There’s good reason why dreams of being able to fly are so awesome and bird’s-eye views tend to be so magnificent — a perspective of the landscape from the air affords expansive views and altogether unique points of view. Rising high above the valley floor to take in the spectacular mountainscape of Aspen Snowmass is no exception. With these soaring ideals in mind, here are some recommendations on how you can rise above it all and see the sights Aspen Snowmass from the sky.

A Lot of Hot Air

Flightseeing near Snowmass, Colorado
Flightseeing near Snowmass, Colorado

Imagine the peace and serenity of drifting quietly over neighborhoods and forests, watching the sun rise and spread over the landscape, and taking in the undulations and varied colors of the land beneath you like a massive 3D painting. That’s what it feels like in a hot air balloon ride, offered by local outfit Above It All Balloon Company.
Flights over Aspen Snowmass last about an hour and are offered at sunrise, when the air is the most calm and favorable for the balloons. Upon landing, guests are offered a champagne brunch.

You can even geek out on ballooning at the Snowmass Balloon Festival, Sept. 6-8, one of the highest-altitude hot air balloon events in the country that includes races and challenges for the professional balloon pilots and plenty of other spectator-friendly events and activities.

Spread Your Wings

Thrill-seekers with the guts to leap off a mountainside are invited to soar through the sky with Aspen Paragliding — though there’s no experience required to enjoy a tandem flight.

This very memorable adventure begins with a 4WD ride up Aspen Mountain to one of two launch areas, where early-morning flyers can catch a spectacular mountain sunrise. Your certified, experienced pilot will ensure you’re properly outfitted and instructed; then, once you’re both securely clipped in, it’s literally a running leap off the slope and into the air above Aspen for the approximately 15-minute flight, which feels much longer and offers amazing views of the city of Aspen and surrounding mountains.

Aspen Paragliding also operates in the winter, from Snowmass and Aspen ski areas.

Riding High

Perhaps the quickest and most affordable way to attain a mountaintop view is a gondola ride. Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen Gondola rises nearly 3,300 vertical feet in just 15 minutes, offering increasingly expansive views of surrounding mountains and a fun perspective on the townsite of Aspen as it recedes below. It’s also interesting for winter visitors to see what Aspen’s ski slopes look like laid bare. At the 11,200-foot summit is a viewing platform with viewing scopes and a detailed visual guide to the surrounding peaks, as well as a number of mountaintop activities and hiking trails leading to even more high views.
Silver Queen gondola sightseeing, Aspen, Colorado
Silver Queen gondola sightseeing, Aspen, Colorado

In Snowmass, the Elk Camp Gondola brings riders to the mid-mountain activity zone; combine it with a ride up the Elk Camp chairlift and you’ll attain the 11,325-foot summit, with its gorgeous views of the Maroon Bells, craggy cliffs, and mountain cirques, in less than 20 minutes.

Window-Seat Panoramas

If you’re flying into or out of Aspen Snowmass, all you need to do is pay attention (and ideally, have a window seat) for the first or last 10 minutes of the flight to enjoy sweeping views of Aspen Snowmass — and get a good idea of how glaciers carved the valleys and shaped the mountains of this area.

Flying private? Some pilots have a little more latitude than commercial carriers to take the scenic route. Locally based charter aircraft company Bubba Air (970-948-6609) is one of the few that can customize scenic tours.

Helicopter tours of the area are even less common — while no operators are currently based in Aspen Snowmass, there are companies from Denver and points west, including Gateway Canyons Air Tours, that offer custom flights out of the Aspen Snowmass airport. Any custom option, of course, comes at a high price.

About the Author

Catherine Lutz
Catherine Lutz

CATHERINE LUTZ

Catherine Lutz is an Aspen-based freelance writer and editor who helps craft stories and content for the Aspen Institute, Aspen Sojourner magazine, Powder magazine, and many others. An avid skier, paddleboarder, and mountain biker, she’s now vicariously experiencing a second childhood through her two young children in one of the best places on the planet to raise a family.

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