Winter understandably gets more attention than any other season in Aspen Snowmass (as it should, due to the abundance of winter activities and stunning views in the Roaring Fork Valley), but in many ways, September is even better. The crowds of tourists have begun to dissipate and things start to get quiet, giving you more space and time to enjoy all we have to offer. It’s easier to get reservations at restaurants, and our little piece of mountain paradise becomes even more enjoyable.
Aspen’s September weather is also ideal for a variety of events and adventures. Temperatures average in the 60s and low 70s, which is perfect for strolling around town; all you need is a light jacket.
Aspen’s roster of annual September events begins with the Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience. After an exciting start, September continues with hot-air balloons, leaf-peeping, gondola rides and world-famous eateries. Visit Aspen Snowmass in September to take advantage of the full Colorado experience before the snow falls.
Here are some of our favorite Aspen Snowmass September events and activities:
1. TREAT YOUR EARS TO THE JAZZ ASPEN SNOWMASS LABOR DAY EXPERIENCE
Immerse yourself in three full September days of continuous live music in Aspen Snowmass. You’ll instantly recognize the names of every act. At the start of every September, the JAS Labor Day Experience offers an immersive outdoor concert and musical celebration. You’ll experience three to five performances per day, representing a wide range of musical genres. Single-day performances tickets are also available in case you’ve got a full itinerary of September activities to pack into your Aspen vacation.
2. LEAF PEEP ON ASPEN’S WINDING MOUNTAIN ROADS
New England colors don’t change until October, but the leaves in Aspen Snowmass start their annual show weeks earlier, in September. Every September, you’ll see the spectacular bright yellows and warm oranges covering the mountainsides and valleys around the Aspen valley. If you drive along Castle Creek Road or Maroon Creek Road south of Aspen, you’ll witness an abundance of memorable autumn views as you wind higher and higher in elevation. You’ll see box elders, Rocky Mountain maples, and quaking aspens lit up in vibrant hues, set off by the darker native evergreens which give Aspen’s local September landscape depth and intrigue.
3. GONDOLA- AND LIFT-SERVED PANORAMIC VIEWS
One of our favorite ways to take in the beauty of September in Aspen is via the views from the top of Aspen Mountain and the top of Elk Camp at Snowmass. In the winter, the gondolas and chairlifts are the fastest ways to get to the top of the ski slopes. In September, you can ride either the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen or the Elk Camp Gondola dn upper Elk Camp chairlift at Snowmass for glorious views of the colorfully covered mountainsides. Various on-mountain restaurants are open and ready to serve you an indoor or al fresco autumn meal. For a longer-lasting, more intimate view of the leaves in Aspen Snowmass without the price of lift tickets, you can hike up the mountains, then ride back down for free.
4. WATCH THE SKY AT THE ANNUAL SNOWMASS BALLOON FESTIVAL
Each year (around the first week of September), Aspen Snowmass hosts the world's highest and fastest hot air balloon race. The Snowmass Balloon Festival, one of the highest-altitude hot air balloon events in the United States, attracts 30 pilots to engage in balloon challenges and races. Colorful competitors gracefully float above the treetops, then off and away to the finish line. Numerous booths and activities surround the staging area to further entertain (and feed) active, excited children and their parents.
5. ENJOY FANTASTIC DINING IN ASPEN AND SNOWMASS
September in Aspen (and in Snowmass Base Village) is usually the last month when outdoor dining is a comfortable option, and you’ll find plenty of accommodating establishments in town. Aspen Snowmass has a magnificent array of high-quality dining options for families and couples to enjoy all year long. September evenings in Aspen Snowmass usually bring a bit of a chill, so you may find yourself seated indoors instead of out for a cozy meal or a coffee with dessert.
6. TRY A MOUNTAIN BIKING ADVENTURE IN SNOWMASS
The undulating terrain of Aspen Snowmass terrain was made for mountain biking, and the Roaring Fork region has hundreds of miles of trails. You’ll find turn after turn of breathtaking scenery that you might swear just jumped off a postcard.
For those who enjoy the challenge of a climb, the Tom Blake Trail is a favorite local intermediate singletrack. It’s a relatively low-impact ride that winds through bright, changing foliage and will reward you with breathtaking mountain vistas.
If climbing isn’t your thing, visit the Snowmass Bike Park to be carried up the mountain via gondola and chairlift. All you’ll have to do is stay on your bike as you quickly cruise downhill on swooping trails with features like berms, tabletops, obstacles, and drops.
7. EXPLORE HIGH-REWARD HIKING TRAILS ALONG INDEPENDENCE PASS
You don't need a bike or a car to get a dose of Aspen’s local September scenery. Experienced hikers can follow trails from Independence Pass trails through the local woodland (you might even find some wild berries for a snack). Independence Pass follows the wild Roaring Fork River and drifts up to the Continental Divide, and is the origin point for numerous high-alpine scenic hikes. A nail-biting (but perfectly safe) 45-minute drive from downtown Aspen can become days' worth of hiking adventures on foot. Trails vary in difficulty, but beginners and experts alike can find a day hike that's just the right level of challenge.
8. COUNT THE TACKLES AND BRUISES AT ASPEN RUGGERFEST
Aspen September Ruggerfest is a world-class rugby competition that draws approximately 50 teams from the continental United States, Hawaii, the Southern Hemisphere, and Europe. Come see some of the top rugby teams compete for the Ruggerfest title and bragging rights on Aspen's legendary rugby pitches at Wagner and Rio Grande parks.
9. CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE IN THE LOST FOREST
In Snowmass, you can choose a September adventure that satisfies your thirst for adrenaline as well as your desire for stunning visuals. Take the Elk Camp gondola to the Lost Forest, a dynamic mid-mountain playground for adventurers of all ages. You and your friends and family can fill your days on the zipline, in the ropes course, or on the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster. If you need a lower-key experience but love soaking up the mountain scenery, you’ll also find miles of hiking trails, a high-alpine fishing pond, a disc golf course, and a rock climbing wall.
10. SEPTEMBER RAFTING IN THE ASPEN VALLEY
Yes, Aspen’s temperatures start to drop in September, but there’s still time to get on the river! The Roaring Fork River, which runs from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, has fun whitewater rafting for all abilities, ages, adventure levels. Along Aspen’s Roaring Fork, between Woody Creek and Basalt, you’ll be guided through Class 3 rapids that are fun for family trips. Once the river passes Carbondale, the Roaring Fork gets wider; the calm water is perfect for relaxing floats surrounded by stunning September scenery.
CHOOSE YOUR HOME BASE FOR ASPEN SNOWMASS ADVENTURES
No matter the activities you prefer and regardless of your favorite season, there's no denying that the fine dining and mountain trails make Aspen Snowmass an amazing place to visit with your family.
Once the sun sets and the early-September evening chill hits the air, your perfect mountain adventure can end with a cozy evening indoors at your Aspen vacation rental. Because September crowds are smaller, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, whether you prefer basic or luxury accomodations.
Be sure to book your stay early to get the perfect spot for enjoying September’s Aspen Snowmass events!