One of the best things about living in Aspen is leaving. It’s counterintuitive, I know, but taking a vacation and then getting to come home to Aspen feels like cheating. As the coronavirus pandemic and resulting quarantine have taught us, the opposite is also true, not leaving Aspen is amazing too. When circumstances out of your control — say a global pandemic — preclude any overseas exploits, it’s time to take advantage of all that Aspen has to offer. While many travel itineraries to far flung locales were recently thwarted, there are plenty of exotic endeavors right here in our backyard to satisfy our thirst for adventure. These activities that we often overlook as locals, or save for a “special occasion,” are precisely what make staycation season amazing. Your foreign trip may have been cancelled but fear not, It’s the perfect time to be a tourist in your own town.

Find Your Forest

Lost Forest Canopy Tour
Lost Forest Canopy Tour

A canopy tour of the Amazon Jungle sounds amazing, with its famed biodiversity and 16,000 species of trees, but hopping a flight to Manaus wouldn’t be prudent right now. There aren’t any monkeys, but the Lost Forest on Snowmass will get you up amongst evergreens for some leafy delights. Located at the summit of the Elk Camp Gondola, the Lost Forest includes numerous adrenaline juicing options for the whole family. The Treeline Trials Challenge Course, which winds its way through 5 levels of ropes, suspension bridges and obstacles, is not for the faint of heart or height averse. And while the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster has brakes—it doesn’t mean you have to use them.

The Lost Forest

Shoot the Falls

Rafting near Aspen
Rafting near Aspen

There’s no going to Zambia to challenge the notorious Ghostrider rapid on the Zambezi River this year, but you can find stomach dropping whitewater action right here on the Roaring Fork. A freestone stream, the Fork is unimpeded by dams or other manmade structures, flowing seasonally at levels directly proportional to runoff and snowmelt at higher elevations. In spring and early summer, rising temperatures create conditions that are ripe for white water rafting, with the biggest thrills found at the Slaughterhouse Falls just outside of town. Featuring a Class IV rapid, Slaugtherhouse is one of the sickest sections of whitewater found in Colorado, as the name implies. A number of local outfits provide guides, wetsuits and all the gear for your river adventure—just be prepared to paddle hard and follow directions.

Kiwi Adventure Ko

Elk Mountain Expeditions

Aspen Expeditions

Cast a Fly

Trout fishing near Aspen, Colorado
Trout fishing near Aspen, Colorado

You won’t be hooking any Arctic char at the base of the Nefji Waterfall in Iceland anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight some primetime fish closer to home. “Gold Medal” fisheries are those deemed capable of producing 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least twelve trout measuring 14” or larger per acre. With the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers both within casting distance, Aspen has more gold medal water than Michael Phelps’ pool. As summer progresses and the aforementioned snowmelt subsides, the trout get active and the fishing gets really good. With the help of local guides, anglers can perfect their technique, select the correct flies and wade or float into ideal trout habitats.

The Little Nell Summer Adventures

Aspen Outfitting Company

Aspen Flyfishing

Fling a Disc

Disc golf at Snowmass
Disc golf at Snowmass

I am not 100% sure that people travel for disc golf, but if you do, a round at the Järva DiscGolfPark in Stockholm is certainly out of the question in the near future. Everything is copacetic though, Aspen Snowmass is home to not one, but two high-elevation disc golf courses. At over 11,000’ the Aspen Mountain course is the highest in the country. With holes that descend, traverse and ascend some of your favorite ski runs, it is a challenging round that will test your skills as well as your stamina. The Aerial Approach course in Snowmass is a bit more beginner friendly and well suited for a round with the family. Grab some discs at Ute Mountaineer or rent a set from Four Mountain Sports and hit the tee.

Aerial Approach

Drive to the Green

Golf at Snowmass
Golf at Snowmass

This won’t be the year for a sojourn to Scotland to duff it up in the birthplace of golf, but you can straighten out your slice right here in the Valley. Air is less dense at altitude, and while this fact can prove challenging for aerobic activities, it is great for golf. Golf shots typically see an increase of 2.5 yards of carry per 1,000’ of altitude gain. At the Aspen Golf Club that equates to 20-yard longer drives, an enormous ego boost regardless of your handicap. The Parkland style course, featuring undulating terrain and abundant water features, offers picturesque views of the surrounding peaks and valleys from every hole. Aspen Golf Club is also home to the Dede Cusimano Golf Academy which provides instruction to players of all levels from a world-class instructor that tied for 40th place in the United States Senior Women's Open Championship last year.

Aspen Golf Club

Saddle Up

Horseback riding near Aspen
Horseback riding near Aspen

Herding cattle in the shadow of Tungurahua alongside Chilean gauchos sounds amazing, unfortunately it will have to wait for another time. Aspen doesn’t have an active stratovolcano, but you can get plenty saddle-sore riding with local cowboys. Rides of varying lengths, from a one-hour jaunt to an overnight excursion to Crested Butte, can be booked through local outfitters. Trust me, you’ll feel much more confident about that cowboy hat once you’ve successfully ridden single-track switchbacks on a thousand-pound stallion.

Maroon Bells Outfitters at T Lazy 7 Ranch

Independence Pass Outfitting

The Limelight Hotel's Staycation Deal

Limelight Hotel Snowmass staycation deal
Limelight Hotel Snowmass staycation deal

Both the Limelight Hotel Aspen and Limelight Hotel Snowmass are offering this summer an expanded Colorado Locals’ Rate. Make sure to take advantage of it as a local. From Aspen to Silt, and beyond, all of Colorado can come to enjoy their unique, playful form of hospitality. Discounts on Deluxe Rooms are just the beginning.

Get the deets from each hotel below.

Limelight Aspen
Limelight Snowmass

About the Author

Oliver Sharpe, contributor to AspenSnowmass.com
Oliver Sharpe, contributor to AspenSnowmass.com

OLIVER SHARPE

Oliver Sharpe is a content creator across multiple mediums primarily focused on snacks, travel and leisure pursuits. He is an Emmy-winning television producer and the host of "Après," on Aspen 82. Loves pancakes, hates clowns and only lives to get radical.

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