A One-Day Aspen, Colorado Vacation
After spending the day in Great Sand Dunes National Park we started making the 3 1/2 hour drive to enjoy our Aspen, Colorado vacation. Aspen is a quaint city and also a perfect place for a Colorado honeymoon.
On the way to Aspen, we were fortunate to go through Independence Pass, a rather scenic drive full of gorgeous mountain ranges and winding roads. Many times we would find a place to pull over and take in the breathtaking scenery that we were being surrounded by in the Rocky Mountains.
We got so lost in the moment that hours later we noticed a storm coming in and might we add… quickly! However, we decided to visit the Grottos Trail on our way down because we had heard that there was an area with amazing ice caves.
Within 15 minutes of starting the hike on the Grottos Trail the storm we had seen previously caught up with us and it started pouring (go figure)!
Determined to still visit the ice caves we kept moving forward only to find out, to our disappointment, the ice caves were completely flooded with moments of the rain starting. We hope you have better luck than we did!
We both counted our blessings that we weren’t inside the caves before it had started raining or we may have been in a rather grim situation with flash flooding. We decided to then turn around and head back to the trailhead.
Grottos Trail Facts
Length: 1.2 Mile Loop
Elevation Change: 78 ft
Creperie Du Village
After our failed attempt to visit the ice caves we decided to clean up at our hotel and head to dinner. I mean, no stop on your Aspen, Colorado vacation would be complete without some delicious cuisine.
We decided to have dinner at Creperie du Village, a French restaurant that serves fondue, crepes, and many other French delicacies. We enjoyed the unique ambiance and the beautifully displayed and deliciously prepared cuisine.
Together we shared savory and sweet crepes but after seeing the fondue we wish we had ordered that as well but man, those crepes already had us stuffed! If you happen to give it a try let us know how it was! 😉
Hours: 11:00am-11:00pm | Menu
After a night of restful sleep at The Westin Snowmass Village, we woke up at 5 am to visit the Maroon Bells. The view of Maroon Bells is located right next to the parking lot so you don’t have to walk far to see this beauty! We sat at Maroon Lake for hours watching the sunrise and taking in the charm that surrounded us.
There are two trails nearby that we would recommend:
Length: 18.3 Mile Loop
Elevation Change: 3,257 ft
For more information on the Maroon-Snowmass Trail trail visit here.
Crater Lake Trail: An easier, shorter trail
Length: 3.4 mi loop
Elevation Change: 629 ft
For more information on the Crater Lake Trail visit here.
-If you arrive before 8am you should be able to drive straight to the parking lot by the trailhead ($10 for parking). We suggest getting there no later than 7am.
-If you arrive after 7am or 8am you might have to park at the Aspen Highlands and take the shuttle which operates from 8am-5pm.
READ MORE: Visiting Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Springs
Have you been on an Aspen, Colorado vacation? We’d love to visit again during the snow ski season!
Comments & Reviews
Nigel Kane says
We are big fans of Colorado so enjoyed your article. Reminds me of our trip to Telluride in Colorado, beautiful place by the way and worth a visit. We left Monument Valley in hot desert sun and three hours later a snow plough passed us as we headed up into the Rockies! Always sure of amazing scenery but weather can be unpredictable :-D. We seem to have a lot in common in our travel styles so look forward to following more of your adventures!
Melissa Jones says
Omg just WOW! If I visit Aspen I’m definitely taking this route from Great Sand Dunes National Park, the views are just incredible! Shame about the ice caves being flooded but I’m sure you’ll be back to explore them next time, this route is too awesome not to do again 🙂
Melissa, we hadn’t originally planned to go that way but we were SO glad we did. It was one of the most memorable places from our trip. Definitely a shame about the Ice Caves but we were just glad we weren’t inside them when the flooding started! You’re right… we plan to visit again sometime really soon. 🙂
That whole valley is so beautiful. I visited Great Sand Dunes for the first time last March and loved it.
Carol, glad you felt the same way! We loved it as well.
Julie Smith says
I loved visiting Aspen last summer. I was there for a wedding, so, let’s face it, didn’t do much hiking, but we did drive over Independence Pass, and it was one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever done! I think next time in the area, I’d spend more time hiking and less time drinking, but live and learn 🙂
Julie, we loved Independence Pass as well. The beauty there is just unreal and can hardly be captured by a camera. You must go back to visit again when you have more time. 🙂
Gorgeous photos! Lucky you weren’t in the caves when the rain came! I’ve only driven through the Rockies in Canada, but will definitely have to do it in the US one day too.
I’ve made it to Vail but haven’t made it to Aspen yet. The view at Maroon Bells is breathtaking. Will have to find a time to get up there and explore.
You definitely need to! Maroon Bells are so beautiful and the look of them changes throughout the day. 🙂
So nice to flash back to Independence Pass! I grew up in the Rockies and love it there. Even got to show it off to my Australian beau a few years ago. Glad you didn’t get trapped in the caves!
Anita Hendrieka says
Never been to Aspen but you’re post is making me want to visit. love your photos!
Thank you Anita! You definitely should go someday. 🙂
That photo of Maroon Bells is just amazing! I’m sure I could sit there all day long with just a picnic basket and a book in hand. Would have loved to see you photos taken there during sunrise, by the way!
Loved this one! You’ve got me looking forward to visiting Grotto’s trail! 🙂
Please do! Then let us know how it was without all of the rain! 😉
My home!!! I’ve been exploring Colorado for 8 years now and admittedly I’ve avoided Aspen – mostly due to the crowds, but I’m determined to get there this year! I’d love to climb Maroon Peak and do the Maroon Traverse. Thanks for this post! I love reading about Colorado 🙂