We really enjoy taking scenic drives in our car. The Colorado Rockies were made for this. Wondering what to do in Aspen, Colorado? Here are three not-to-miss scenic drives a short distance from town.
The Maroon Bells are two mountain peaks, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. They are what Colorado calls “fourteeners” (mountains over 14,000 feet above sea level). These stark peaks are names for their red hue and distinctive shape. According to the Aspen/Snowmass tourism folks, they are “the most photographed peaks in all of North America.” Closed during the snowy season, it opens some time in spring. During shoulder season you can drive Maroon Lake; in summer, access is via shuttle bus.
Castle Creek Road:
Just to the south of the road to Maroon Bells is another scenic mountain drive. Castle Creek Road takes past to the historic mining town of Ashcroft where a few buildings still stand. On the way up, you’ll drive past a pristine mountain creek with signs of beaver dams. You’ll get some great mountain views, too. From mid to late September, the area is a riot of fall color, mostly the yellow of the aspen trees, which, not surprisingly, grow in profusion in the area.
Independence Pass is another seasonal drive that will bring oohs and aahs to your lips. The road is open from Memorial Day Weekend through the first serious snow (usually around November 1st). With an elevation of 12,095, it’s the highest paved pass in Colorado. On the west (the Aspen side), the road (Colorado Route 82) runs along Roaring Forks River. There are lots of places to pull over, picnic and even camp. Drive to the top and turn around, or continue on past Twin Lakes and connect with Colorado 24, which goes to Leadville to the north and Buena Vista to the south.
Whether you do one of these or all, you will get some great views and photo opportunities along the way.
Do you have any favorite mountain drive you’d like to share? If you have a great mountain photo, we’d love to feature it as the Photo of the Week. Contact us.