Why did it take us so long to visit?
Colorado has many beautiful locations to visit with many of them being just a few hours or so away from Northern Colorado.
After years of living in Colorado my husband and I took our very first trip to Aspen/Snowmass, and The Maroon Bells. We are kicking ourselves for not visiting this area of Colorado sooner.
The drive is about 4 1/2 hours from Northern Colorado. On our way there, we drove on I-70 through the mountains to Glenwood Springs and then up to Aspen. However, on our way home we drove over Independence Pass. The both drives are beautiful but drive home over the pass was extra special. I personally, love to drive through the mountains so any getaway, is a good getaway, for me.
Once in Aspen, it is absolutely amazing. It is truly a gem of a location. The area is surrounded be mountain peaks and there are 3 ski areas to enjoy. The lush green trees and rivers surround the town. There are tons of location to go golfing, fishing, and hiking. It is an outdoor enthuses dream. We were there at the beginning of summer and the Aspen trees were bright green, however, in the fall the yellow colors would be quite the sight to see.
The downtown area in Aspen is perfect for getting out and walking around. The architecture reminds me of a ski town meeting an old mining town, that is now totally up todays standards. There are beautiful shops to explore, galleries with lots of art work, and restaurants to enjoy. The downtown area also offers many lodging options for one to stay during their holiday.
We choose to stay out of town a little ways in Snowmass at The Westin Resort. The resort sits right on the slopes of the ski area. In the summer on Thursday evenings there is an outdoor concert series that takes place just outside of the resort. While we were there we were able to enjoy food and cocktails while listening to the music. It was a really nice unexpected treat. It was very quiet, other then the evening of the concert. We were in the mood for an easy going, quiet get away, so this was the perfect choice for us. There are also multiple options for dining and shopping at this location. The Westin is the ideal spot for ski on/ski off accommodations so keep it in mind for a wonderful ski weekend!
On our second day in the area we went to hike The Maroon Bells. We did plan this ahead of time so we did bring the appropriate clothing and gear for the hike. The Maroon Bells are located about 10ish miles outside of Aspen/Snowmass. The Maroon Bells are two very famous mountain peaks, located in The White River National Forest of Colorado. They are said to be the most photographed mountains in Colorado and when you see them in person, you understand why! The 14,000ft peaks are majestic and pictures do not do them justice. Although, well worth every picture you can possible take of them.
Access to The Maroon Bells is limited during the summer and fall months since it is such a popular destination. However, if you drive up prior to 8:00am, you can park in the day use lot. If you arrive after 8:00am, visitors must take the bus into the day use area. The main parking lot does have a lake and view of The Maroon Bells along with locations to picnic. For those who are not up for a hike going to the first lake is an option and still provides wonderful views and picture options.
We set off early for our hiking adventure which is smart to do, to miss the late afternoon storms that often take place. Most visitors hike to Crater Lake, this hike is about 3.6 miles round trip. The trail is very rocky so be sure to wear the correct shoes. The trail is not too difficult as long as you have good shoes, but the elevation is high so make sure to take your time. The views of the mountain peaks, aspen trees, and rushing creeks are impressive so remind yourself to stop look around and enjoy every moment.
Once at Crater Lake the picture taking opportunities are endless. There is a trail that raps around the edge of the lake and allows visitors to pear into the crystal clear water. You can see all the way to the bottom and the changing colors are spectacular. Many visitors will make Crater Lake their destination so if you venture past the lake and continue on, there are few hikers on the trail.
We continued our hike up the mountain for another 4ish miles. with the round trip hike being about 10-11miles. Our destination was a specific view point however, we hit snow fields around 13,000ft which made the terrain difficult. We hiked the trail in late June almost July and there was a ton of snow still. We heard that the snow usually clears around the middle of July completely. If we would of had snow shoes we would have been able to make it to our destination.
We ended up picking a spot on a peak clear of snow to sit down and enjoy our lunch. As we sat there we just soaked it all in. I can not tell you have many times we remarked on the incredible beauty surrounding us. I think it was about every other sentence. I have personally been fortunate to travel quite a bit…this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!
After we returned to the resort from our hike we were able to relax in the swimming pool and hot tub. The pool and hot tub at The Westin are located directly on the ski slopes which during this time of year are covered in bright green grass. It was the perfect end to a magnificent day.
The following day we drove home over Independence Pass, which had just opened for the season. The top crest at over 12,000ft and is above tree line. The road is narrow and curvy as it climbs the mountain. It is another amazing adventure and well worth the time. Along the road there is the Old Independence Mining town which is now a ghost town. There are trails to walk on to see the old buildings and the history of the area. As the drive raps up the mountains there are multiple spots to stop and enjoy the views.
I would recommend a visit to Aspen/Snowmass, The Maroon Bells, and Independence pass to everyone!!! My husband and I can not believe that it has taken us this long to visit. In the 2 nights/3 days we visited we just barely touched the surface of the area has to offer.
We are already planning to visit again next summer and this time we will take our family with us. We are also looking forward to visiting during the winter to go skiing. I can’t wait to go back again and share it with all the people we love.
This location in Colorado that is a…MUST SEE!