One of the great things about vising Aspen is no matter the time of the year, there is something beautiful to see. And depending on the season, whatever the sight may be, it will appear different in each season. Aspen has four distinct seasons with incredibly different climates. Take a picture of a park in August and you won't recognize that same park in February; however, that doesn't mean it isn't just as beautiful at both times of the year.
With spring upon us and temperatures warming, there are a few sights that shouldn't be missed on a spring trip to Aspen. Here are our top five spring sights in Aspen. And when they've got you hooked, we've got some great properties that get great spring sun for your stay!
1) Maroon Bells
Okay, we know... the Bells make EVERY list, EVERY time. But when they do make those lists, they're generally accompanied by a photo of the majestic mountains either in the heart of the summer or in the fall when the trees still have their colors. But we think the spring is a can't-miss time to take in these 14 thousand-foot peaks. Generally speaking, the most snow that will ever be adorning these mountains each year will be toward the end of winter / early spring, and that's when the mountains themselves are most beautiful. The striated layers that rise into the clouds are splendid covered in white. It's when they evoke a feeling of the magical. If you can catch that reflection in Maroon Lake, you're in for a treat. And if you're around late in the spring, you may even be able to catch the bright green buds just popping out on the trees surrounding the lake.
2) Sunset from the Sundeck
During the spring skiing season, Aspen Skiing Company keeps the mountain open longer on Fridays. The gondola and Ajax express lifts will run until 6:00 PM giving people the opportunity to watch the sun lower in the western sky while skiing longer than any other time during the season. On top of that, the Sundeck at the top of the mountain will stay open until 9:00 PM serving drinks and food along with live music for entertainment. If you're not interested in skiing, you can get a $10 foot pass to get up the gondola after 4:00 PM. Seeing the sun set over the Roaring Fork Valley from 11,200 feet with an unobstructed view is one of the most surreal things a person can witness. Skiing into that sight takes it one step further.
3) Grottos on the Roaring Fork River
Independence Pass may be closed for car passage from October to May every year, but that doesn't mean you can't figure out how to navigate the few closed miles closest to Aspen for a beautiful sight. The Grottos are rock formations and sculpted boulders that have been carved by the river over thousands of years. The ice caves that have formed as a result of the glacial activity are even more spectacular in the winter and spring. From the winter gate closure, it's three miles to the Grottos. Cross country skiing is the easiest way to travel those few miles, but snowmobile tours, snowshoeing, or simply walking will get you there as well. You'll pass frozen crystal blue waterfalls and snowy vistas on your way, but what you'll really notice is how much water is flowing through the river at this time of year. Spring means snowmelt and no where is more snow melting than up on the mountains up the pass. The river will be raging and the snow bubbles that form on the sides of the river are truly stunning.
4) Birding at Hallam Lake
Spring is when the singing of the local birds really picks up. With the longer daylight hours, more and more birds emerge looking for food and activity increases in the pre-breeding season. Excitement among our local bird population is in full swing in the spring. ACES (Aspen Center for Environmental Studies) has a birding program at the organization's Hallam Lake location in downtown Aspen that allows for viewing and identification of local bird species. With the absence of summer foliage, sighting a nuthatch, woodpecker, or other songbird is easier. Birding opportunities at ACES exist weekly for ACES member, and non-members can enjoy an intro class on April 3rd from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM.
5) John Denver Sanctuary
Due to its location on the north side of town, the John Denver Sanctuary gets some of the most sun in the spring of anywhere in town. This makes for some of the more pleasant strolls during the spring months of anywhere in town, as well. And because of the sun, some of the first flower buds of the season often pop up in or around John Denver Sanctuary. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this meticulously crafted park that serves as a tribute to one of Aspen's most beloved sons. The walk-over streams and beautiful flora and fauna start to come alive in the spring and shouldn't be missed if in Aspen for a visit.