Aspen Colorado, Facts
Population: 5,000 (Aspen Village)
Elevation: 7,937 ft.
Location: 31/2 - 4 hours west and slightly south of Denver in northwestern Colorado. Entry into Aspen involves crossing mountain passes from any direction. In winter, if driving into the area, have 4 wheel drive and snow tires available on your vehicle. Alternative: Take the airport shuttle from Denver.
Time Zone: Mountain Standard Time zone: (When it is 11:00am in New York City; it is 9:00am in Aspen. Daylight savings time is observed from April-October.)
Weather: 303-398-3964 for hourly updates
January 33F 6F
February 37F 8F
March 42F 15F
April 53F 24F
May 64F 32F
June 73F 37F
July 80F 44F
August 78F 42F
September 71F 35F
October 60F 28F
November 44F 15F
December 37F 8F
Summer begins in late June or early July. Days are warm, but nighttime temperatures fall to the 40s and 50s. Afternoon thunderstorms are common over the higher peaks. Fall begins in September, often with a week of unsettled weather around mid-month, followed by four-six weeks of cooler nights and warm days. Winter arrives in during November, with deep snows by December. Temperatures are close to freezing by day, under a surprisingly warm mountain sun, and drop way down at night, occasionally as low as
-60° F. Winter is less intense by in March, but there is often a considerable accumulation of snow into April on valley bottoms and into July on mountain passes
Northwest Colorado is a place of sudden weather changes. One minute it may be sunny and the next, snowing, and later raining. Summer attractions may even be closed due to snow. Most mountain towns shut down after the ski season until mid-June and again from Labor Day until the new ski season starts. Always call ahead to avoid disappointment.
Sunscreen is essential at high altitudes, even in the winter months.
New Year's Day Jan. 1
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 3rd Mon. in Jan.
President's Day 3rd Mon. in Feb.
Memorial Day last Mon. in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Mon. in Sept.
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dec. 24 and 25
New Year's Eve Dec. 31
Aspen Airport ASE 0233 E. Airport Rd., 970/920-5385 is served daily by United Express, America West Express/Mesa, and Northwest Express/Mesaba from Denver, and has nonstop United service from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago in ski season.
Denver International Airport 8500 Pena Blvd., 800/247-2336, is served by most major domestic carriers and many international ones. International flights arrive in Denver, where passengers can board connecting flights to Aspen. The airport code is DEN.
Some sample flying times to Denver are: 4 hours from New York, 21⁄2 hours from Chicago, and 21⁄4 hours from Los Angeles.
Transfers Between the Airport and Town
Roaring Fork Transit Agency 970/925-8484 provides bus service from Aspen Airport to the Ruby Park bus station in Aspen. High Mountain Taxi 970/925-8294 or 800/528-8294 runs trips to Denver, Glenwood Springs, and Vail. Colorado Mountain Express 970/949-4227 or 800/525-6353 runs trips to Vail and Aspen.
Aspen's airport is about a 10-minute drive from the city center on Route 82.
Greyhound Lines 800/231-2222 offers regular service from Denver to several towns along I-70, including Aspen.
If you're entering Colorado from the north or south, take I-25, which intersects with I-70 in Denver. If you're entering from the east or west, take I-70, which bisects the state, to Route 82 and then turn south to Aspen/Snowmass. Generally speaking, driving to Aspen from Denver in the winter is more trouble than it's worth, unless you are on an extended vacation and plan to stop at other resorts such as Vail or Copper Mountain. With Independence Pass closed in the winter, the drive takes more than three hours at best, depending on road and weather conditions.
The Roaring Fork Transit Agency 970/925-8484 provides free shuttle service within Aspen and between Aspen and Snowmass. Within Snowmass there is free shuttle service; five colored flags denote the various routes.
Modern highways make mountain driving safe and generally trouble free even in cold weather. Although winter driving can occasionally present some real challenges, road maintenance is good and plowing is prompt. However, in mountain areas, tire chains, studs, or snow tires are essential. If you're planning to drive into high elevations, be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. Even the mountain passes on main highways can be forced to close because of snow conditions. Be prepared for stormy weather: Carry an emergency kit containing warm clothes, a flashlight, some food, and perhaps a sleeping bag. It's also good to carry a cellular phone. Be aware, however, that because of the mountains cell phones don't work everywhere. If you should become stranded never leave your vehicle. Instead wait until someone comes looking for you. Most roads are routinely patrolled and plowed.
Rates in Denver begin at about $35 a day and $180 a week for an economy car with air-conditioning, an automatic transmission, and unlimited mileage. This does not include tax on car rentals, which is 11.3%. Aspen car rental rates can be double what you'll find in Denver.
