Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, Delivering Cool Outdoor Summer Adventure–Part 1 Aspen History

Escaping to the cool, dry air of the mountains during long hot summer months, has long been a family tradition in my family. When I was younger, my family would travel in August from NW Arkansas to Washington state and the Pacific Northwest (visit previous article: and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. This beautiful Colorado backdrop is now my family’s favorite summer playground, and we look forward to family time spent together outdoors, as we leave the hot hustle and bustle of the Dallas metroplex behind for a few weeks.

Our family’s adopted hometown is Aspen & Snowmass, Colorado. I consider these two towns a package deal, as they are connected by an easy, scenic drive, as well as by bus or bike ride. Traveling west out of Aspen on Hwy. 82 there are several worthy destinations to visit before arriving in Snowmass Village, which lies 8 miles to the west (read about these destinations in Part 2 of this blog series). These two destinations are easily accessible by plane at the Pitkin Airport, which is nestled between the mountains of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Glorious Aspen trees lure visitors and native Coloradans alike to the mountains and provide cool shade and hugs for active nature enthusiasts. Some background information on these amazing trees aids visitor’s understanding of why this area is special. Colorado Quaking Aspen trees flat green leaves flutter in the summertime breezes and provide habitat for many alpine animals. Aspen tree information:,native%20range%20of%20any%20tree%20in%20North%20America.)

Hannah Featherman, the communications manager at National Forest Foundation, writes in her article, “Tree Profile: Aspen–So Much More Than a Tree” that “Regardless of what comes to mind when you think of aspens, they hold the title of the most widespread tree in North America. From the Midwest, across Canada, north into Alaska and across the West through to Arizona and New Mexico, quaking aspens dot the edge of conifer forests in clusters or “clones.” See Featherman’s article at regarding this remarkable tree species and its extensive underground root system. It’s easy to see how this area lures in nature lovers.

The Roaring Fork River Valley hosts Aspen and surrounding towns. Summertime activities include white water rafting, fly fishing on the Fryingpan and Crystal Rivers, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, rock climbing, camping and more. Below is some information about outdoor activities: Visit Roaring Fork Valley info here: Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association visit White water rafting trips Fryingpan fly fishing outfitter

The abundance of aspen trees in the area lent to the official naming of the town Aspen, Colorado. A little history on the town of Aspen & Snowmass and the Roaring Fork Valley helps visitors understand and appreciate this pristine location. Aspen is the county seat of Pitkin County, CO, and had a population of 7,100 in 2017. “It sits in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains’ Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains”… it’s just 11 miles west of the Continental Divide. During Colorado’s Silver Boom, Aspen was set up as a mining camp (Wikipedia). While John Denver and his songs popularized and brought many people to the town, it’s the outdoor experience that offers the best reasons to visit.

Gathering local free maps, magazine, and other information about the area before or on the day you arrive helps travels plan for a fun vacation. Buying your own groceries and packing a lunch and-or dinner for the day helps keep travel costs low. Also check out Groupon to find any deals for the activities you and your group want to do.

In Part 2 of The Roaring Fork blog series, I’ll introduce some native Aspen residences and their stories…

Cheers to traveling and getting outside with family and friends… Happy Trails and stayed tuned for more blog posts of Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley Travel series.

Works Cited (Hanging Indents Implied)

Featherman, Hannah. “Tree Profile: Aspen–So Much More Than a Tree.” National Forest Foundation, 21 Mar 2014, Accessed 8 Aug 2020.,_Colorado

Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley–Part 1 by Sarah Heinzelmann Andersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

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