Aspen is awash in good energy after extending its ski season until April 26th, courtesy of an unusually late April blizzard that dropped mammoth amounts of powder on the hills. With temperatures back into the 60s and 70s, the spring skiing couldn’t have been better! One of the advantages of having a local mountain is people are more than willing to keep the lifts running if the snow gods have been especially generous. The extra two weekends of skiing and riding may very well have been the best snow of the season, so three cheers for the person who made the call to keep the mountain up and running!
Spring in Aspen is a special treat; clear blue mountain skies, rivers running high with crystalline water, alpine flowers and tree buds making their first blooms. The extra snow is a bonus—and a nice send off to the winter 2009 ski season. But if you’re like me, the first few warm days have me yearning for hitting the hiking trails and dusting off the bikes. If you haven’t seen Aspen in the spring, now is a great time to do it.
The best part about it is your won’t have to break the bank to enjoy a few days in the mountains. I’m a big fan of the Limelite Lodge, an affordable, family owned hotel in the heart of downtown Aspen. My border collie Talus is also a big fan because the Limelite is pet friendly! All the best restaurants and galleries are within easy walking distance as is Aspen Mountain (and numerous local hiking and snowshoeing trails). The only major complaint I have about the Limelite is the air hockey table is apparently cursed, as I have yet to win a single game there.
For my latest visit, I spent most of my time playing in the backcountry off of Independence Pass. I especially like working my way up to the ghost town of Independence in the winter, where the abandoned mining community has an especially stark feel to it. It’s hard to imagine Aspen as the hardscrabble mining town it was (until skiing was introduced in the late 1930s), but there is a certain connection to the past these ghost towns bring to life. Punching through the waist deep powder, I had to check back on my dog. At times only his little tail broke the surface of the snow like a furry periscope; of course when it’s time to go, he whines to keep tromping away in the powder. Again that’s the advantage of Aspen in the spring – this year there’s tons of snow and plenty of sunshine!
One more secret – while you have a plethora of dining options in Aspen, I think inhaling multiple plates of french fries at Boogie’s Diner has become my favorite post-snowshoe ritual. Follow that with an evening constitutional to poke my nose in the art galleries, a dip in the pool and hot tub back at the Limelite and I’ve got a smile on my face that will linger for the better part of a week!
Aspen Mountain photo and Limelight Lodge photo by James Dziezynski. Independence by Secondary Reality Photography.