Autumn in Aspen

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Some of you will be shocked by this, but up until last week I had only experienced Autumn in California…that means no bright falling leaves or chilly evenings. The closest thing to fall we get is a bit of morning fog! So you can imagine my extreme bewilderment while experiencing real Autumn for my first time last weekend in Aspen! I think we timed it perfectly because every tree looked aflame in orange and red, and even the mountain tops were dusted with the first snow of the season. It was truly magical.

The main reason for the trip was to attend a really fun ski industry event called “The Meeting,” but I managed to squeeze in a lot of outdoor fun as well! Here is an overview of what we did in Aspen and my favorite things along the way!

“The Meeting”
The meeting is a Snowsports Industry get-together to celebrate and build the winter stoke. The action-packed weekend includes multiple ski movie showings, a fashion show, live music, industry conferences, and plenty of opportunities to network. You will no doubt rub elbows with snowsports filmmakers, athletes, industry insiders, marketing professionals, media, and lots of fans. You can buy tickets for the entire conference or just for the evening film showings and concerts if you like. It’s basically the largest, coolest hodgepodge of ski bums and media professionals all converging in one of the most beautiful ski towns in the world.

The Limelight Hotel
I’ve stayed at this hotel a couple times now and I love everything about it. It’s a really nice hotel without the hoity-toityness of a nice hotel. It has a great ski town culture, a historic legacy in Aspen, and great environmental consciousness to protect the long-term sustainability of the Roaring Fork Valley. It’s located downtown so you can walk anywhere in Aspen. The rooms and the hot tubs are wonderful, but my favorite thing about The Limelight is the breakfast buffet! I am really serious about my breakfast…really serious. Every morning you can walk into the lobby and have your choice in eggs, meats, waffles fresh off the griddle, a parfait station, fruit, and a wide variety of baked goods. This may be no-big-deal to the hotel frequenter…but I just love breakfast!

Hikes

  • Rim Trail in Snowmass:
    Snowmass is a 20 minute drive out of Aspen and a great place for a day trip. The rim trail loop is 6.8 miles of moderate hiking on mostly single track. At the top of the trail you arrive at a large Ying-Yang marble cement slab surrounded by the remarkable mountain ridge views.
  • Aspen Mountain Summer Road: 
    This is a steep but incredibly scenic dirt road with views of Aspen and lots of chairlifts. We hiked up part of the way and then found a single track path that lead us right back down into town.
  •  Smuggler Mountain:
    This hike offers more incredible views of Aspen, and while steep, is a relatively short hike (3 miles round trip). I think I fell in love with about 5 different dogs on this trail.

Maroon Bells:
These are supposedly the most photographed mountains in the Northern U.S. and well-worth the tourist trap. It’s a beautiful and quick drive up to Maroon Lake, which reflects the jagged mountain peaks of the Maroon Bells. It’s one of those magical landscapes that will hold a spot in your memory for the rest of your life.

Where to Eat:

  • Big Wrap (casual): This is a healthy wrap to-go restaurant on E. Durant Ave that’s super affordable (a rare thing in Aspen) and yummy!
  • Matsuhisa (fancy): Best Sushi in town. And not the usual rolls…I don’t even think we had rolls. It was the real deal and the best lobster I’ve had in a long time. Every plate is an experience in itself.
  • Paradise Bakery (sweets): A seriously impressive bakery with ice cream. Amazing flavor choices, the enticing baked goods. Sample plates too :)

The Belly-Up
A classic music venue that is definitely worth a visit! And it’s not your average ski town jam band in a small, smelly bar. The Belly-Up is an established venue (with another popular location in Solana Beach) that brings in big-name acts that normally wouldn’t play in such a little town. The environment can vary from a laid-back rock’n’roll band with an older crowd, to a bass-blasting DJ dance party that goes until 2am. You’re most likely going to find one show you like if you browse through the diverse weekly schedule!

And that’s about all I could squeeze in for one weekend! (Any other remaining free time was filled hot-tub sessions!) Here are some photos from the trip! I’m sure many of you have lots more recommendations for cool places in Aspen! Share with me in the comments section below!

Photos by Abe Kislevitz, Catherine Aepell, and Christine Donaldson.

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Big thanks to several awesome brands for providing the gear in these photos: Oakley Women, Muk Luks, Aventura, and Epic Bar. Click on the items below to buy!

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