When you have a budget to work with, you may feel strained as a family to come up with fun things to do despite a lack of funds. Fortunately summertime is the perfect time to watch your budget because the good weather makes it even easier to have fun without spending much of anything.
Aspen is no exception to this rule with great things to do for little to no cost all summer long while the kids are on summer break. Along with swimming in spots around the city, many parents are turning to old-fashioned fun like long bike rides or hiking through the area to enjoy the view.
When you need some simple ideas to keep yourself and your kids having fun this summer but you’d rather leave the wallet at home, consider these different possibilities this season to allow you stay busy, entertain the little ones, and have some fun for little to no cost.
Get out the bikes
Your kids already love biking around the neighborhood with their friends and they usually wish mom and dad could tag along too. While you’re too busy with other responsibilities, your kids are biking away all summer long.
When you have some free time with the kids, consider making it a family biking day. Take them somewhere other than the neighborhood to make it even more exciting. It’s time for some mountain biking in Aspen and a chance to discover some new territory, enjoy beautiful views, and challenge yourself mentally and physically.
Check out the Rio Grande Trail, a 42 mile bike path that runs from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. You’ll find mileage markers at half-mile intervals to keep you on track so that you don’t overdo it. There is even the Woody Creek Tavern in the area to give you an easy place to grab lunch after riding for a while. Your dogs will have to sit this one out since they aren’t allowed on part of the trail, but it will give your family more time to focus on one another.
You could also head out to Snowmass Bike Park for some fun on the downhill biking trails. They weave down to the Snowmass Village base from the Elk Camp Chairlift giving you a downhill descent of almost 2,900 feet. This is the adrenaline rush you need this summer and it’s perfect for someone new to the sport.
Work with the bike pros at the park to learn about the basics you’ll need to enjoy the experience. Experts will find the path to be very exciting with challenges available and connections to cross-country trails deep in the woods. Check it out daily from June 24-September 5 and for a few weekends until October.
Hit the water
The best part of summer is the fun in the water for kids and adults. Make it a swimming summer for the family by visiting all of the swimming spots in Aspen. You can easily pool hop in town to avoid an expensive pool membership in your neighborhood or in town which would allow you to affordably swim at spots like the Basalt Pool and the Aspen Recreation Center.
Instead of your typical swimming pool, why not trying a swimming hole around Aspen? You can swim at the Basalt River across the street from 711 with the kids and the dogs. Check out the Glenwood WhiteWater Park, the first man-made whitewater feature of the Colorado River, where you kayak, surf, and boogie board the whole length of the river.
Many people spend summertime at Independence Pass Devil’s Punch Bowl for some exciting cliff diving into the hypothermic swimming pool. It can be a little more dangerous but it’s perfect for thrill seeker.
Many people will opt for a day at the John Denver Sanctuary where you can enjoy swimming with the dog and kids across the park from the Visitors Center of Rio Grande Place. There is a parking garage for $1.50 per hour and the kids will love running around the boulder garden where you’ll find John Denver song lyrics carved in the stones.
The Northstar Nature Preserve in Pitkin County will give you 175 acres of open space on the Roaring Fork River to enjoy. There is recreation available for low-impact activity, and it’s also known for being a wildlife corridor as well as educational site. It’s perfect for tubing, kayaking, and stand up paddling.
Lastly, don’t forget there is water to enjoy at the Ruedi Reservoir, just 14 miles east of Basalt. It’s located in the White River National Forest and features a Ruedi Marina Campground with views of the reservoir and starry skies. It’s a common place for camping and folks love to enjoy the lake for boating and fishing. There are two boat-launching ramps and 81 campsites available to campout, go sailing, enjoy fishing for trout and take in the views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.
Take a hike
If you like the idea of getting some exercise but aren’t interested in biking, it may be the perfect summer to take a hike. There are several great spots to hike with your older kids, such as the Ute Trail that leads up to the Aspen Mountain for Bluegrass Sundays which ends with a ride down the Silver Queen Gondola.
The Hunter Creek Trail is a local favorite for families and parallel to it are bridges that offer short hikes with scenic views. Take the Conundrum Creek Trail if you like the idea of your end goal being to reach a hot spring after a long hike. This goes 8.5 miles to the hot springs and by the time you’re, you’ll have hiked 17 miles.
Don’t forget Independence Pass Summit which can be done if you drive up Route 82 first, as well as the Aspen Ice Caves near the Aspen Grottos or the Ashcroft Ghost Town in the historic ghost town from the 1880’s.
Other unique things going on this summer
Don’t forget to enjoy summer music, farmers markets and the annual Carbondale’s Wild West Rodeo. You can find farmers markets with Basalt Sunday Market Carbondale Farmer’s Market, Glenwood Springs Market, and the Aspen Saturday Market. Along with Bluegrass Sundays on the mountain, check out Aspen Music Festival and School, Classical Saturdays, and Snowmass Free Music Series.
You don’t have to spend much money this summer to have fun. Enjoy the natural beauty of Aspen by getting outside and enjoying some physical activity, then be sure to check out the free or low-cost opportunities for fun around town.