14 Places To Escape Outside Before the End of Summer

Welcome to The Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado–a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers alike. In this comprehensive locals’ guide, we’ll unveil the hidden gems and cherished spots that make this mountain town a paradise for hiking, biking, rafting, stand-up paddle boarding, and camping. Whether you’re seeking breathtaking trails, adrenaline-pumping rides, or tranquil waters, join us as we explore the very best our Valley has to offer for an unforgettable outdoor experience.


Smuggler Mountain Trail – Aspen

This is one of the most well known trails near Aspen, and for good reason. At 3 miles roundtrip and with an elevation gain of 800 feet, this trail is a good hike for beginners and experts alike. Take in breathtaking views of Aspen from the Smuggler mountain overlook.

Sunnyside Trail – Aspen

Sunnyside Trail is a moderate hike with rewarding views of Aspen, the surrounding ski areas, and the many peaks of the Roaring Fork Valley. At 4.8 miles roundtrip and 1,700 feet of elevation gain, this hike requires some planning and commitment, but is extremely rewarding.

Hunter Creek LoopAspen

The Hunter Creek Loop hiking trail in Aspen, Colorado, offers a moderate-level adventure suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers. This captivating loop treats hikers to the beauty of Hunter Creek, enchanting waterfalls, and stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, making it a perfect blend of natural wonders and manageable challenge.

American LakeAspen

American Lake hiking trail in Aspen, Colorado, offers a moderately strenuous yet rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Ascending through alpine meadows and dense forests, this trail leads to the breathtaking American Lake, cradled beneath towering peaks, providing hikers with both a satisfying challenge and awe-inspiring mountain vistas.

Source: Getaway Compass

Rafting/Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)

The Roaring Fork River

For an adventurous, rapid-filled day or a lazy float down the river, The Roaring Fork River has it all. Hop on your SUP or strap into your raft, this river will not disappoint. A great way to take in the Roaring Fork Valley while adding some adventure to your day.

Ruedi ReservoirBasalt

Just 14 miles from Basalt, this expansive reservoir offers plenty of water sport activities. From speed boats and jet skis, to SUPs and canoes, this reservoir is a great day activity for everyone.

Source: C2 Photography


Paddle boarding in the Stillwater wetlands offers a serene and immersive experience in a unique natural environment. Gliding through calm waters surrounded by lush vegetation and diverse wildlife, adventurers can enjoy a tranquil escape and connect with nature in a picturesque setting.

Source: Kelsey Brunner, The Aspen Times


The Rio Grande Trail – Aspen to Glenwood Springs

If you’re ready to break out your road bike and take down some miles, then the Rio Grande Trail is just the trail to be on. Stretching 42 miles of paved path from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, this trail is not only a great ride, but a great way to see every part of the valley.

Source: Roaring Fork Transportation Authority

Snowmass Bike ParkSnowmass

The Snowmass Bike Park was designed with every level of biker in mind. With over 3,000 vertical feet of designated downhill trails, this park is a mountain bikers’ dream. The Roaring Fork Valley was recently named an IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center, one of only seven in the world.

Castle Creek Road – Aspen

Biking along Castle Creek Road in Aspen, Colorado, provides cyclists with a thrilling journey through scenic beauty and alpine charm. The road winds alongside the meandering Castle Creek, passing by charming cottages, dense forests, and occasional glimpses of towering mountain peaks, offering a challenging yet immensely rewarding ride for those seeking both natural splendor and an invigorating workout.


The Frying Pan River – Basalt

With Gold Medal waters designation, easy access, stunning views and a wide variety of fish, the Frying Pan River is one of the premier fishing locations in the country. Located east of Aspen in the Hunter- Fryingpan Wilderness, it is easy to get to and its convenient location makes it easy to check out other nearby rivers and lakes.


Silver Bar Campground – Aspen

Located just a short drive from Aspen, this campsite offers great scenery, sounds of the nearby Maroon Creek and great privacy. Hop on the nearby trails for a day of hiking or horseback riding or fish the Maroon Creek.

Chapman Campground – Fryingpan River Road past Ruedi Reservoir

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, White River National Forest offers endless serenity and adventure. With eight wilderness areas and 10 peaks surpassing 14,000 feet in elevation, the lush forest is filled with scenic, winding rivers and beautiful wildlife.

 Lost Man CampgroundAspen

Lost Man Campground, perched up Independence Pass in Aspen, Colorado, offers a serene camping getaway amidst the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Set against the backdrop of stunning alpine vistas, the nearby Lost Man Lake hiking trail beckons hikers with its high-altitude charm, culminating in the reward of a pristine alpine lake nestled within the rugged terrain.

From the majestic peaks of the Maroon Bells to the tranquil shores of Ruedi Reservoir, this charming mountain valley offers a plethora of outdoor activities that cater to all interests and skill levels. Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures like hiking, biking, and skiing, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the serenity of nature, breathtaking landscapes in the Roaring Fork Valley provide an unforgettable experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual nature lover, make sure to add these top outdoor destinations to your bucket list for a truly remarkable journey into the heart of Colorado’s wilderness.