by Celine Wright

At exactly 11:43 a.m. on August 21, you better be in your best eclipse-watching spot. Just before lunch on Monday the streets of Aspen Snowmass will crowd as people watch the moon briefly obstruct the sun and cast its shadow on the U.S.


Citizens from Alaska to Hawaii and everywhere in between will experience a partial solar eclipse (where the sun is partially blocked by the moon) while a 70-mile wide, 3,000-mile long zone will experience the fleeting total solar eclipse (the sun is completely blocked by the moon). In Aspen, the moon will obscure 88.8% of the sun: check out the exact time and positioning with this handy graphic from Vox.


The natural phenomenon is something worth beholding as shadows become sharper, the light changes to a blue-gray and temperatures drop a bit. Don’t forget to bring eye protection, too!


Here are some of our recommended places to check out the (brief) action in Aspen:


GO FOR A HIKE

Where’s a better place to view the sky than up in the mountains?


Some local favorite trails include American Lake (trailhead up Castle Creek road), Lost Man Loop (trailhead up Independence Pass) and Sunnyside (trailhead on McClain Flats Road). An early-morning start will ensure that you miss the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms.

Check out our Hiking Guide for more info.

EAT LUNCH AL-FRESCO

Even if you have to reserve your table at 11:30 a.m., eating lunch outside is an easy way to catch the action. These dining options have ideal outdoor patios:


Aspen Kitchen

Their outdoor rooftop patio is the perfect place to enjoy a Red Mountain Bloody Mary and some Clothesline Bacon (served on a tiny clothesline).


Ajax Tavern

It’s hard to miss this patio right next to the Silver Queen Gondola. Order yourself an Ajax Double Cheeseburger and don’t forget the sunscreen.


White House Tavern

With only a few tables outside, you better hurry up and get one! Treat yourself to old-fashioned deviled eggs and one of their infamous fried-chicken sandwiches.

LOUNGE IN A PARK

Bring a book, a blanket, and some sunglasses and get ready to lounge in the sun and watch the eclipse.


Mollie Gibson Park (Smuggler Park)

This local favorite at the base of the Smuggler trailhead manages to remain pretty quiet, especially on a Monday morning.


Wagner Park

Centrally-located, you’re just steps from a playground, a fountain and plenty of dining options. This one is great for kids.


John Denver Sanctuary

Wander the neatly maintained paths and scope the wildflowers. Admission to the sanctuary is $1.50.

ANYTHING GOES...

Ride the gondola

Buy a day pass for the Silver Queen Gondola and enjoy the views. At the top—aside from eclipse watching— you can play disc golf, tackle the obstacle course, and have lunch at the Sundeck. Check out our summer gondola + lift ride page for more info.

Go for a paddleboard

Secure those paddleboards to your roof and head toward Independence Pass, just east of Aspen. Park at the Wildwood School (fingers crossed there’s parking, or else you need to hitch a ride) and float to the lower end of Northstar Preserve. Leave a car at the takeout so you can shuttle, and enjoy the scenic, calm paddle.

Hit the pavement (or dirt)

Whether you’re an avid road cyclist, or beginning mountain biker, there are plenty of options to get up high and eclipse-watch during your ride. For road cyclists a pedal up Castle Creek Road gives you plenty of options to gaze up — and enjoy lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. For mountain bikers Sky Mountain Park is a must do, and promises, you guessed it, unparalleled views of the sky and the Aspen landscape. Need to rent a bike? Check out more info here.