Herron Park and the old Aspen Art Museum are perfect for wading and floating.

The City of Aspen has also built a new children's pool between Rio Grande Park and the John Denver Sanctuary. It's a great spot for toddlers and young children to play in the shallow water. Rio Grande Park is the largest park in town, and features a skate park, rugby field and basketball courts. The adjacent John Denver Sanctuary is a beautiful park dedicated to the late singer, and has large engraved stones and a perfect location along the Roaring Fork River.


Aspen guests who book lodging through Frias Properties also have options right outside their vacation rental. Many condominium complexes have heated outdoor pools and hot tubs, and some private home and condominium rentals have private hot tubs. Our guests with children love the added feature, and a dip in the hot tub is quite relaxing after a day of outdoor activity. All Frias guests receive complimentary passes to local health club facilities. The Aspen Recreation Center, one of these options, has an amazing indoor pool facility with a water slide and lazy river. Your kids will love it, and there's professional fitness equipment available for those who are looking for a serious workout.

Ready to get wet in Aspen? Browse our vacation rentals or request more information by filling out a brief from or calling local vacation specialists at (800) 633-0336.