Aspen was the first mountain town I visited when I moved to Colorado thirteen years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite places to photograph elopements and micro-weddings to this day. Aspen may have a reputation as a bougie town filled with high end hotels, fine dining, and luxury boutiques, but there’s so much more to this town than that. Visit Aspen like a local, and you’ll find the perfect base for all your mountain adventures—summer or winter!

And if you are interested in eloping, keep reading for all my best tips for planning your Aspen elopement.

Elopement at Maroon Bells Amphitheater in Aspen, Colorado

Practical info about Aspen

Aspen is a mountain town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, in a little slice of western Colorado known as the Roaring Fork Valley. Best known as a ski resort town, outdoor recreation destination, and a luxury lifestyle, Aspen is a great place to elope whether you want a bougie boutique experience or something much more secluded in the White River National Forest.

Aspen is about a four-hour drive from the Denver International Airport (DEN), made a bit shorter in the summer season when you can drive over Independence Pass. In winter, the traffic along I-70 is often slow, especially on weekends when everyone from the Denver metro area drives up to the ski resort. You can also fly directly into the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) on United and American Airlines.

Best time to visit: While the Aspen/Snowmass ski resorts usually open in late November, you’ll get the best skiing from January through March. If you’re coming to Aspen for hiking, mountain biking, and all the summer outdoor recreation, mid-June through August are perfect. Unlike many mountain towns that slow down in September, Aspen remains busy as the area is well known for the aspen leaves changing colors. If you can deal with slower traffic and increased tourism, it’s well worth seeing the fall foliage. By early October, there’s a chance of snow. The only time I avoid is mud season (April through mid-May), when the ski resorts close and the whole town slows down before summer—but it can be a great time if you really want to avoid other tourists.

Major events: Aspen is a major hub for arts and culture, and there’s always something going on here. Some of the major events you might want to plan your trip to coincide with—or avoid—are Wintersköl™, Aspen Gay Ski Week, and X-Games in January, Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic in June, and the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in September.

Weather: Summers in Aspen are warm and dry, with temperatures from the high ’60s to low ’80s. You’ll often see afternoon thunderstorms in the summer months, so plan on doing your hiking early in the morning. Winter in Aspen begins in mid-October with the first snowfall, and sticks around through the middle of May, especially at higher elevations. While it is usually below freezing in winter, Aspen does not get extreme cold temperatures below zero often.

Lynn Britt Cabin ski resort wedding venue in Aspen, Colorado

Best wedding venues in Aspen

Aspen has no shortage of wedding venues, with everything from luxurious lodges and private dining experiences to rustic cabins and more affordable public venues. And you can’t talk about getting married in Aspen without mentioning Maroon Bells Amphitheater: easily the most iconic view in town, and often called the “most photographed mountains in the United States.” I have a whole guide to weddings at Maroon Bells here.

Here are all of my favorite wedding venues in Aspen:

Aspen hiking elopement

Best places to elope in Aspen

I can’t share my favorite elopement locations in a post like this without risking them going from private and permit-free to busy with permits, but here are some of the best places to elope in Aspen that are already “known” online. (Want some of those secluded options? That’s one of the many things I help my booked couples with, so reach out to see if you wanna be one of them!)

Private dining elopement in Aspen
Private dining elopement in Aspen

Where to eat in Aspen

Aspen is a food lover’s paradise! And while the town is best known for fine dining, you don’t have to be bougie to eat well in Aspen. Start your day with coffee from Felix Roasting Co. or Local Coffee House, then pick up pastries or a sandwich from Jour De Fête—the one place I have to eat every time I’m in town. For happy hour and dinner, you have loads more options, so here are all the best places to eat in Aspen!

Things to do in Aspen

There’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy on a trip to Aspen! While the area is known for skiing in winter and hiking in summer, you can also go mountain biking and horseback riding, boating and standup paddle boarding, or get extreme with snowmobiling or even private snowcat touring in winter. Start your trip to Aspen with a stop at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association at 590 N. Mill Street to pick up free maps and activity guides!

Hotel Jerome wedding in Aspen

Where to stay in Aspen

Staying in Aspen is expensive, no matter how you look at it. If you want more affordable lodging, look at nearby Basalt and Carbondale, or even Snowmass, where you can get a nice hotel room or vacation rental for a fraction of the price. On the flip side, it’s well worth splurging on a place to stay that’s walking distance to the gondola, shopping, and restaurants if you don’t wanna deal with parking—which can be a huge pain in downtown Aspen.

Best hotels in Aspen

Best vacation rentals in Aspen

Searching for the best vacation rentals in Aspen is wild—you’ll see $500/night ski condos right next to $20,000/night mega-mansions. For cheaper stays, look at Basalt or Carbondale rather than central Aspen. If you’re planning an elopement or micro-wedding in Aspen, use vrbo.com to search for vacation rentals as they have an “events allowed” search filter.

Aspen Elopement Galleries

Looking for an elopement photographer in Aspen? While I’m based in the Boulder area, I drive to Aspen a couple of times a year both for work and play, and don’t charge travel fees for elopements here. Check out my elopement packages, then contact me to chat more about how I can help you plan your Aspen elopement or micro-wedding!

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