The Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort with lights at night, during winter (the best time to visit Aspen)

The Best Time to Visit Aspen (in 2022)

The best time to visit Aspen, Colorado is from December through February. Summer is also an ideal time to visit Aspen and enjoy warm weather activities. 

I’m a Colorado local and I’m here to help you decide when to visit this beautiful mountain town! There are a variety of things to consider, like your budget and preferred itinerary.

Read on to discover the best times to visit Aspen for different activities, affordability, and fewer crowds. I also share when to visit for Aspen festivals and events, including a few personal favorites.

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When is the Best Time to Visit Aspen

December through February is the best time to visit Aspen for great skiing and a fun winter atmosphere. You can enjoy the four area ski resorts to their fullest, and downtown is full of people dining, drinking, and shopping. 

However, a beautiful mountain town like Aspen is wonderful to visit throughout the year! Let’s take a look at the best time to visit the Roaring Fork Valley, depending on what you prefer.

When to Visit Aspen for Great Skiing

Skiers on a ski lift in Alpine Springs

Aspen’s busy ski season is from December through February. Of course, snow totals can vary from year-to-year, but Aspen typically gets a steady amount of snow during these months. The holidays and winter breaks are an especially ideal time for families to visit. 

Aspen has four ski resorts in the area — Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort. Aspen Snowmass is the biggest, most popular resort. Aspen Mountain and Highlands are ideal for experienced skiers, while Buttermilk is great for beginners.

Even if you’re not a downhill skier, you’ll find several things to do in Aspen in winter. Consider snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ice skating at the luxurious Limelight Hotel Snowmass.

🚗 Getting Around: Aspen has busses to take you to and from the slopes, and many hotels offer transportation. There are also private transfer services to and from Aspen/Pitkin County Airport and Denver International Airport. However, many people prefer to rent a car and explore the surrounding area. 

When to Visit Aspen for Cheap Prices

Colorful view from Maroon Bells during fall season

Traveling to Aspen is more affordable after Labor Day in the fall and following spring snowmelt. If you really want to save some money, you can often camp until October without any snow. In my opinion, Aspen is one of the best places to camp in Colorado

Skiing continues into March and April, and you can take advantage of lower prices. Hotels, restaurants, and ski resorts tend to offer deals after the winter rush. 

However, the shoulder seasons bring a few challenges. Some Coloradans refer to the off-season as “mud season”, especially in the late spring, and that’s no joke! Outdoor activities are possible, but may be messy. 

Also, before the arrival of winter and summer crowds, some local businesses may close or reduce their hours. You may find hotel availability to be more limited, too. 

When to Visit Aspen for Warm Weather

A woman biking to Maroon Bells

June through September is the best time to visit Aspen for outdoor summer activities like hiking and mountain biking. By mid- to late June, hiking and biking trails are usually dried out and considerably less muddy than in the spring. 

The average summer temperatures in Aspen are highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. You’ll still want layers on your Colorado packing list, but it’s easy to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors during this time of year! 

 🛏️ Where to Stay: Browse a variety of Aspen-area hotels, from the most luxurious to the most budget-friendly!

When to Visit Aspen to Avoid Crowds

Colorful flowers on a parking lot in Snowmass Village in Aspen

Spring is the least-visited time in Aspen. Fall is a more popular shoulder season, because of the amazing leaf-peeping you can do in the area (it’s not called “Aspen” for nothing, you know!). Spring weather is just flat-out unpredictable — you can have a lovely, warm day followed by a snowstorm! By mid- to late spring, there’s usually not enough snow for skiing, but trails are muddy and wet.

However, if you don’t mind a little dirt, you can enjoy some of the best hiking trails in Colorado without any crowds. There are also lots of museums, galleries, and other indoor activities if you have a day of bad weather. 

When to Visit Aspen for Festivals

People watching a concert of Aspen Music Festival And School at the summit of Ajax Mountain
(photo: Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock)

Amazing festivals make summer one of the best times to visit Aspen. The Aspen Music Festival features more than 400 events and recitals from June through August. 

In June, the Aspen Ideas Festival features world leaders and new ideas in science, politics, business, and more. Come Labor Day weekend, Jazz Aspen Snowmass hosts several famous musicians at the gorgeous Snowmass Town Park. 

