Adrenaline Fix in Aspen, Colorado

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Home > Colorado > Colorado Cities > Aspen > Summer Activities > Adrenaline Fix    [ bookmark this page ]

Page Title: Adrenaline Fix in Aspen, Colorado
Page Synopsis: Adrenaline Fix in Aspen, Colorado: Climbing, Hiking, Kayaking, Hot-Air Ballooning, Paragliding and Rafting

Recommended Travel Links: Aspen, Colorado Hotels
Ski Packages: Expedia Ski Packages Aspen Hotels

Need an Adrenaline Fix? Aspen's Got It

If it’s Fast-Moving, Heart-Pumping, or Thrill-Inducing, This is the Place

Everybody knows that “extreme” sports are the trend of the moment. But in Aspen, they’ve been a way of life for decades. That’s why the 2002 and 2003 ESPN Winter X Games chose Aspen as their venue. And it’s why some of the world’s top adventure athletes call Aspen home, pursuing their punishing disciplines on the peaks, rivers, rocks, and trails that make up this gigantic outdoor playground. But this natural amusement park isn’t just for the pros. Aspen has endless opportunities for all levels of the adventure-hungry to get in on the action.

Just Add Water

·     Kayaking. With the Roaring Fork, Crystal, Arkansas, and mighty Colorado rivers all nearby, Aspen is a hub for whitewater adventuring. In the summer, it seems like every other car or truck has a kayak strapped to its roof. Kayaking lures new thrill-seekers each season to test their mettle against the rushing currents of rapids like Shoshone (on the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs), the menacing Meatgrinder (on the Crystal), and Slaughterhouse, located right in Aspen and regarded as one of the best class four runs in the country. 

·     Learn From the Best. Because there are so many challenging stretches of river nearby, there are a comparable number of word-class kayakers who have risen to the challenge. One is Charlie MacArthur, a whitewater daredevil and Eco-Challenge competitor. He’s also one of the owners and teachers at the Aspen Kayak School, which offers group and private instruction to boaters of all levels. (; 970.925.4433)

·     Rafting. Another exciting way to get your feet (and probably the rest of you) wet is to join a rafting trip. Aspen has numerous outfitters who are ready to take you on the whitewater ride of your life—on the Colorado’s raging Shoshone stretch, the Arkansas’ harrowing Numbers or Brown’s Canyon, or the pounding Slaughterhouse Falls on the Roaring Fork. Or if a mellow, scenic float trip is more your speed, they’ll do that, too. (Blazing Paddles; 970.923.4544)

·     A River Runs Through It. The Roaring Fork River is a fly-fisherman’s play haven, a spectacular 70-mile stretch with some of the most rewarding fishing holes in the country. Rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout are the most popular catch, and the river fishes well all year long, keeping anglers hooked. For those wanting to take the plunge, local fly shops have information on access rules and required licenses, and outfitters rent equipment and provide guide services. Taylor Creek Fly Shops (; 970.920.1228); Highlands Guides and Outfitting (970.920.9080); Aspen Outfitting, located in The St. Regis Aspen (970.925.3406); or Aspen Flyfishing (970.920.6886).

Climb Every Mountain

·     Hiking and Mountaineering. With the Elk, Collegiate, and Gore ranges of the Rockies in its backyard, Aspen is surrounded by Fourteeners (peaks higher than 14,000 feet). This means hikers and mountaineers have a mind-boggling array of choices to fulfill their climbing desires. Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak, is a long, non-technical climb, while Capitol Peak is a demanding technical ascent, requiring climbers to pass over a dangerous knife ridge on the way to the summit.

·     Favorite Local Hikes. Aspen’s trail system offers everything from scenic meanders to leg-burning steeps. Favorites among locals are the Hunter Creek Trail, a beginner-to-intermediate day hike sprinkled with aspen groves and diverse vistas. The Sunnyside Trail hugs a beautiful ridgeline and during the fall is ablaze with changing Aspens. For those wanting to test their hiking stamina, the rocky Ute Trail (2.5 miles), named after the Ute Indians, is a heart-pumping climb. The rocky perch at the top offers a stunning view of town and a prime picnic locale. For more local knowledge, visit one of town’s many outfitters, including the Ute Mountaineer. (; 970.925.2849)

·     Rock Climbing. Look closely at any canyon wall or rocky outcropping and chances are there’s a well-toned, determined climber clinging to it. Rock climbing is an obsession in Aspen, and Independence Pass (a few minutes east of town) has hundreds of routes, from the classic Edge of Time to the challenging Cryogenics.

·     Be a Rock Star. Aspen’s mountains and rock walls are open to all. The best way to take to the hills yourself is to hook up with an outfitter. One of the best is Dick Jackson, a regular mountain man and owner of Aspen Expeditions guide service. He and his staff of rugged pros offer guided expeditions to Capitol and other daunting peaks, as well as rock-climbing lessons and clinics. (; 970.925.7625)

In the Air

·     Paragliding. Glance up at the Aspen sky anytime during the day and most likely you’ll see a bright speck flying high above town. For those wanting to experience Aspen via a bird’s-eye-view, Aspen Expeditions offers tandem paragliding flights that are guaranteed to get the adrenaline flowing. Launch sites are located atop Aspen Mountain.  Fall is a particularly popular time to paraglide, as the Rockies are aglow with changing foliage. Tandem flights are scheduled four times a day, weather dependent. (; 970.925.7625)

·     Hot-Air Ballooning. Watching the sunrise over the Colorado Rockies from a hot-air balloon is a sure vacation highlight, as flights take riders above the graceful yet rugged landscape of the Aspen area. Limitless panoramas of 14,000-foot peaks make for continuous picture-perfect moments.  The traditional champagne toast concludes the one- to two-hour experience. Unicorn Balloon Company has been flying Aspen’s predominately blue skies since 1984. (; 970.925.5752)


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