Sprinkled throughout Aspen exist more than 30 public parks. All are maintained by the Aspen Parks and Recreation Department. You’ll find them both nooked into tiny hidden corners of town and largely on display in the heart of bustling pedestrian areas. Some are great for kids with swing sets and playgrounds and others are perfect for romantic picnics with your loved one.

Water is a feature of many with the river and ponds, some allow dogs to run off the leash, others host children’s soccer games on weekends, and some are rentable for planned events like birthday parties, reunions and weddings. A full list and map of the parks in Aspen is available at aspenrecreation.com, but here are our top five not to miss while in Aspen.

1. Herron Park

Herron Park is located on the east side of town and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike, especially those with children. A small flow of the Roaring Fork River is diverted to trickle through the park giving children a mild, shallow water area to play. Large boulders make for great climbing and little islands give parents a place to watch from. The park also boasts two swing sets, one with a traditional rubber “U” for seats and one with the buckets perfect for toddlers. A giant playset is also in the mix with a slide, bridges, ladders, and more. Herron Park also has three picnic tables and multiple benches for picnics and gatherings. The Rio Grande trail begins in Herron Park so runners, bikers, and walkers often make their way through it.

2. Koch Park

Koch Park hosts the championship courts of the MotherLode volleyball tournament that has been going on in Aspen for 45 years. But when the hard core competitors aren’t bumping, setting, and spiking, the sand provides a great place for recreation lovers of all ilks. Kids can bring their sand toys to the park for “beach days," casual volleyball players can hone their skills, and other beach games like paddle ball, spike ball and good old fashioned catch are great in the sand. Grass does surround the sand courts and picnic tables allow for group picnics under some large-growth trees.
Above: John Denver Sanctuary Park. ©Williamson Photography

3. Glory Hole Park

This quaint park (pictured at the top of this article) is east to miss in the southeast corner of Aspen, but once you find the flowing water and picturesque pond, you won’t want to leave. One of the oldest parks in town, Glory Hole park was named for a sinkhole that formed in 1918 when part of a silver mine collapsed. The pond is loved by dogs looking for a cool dip in the hot summer months and the picnic tables make it perfect for a romantic meal in the park. It’s also a great stop for sitting in the shade after a hike up the nearby Ute Trail.

4. Wagner Park

Wagner Park hosts the iconic Grand Tasting Tent at the annual Food and Wine Classic. This takes the otherwise public park out of the running for a few weeks each summer, but when not in use by the foodies, it’s one of the largest parks in town, the most centrally located, and one of the most used. Dogs are able to get up to speed due to the size and their humans can take in the sprawling views of Aspen Mountain. Little humans will love the creative play structure that will keep them entertained for hours and their parents will love the multiple restaurants that overlook the playground and park that feature outdoor patios perfect for grabbing a bite or a beverage while keeping an eye on the littles.
Above: John Denver Sanctuary Park. ©Williamson Photography

5. John Denver Sanctuary Park

Named for Aspen lover and music icon John Denver, this park sits right on the Roaring Fork River and is the perfect place for reflection. Denver’s lyrics are etched in many of the stones around the park giving visitors a chance to stop, read, and reflect on their time in Aspen and what the Rocky Mountains mean to them. Some of the most beautiful gardens are maintained in the John Denver Park and water features, ponds, streams and ways to navigate them all abound in this serene atmosphere.

Bonus: Rio Grande Park

The Rio Grande Park is adjacent to the John Denver Park directly to its south over the Rio Grande Trail. This dog-friendly park is one of the largest in town and hosts many children’s games both organized and spontaneous.

About the Author

Nicole Birkhold
Nicole Birkhold

NICOLE BIRKHOLD

With nothing but a pair of skis and a journalism degree from Michigan State University, Nicole headed west looking for mountains, snow, and someone to pay her to put words to paper. She found the writing gig in Freeskier Magazine for ten years, but needed to be closer to the mountains to she packed it up and came to Aspen where she still crafts words but with more time on the snow.