In Colorado you must be 21 to rent a car, and rates may be higher if you're under 25. You'll pay extra for child seats about $3 per day, which are compulsory for children under five, and for additional drivers about $2 per day. Non-U.S. residents will need a reservation voucher, a passport, a driver's license, and a travel policy that covers each driver, in order to pick up a car.
The Rockies offer some of the most spectacular vistas and challenging driving in the world. Roads range from multilane blacktop to barely graveled backcountry trails; from twisting switchbacks considerately marked with guardrails to primitive campgrounds with a lane so narrow that you must back up to the edge of a steep cliff to make a turn. Scenic routes and lookout points are clearly marked, enabling you to slow down and pull over to take in the views.
High Mountain Taxi 970/925-8294.
Most retail stores are open from 9 AM or 9:30 AM until 6 PM or 7 PM daily in downtown locations and until 9 or 10 in suburban shopping malls. Downtown stores sometimes stay open later Thursday night. Normal banking hours are weekdays 9-5; some branches are also open on Saturday morning.
Arriving in the United States
contact the U.S. Customs Service inquiries, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229, 202/927-6724
The U.S. electrical standard is 110 volts/60 cycles AC. Foreign visitors traveling with dual-voltage appliances will not need a converter, but they will need a plug adapter. The standard U.S. electrical outlet takes a plug of two flat pins set parallel to one another.
Ambulance 911. Fire 911. Police 911.
Hospital Emergency Rooms
Aspen Valley Hospital 0401 Castle Creek Rd., 970/925-1120.
The state sales tax in Colorado is 3%. In addition, Aspen levies a local 5.2% sales tax.
Regardless of the outdoor activity or your level of skill, safety must come first. Remember: know your limits!
Many trails are at high altitudes, where oxygen is scarce. They're also frequently desolate. Hikers and bikers should carry emergency supplies in their backpacks. Proper equipment includes a flashlight, a compass, waterproof matches, a first-aid kit, a knife, and a light plastic tarp for shelter. Backcountry skiers should add a repair kit, a blanket, an avalanche beacon, and a lightweight shovel to their lists. Always bring extra food and a canteen of water as dehydration is a common occurrence at high altitudes. Never drink from streams or lakes, unless you boil the water first or purify it with tablets -- giardia, an intestinal parasite, may be present.
Always check the condition of roads and trails, and get the latest weather reports before setting out. In summer, take precautions against heat stroke or exhaustion by resting frequently in shaded areas; in winter, take precautions against hypothermia by layering clothing. Ultimately, proper planning, common sense, and good physical conditioning are the strongest guards against the elements.
You may feel dizzy and weak and find yourself breathing heavily -- signs that the thin mountain air isn't giving you your accustomed dose of oxygen. Take it easy and rest often for a few days until you're acclimatized. Throughout your stay drink plenty of water and watch your alcohol consumption. If you experience severe headaches and nausea, see a doctor. It is easy, especially in Colorado, where highways climb to 12,000 ft and higher, to go too high too fast. The remedy for altitude-related discomfort is to go down quickly, into heavier air. Other altitude-related problems include dehydration and overexposure to the sun due to the thin air.
The country code for the United States is 1. The area code for Aspen is 970.
All U.S. telephone numbers consist of 10 digits -- the three-digit area code, followed by a seven-digit local number. If you're calling a number from another area-code region, dial "1" then all 10 digits. For calls within the same local calling area, just dial the seven-digit number. A map of U.S. area codes is printed in the front of most local telephone directories.
At restaurants, a 15% tip is standard for waiters; up to 20% may be expected at more expensive establishments. The same goes for taxi drivers, bartenders, and beauticians. Coat-check operators usually expect $1; bellhops and porters should get 50 cents to $1 per bag; hotel maids in upscale hotels should get about $1 per day of your stay.
Summary of Features of Aspen Ski Areas
Aspen Highlands: 3,635-ft vertical drop; 675 skiable acres; 20% beginner, 33% intermediate, 47% advanced; 2 high-speed quad chairs, 1 triple chair, 3 double chairs. Aspen Mountain: 3,267-ft vertical drop; 675 skiable acres; 35% intermediate, 35% advanced, 30% expert; 1 4-passenger gondola, 1 high-speed quad chair, 2 quad chairs, 4 double chairs.
Buttermilk: 2,030-ft vertical drop; 420 skiable acres; 35% beginner, 39% intermediate, 26% advanced; 1 high-speed quad chair, 5 double chairs, 1 surface lift.
Snowmass: 4,206-ft vertical drop; 2,655 skiable acres; 10% beginner, 52% intermediate, 18% advanced, 20% expert; 17 lifts.
When to Go
Ski resorts are busiest from December to early April, especially during Christmas and President's holiday weeks.
Spring is a good time for fishing, rafting on rivers swollen with snowmelt, and bird and wildlife-viewing. In fall, aspen trees splash the mountainsides with gold, and wildlife come down to lower elevations. The fish are spawning, and the angling is excellent.