Aspen’s Four Travel Seasons

December through February

Colorful sky over the Elk Camp Summit
  • Gay Ski WeekThis January celebration is the oldest of its kind in the country. Along with skiing, there are events like happy hours, parties, and comedy and fashion shows. It also raises money for AspenOUT, which supports tolerance and anti-bullying programs. 
  • Winter X Games – In January, the X Games take place in Aspen and are free for spectators! You can watch almost 100 of the best winter athletes compete at Buttermilk Ski Resort. 
  • Wintersköl – Celebrate winter in Aspen with snow sculptures and fireworks each January. There are also fun races and tasty treats throughout the four-day event.

March through May

Scenic view from the Maroon Lake in Colorado
  • Bud Light Spring Jam – An early spring festival that features concerts, night-skiing, and even scavenger hunts around town.
  • Aspen Shortsfest – This film festival runs for a week in April. Check out 70 short films from over 30 countries and meet the filmmakers. 
  • Apres Ski Cocktail Classic – Aspen takes its after-ski experience just as seriously as the skiing! This spring weekend features tastings, craft cocktails, mixologist seminars, and pop-up bars.

June through Labor Day

A woman crossing a river in Rio Grande Trail
  • JAS Aspen Snowmass – In late June and over Labor Day weekend, you’ll find jazz, funk, blues, and pop concerts happening all around town. Trust me, there’s no better setting to watch an up-and-coming band than Aspen in summer. 
  • Aspen Music Festival & School – This is one of the top classical music festivals in the country. More than 400 events occur over several months, so there’s likely one happening if you visit anytime in the summer. 
  • The Annual Food & Wine Classic – Three days of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and celebrity chefs? This festival sounds like heaven to me!
  • Aspen Arts Festival – This July art festival showcases national and local artists and crafters in the middle of downtown Aspen.

Labor Day through November

Fall foliage at Aspen Grove in Colorado
  • Hiking and mountain biking – The Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass runs until early October. Take a scenic ride and hike around at the top, or cycle your way back down.
  • Leaf peeping – Aspen in fall is everything you would imagine. Visit Maroon Bells, the most-photographed mountains in Colorado, to get a glimpse of the bright fall foliage.

Aspen Weather and Climate

The Rocky Mountain High lyrics engraved on a stone in John Denver Sanctuary

Aspen is in a high alpine climate, set at 7,908 feet above sea level. There is low humidity and lots of sunshine in the area. 

Temperatures vary drastically throughout the year in Aspen. July is typically the hottest month, with an average high of 73°F, although it still gets down to the 40s at night. January is the coldest month, with an average high of 28°F and overnight lows in the single digits.  

Aspen prides itself on having nearly 300 sunny days, but you’ll want plenty of layers. Very quickly, mountain weather can turn from cold or windy to sunny and warm. 

Aspen gets very little rain, with an average of 19.8 inches annually. In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms and rain are common, but they usually move in and out of the area quickly. Though Aspen may not get much rain, it does get lots of snow – an average of 152.6 inches each year! Some years, Aspen has gotten upwards of 250 inches. 

FAQs on the Best Time to Visit Aspen

People crossing the street in Downtown Aspen

What is the off season in Aspen?

The off season in Aspen is spring, as well as fall. Spring is the least-visited season, and your best option for avoiding crowds. In these shoulder seasons, some businesses close or have shorter hours as they prepare for the busier winter and summer months. 

How many days do you need in Aspen?

You need three days in Aspen, one of Colorado’s best mountain towns. This allows time for outdoor activities, downtown shopping and eating, and visits to nearby sights like Maroon Bells. 

Is Aspen better in the summer or winter?

Aspen is better in the winter. The stellar ski resorts cater to your every need, downtown attractions are hopping, and you’re surrounded by views of a winter wonderland. 

What is the snowiest month in Aspen?

The snowiest month in Aspen is February, although December, January, and March also get plenty of snow. 

***

Hopefully, this guide has given you insight into the best time to visit Aspen. The mountain town is one of the top destinations in Colorado, truly enjoyable year-round. Safe travels! 

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