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Triathlon Tour Guide: Aspen, Colo.

  • By Judy Tsuei
  • Published Dec 23, 2013
  • Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 11:46 PM UTC
Photo: Brett Friel

Better known for its snowy delights, the Rocky Mountain town is just as exciting in the late fall on two feet.

Go: In late fall, the sweet spot between the summer bustle and snowbird arrivals, for a peaceful experience of this high-altitude training mecca.

Stay: Drop your bags at Dancing Bear Aspen (Dancingbearaspen.com), a boutique private residence club located right in the heart of downtown. With the only rooftop pool in town, Dancing Bear features nine plush, fully furnished units and allows you to enjoy the city to its fullest potential — a concierge is at the ready with information about activities such as hiking, rock climbing and kayaking.

Dine: Chefs from around the world have come to call Aspen a culinary home. Brexi Brasserie (Brexiaspen.com) showcases French cuisine at its finest with everything from braised short ribs “Pot au Feu” to local beef tartare. Other places to nosh include Cache Cache (Cachecache.com) and Above the Salt (Saltaspen.com). Stay up a little later to imbibe at J-Bar (Hoteljerome.com), Hotel Jerome’s famous place to get a sense of old Aspen, or try Kenichi for a more modern sake spin. Also, it’s a tradition to ride eight miles from town to Woody Creek Tavern (Woodycreektavern.com), a restaurant known now for its margaritas and historically as an anti-establishmentarian hangout, where gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson would often spend time.

Hike In The Clouds

Starting on two feet, the best hike from town is the Ute, a single-track steady uphill climb filled with switchbacks. In just less than a mile, you can climb to 1,000 vertical feet and reach a rock outcropping with a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Aspen. From here, you’re a third of the way up Aspen Mountain (Aspensnowmass.com), so keep on trekking to catch a lift down on the Silver Queen Gondola or backtrack all the way down. For more inspiring peaks of all of Colorado’s 14ers (measuring 14,000 feet elevation and up), Aspen Expeditions (Aspenexpeditions.com) offers guides to lead you on a journey worth remembering.

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Mountain Rides On Two Wheels

The Roaring Fork Valley offers everything from mountain biking trails to lung-busting road climbs — all of which are scenic. Challenge yourself with one of Aspen’s must-rides: Independence Pass. Climb up 4,000 feet of elevation gain to 12,095 feet on Highway 82, which totals 18 miles. For the best 30-mile spin from town, ride west toward “down-valley” (a local term referring to the direction of Glenwood Springs) for climbs up Castle Creek Road to Pine Creek Cookhouse turnaround, then back down to the Maroon Creek Road intersection. Ascend to the Maroon Bells for a captivating view of these twin 14,000-feet peaks towering over Maroon Lake and the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness.

Swim At 8,000 Feet

Swimming at the Aspen Meadows Health Club’s outdoor pool (Aspenmeadows.com) is a wonderful way to soak up the town’s natural beauty, with a black bottom that absorbs heat for comfortable laps in its three lanes. The Aspen Recreation Center also offers Masters swim sessions. For a more relaxing dip, Dancing Bear’s private rooftop is a perfect place to lounge amid the garden terrace and outdoor seating areas that highlight exceptional views.

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Yoga On The Mountain

As an amazingly delightful counter-balance for body and mind, explore yoga on the Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain (see Aspensnowmass.com for seasonal schedule). Stretching on the wooden stage amid the lushness of greenery in the near and far distance fills up your lungs with a rejuvenating sense of awe.

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