Aspen, Colorado in early November
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Nov 27, 2012 2:35 PM Last Post By: Untracked
Oct 4, 2012 9:12 AM
Aspen, Colorado in early NovemberHi All,
My husband and I are flying into Denver Nov 1-5 for my birthday. We land Thurs late at night and leave Mon afternoon, so we have about 3.5 days. We're thinking about driving to Aspen and spending the weekend there. We are from Atlanta and have never really spent time in Colorado.
I know it will be cold there at that time and not sure if there will be snow yet, but trying to think about what we should do and where we should go. We enjoy light hiking, restaurants, walking around town, etc.
Wondering if Maroon Bells will be open at this time as we would love to see it.
Any suggestions are appreciated.
Oct 4, 2012 10:25 AM
1Well, it's been about 20 years since I've been to Aspen but I'll throw in my two cents. There is hiking at the end of County Rd 13 where you can see the Bells in the distance. Not sure about weather conditions in November, I was only ever there in the summer.
You might want to stop for a soak in Glenwood Springs http://www.hotspringspool.com/ A hike I enjoyed near there was to Hanging Lake, again I went in summer, so no idea what it's like in Nov, it was more strenuous but maybe that was just because I had a hard time adjusting to the altitude.
If the Hickory House is still open in Aspen I had the best chili cheeseburger ever there.
Check if Independence Pass is still open, and possibly drive back to Denver via Leadville on hwy 24. Subject to conditions which you probably won't know until you're there.
Edited by: lmnop
Oct 5, 2012 4:56 AM
2Aspen is kind of a trek from Denver, but if you've always wanted to see the Bells it's probably worth it. Also worth considering would be some smaller towns a bit closer to the major arteries--Breckenridge comes to mind.
Count on at least some snow on the peaks; as for the populated areas 9,000 ft. and below, November is really hit-or-miss for snow.
If you are set on Aspen, I'm sorry to say I don't know the town itself that well, though I'm sure there are plenty of folks on this forum who do. It is a fun town to explore and has tons of good restaurants and bars, though many of them are the kind of pricey you'd more readily associate with international Jet Set destinations--of which, of course, Aspen is a member.
Oct 5, 2012 5:22 AM
Oct 5, 2012 8:03 AM
4Trail closures will be predicated on the amount of snow at the time. It is never consistent in November when it comes to snowfall. I am sure you will have some options available to you, though. It will be cold, and if you have never been at altitude before be sure to drink lots of water on the car ride up and in between every 2nd or 3rd cocktail.
Oct 5, 2012 8:15 AM
5It is a hard drive for flatlanders, sharp curves, and steep grades all the way from Denver to Aspen. And if you rent a car it will be an automatic transmission unless you specify a "stick" shift. If you rent a 4X4 do not expect to be any safer, black ice is black ice (absolutely no traction). Expect some snow on the higher passes. When I drive those mountains from Oct. to April I carry a bag of kitty litter (traction) a snow shovel, water, food, and a warm sleeping bag. NEVER SLEEP IN YOUR CAR WITH THE ENGINE RUNNING! You only need to get caught unprepared one time to die.
And from a sign I saw in the San Juan mountains, "Hikers take care, the mountains don't care if you live or die". Pretty much sums it up.
Better research altitude sickness. You will gain over 2 miles of altitude so that is about a 60% loss in oxygen available to your system.
This comes from 30 years of hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, hunting, and just driving in these mountains. Jim Bridger I'm not, but I still have all my toes, and fingers. (frostbite)
Oct 5, 2012 11:46 AM
6You can also fly to Aspen from Denver. It's expensive but would save you seven plus hours of driving; for such a short trip, it could be worth it if you can afford it. Flights are frequent and take about 30 minutes from Denver. If the weather is good, the view out the window is great, too.
Oct 9, 2012 12:46 PM
7Thank you all for your help!
We are really open to other places as well. I don't want to risk our life to get there :)
Would you recommend us going to a different area for this period? Below are the places that come to mind:
Rock Mountain Nat'l Park
Oct 9, 2012 2:33 PM
8Interstate-70 from Denver to Aspen is 3-4 lanes wide freeway at about 75 mph. It is steep up and down (undulating) and there are tunnels (at least going east from Vail, the part that I drove) and it is fast traffic. Do not drive it in rush-hour traffic going west. There are many commuters into Denver from some of the towns. Rocky Mountain National Park is further than Aspen along Interstate-70. Breckenridge and Vail are closer to Denver.
Another beautiful ski resort is Mt. Crested Butte, on the other side of the mountain from Aspen. People fly from Denver (or Dallas/Fort Worth) to Gunnison (on Highway #50), then take the free bus north 30 miles to either Crested Butte or 3 miles further to Mt. Crested Butte, at about 9,500-ft elevation. Everything is within walking distance. However, the ski runs are for more advanced skiers. The preserved frontier mining towns are similar to Telluride and popular, but not as crowded as Aspen and Vail. There are condominium rentals in Mt. Crested Butte. Many Texans own million dollar ski homes in the vicinity, including ranches, where they also retreat to during the broiling hot days of summer. Excellent dining opportunities and entertainment.
The Rockies are already getting snowfall this week. Temperatures have dropped into the 20sF degrees in some areas at night. Supposedly, the storm due Thursday will bring warmer temperatures from west of San Francisco, but you never know.
Oct 9, 2012 2:58 PM
9We are not looking to ski, more to hike and walk around nice towns. How is Rocky Mountain Nat'l park that far from Denver? Estes Park seems to be only 75 miles from the Denver airport.
Oct 10, 2012 7:18 AM
10Considering you live in Atlanta, do you not have access to a Barnes & Noble or library where you could read a guidebook on the area? Then come here and ask more specific questions?
Aspen is a major drive from Denver, and its also the playground for the rich, its all about wine and dine, luxury lodging and boutique shopping.
RMNP is a lot better for hiking, but you would not have any of the trappings of Aspen, you could stay in Boulder for wine & dine.
if you want to focus on hiking, why not go to Smokey Mountains and the Appalachians? Far better weather in Nov than the Colorado Rockies, which is best for novice hiking in the summer months.
Oct 11, 2012 10:41 AM
11I wouldn't go to RMNP. The drive to Aspen can be a bit burdensome, but it is not nearly as bad as #5 makes it sound. Many tourists do that drive with no issue, just a little stress if it is snowing. Go at your own (rational) speed and relax. Chances are, a lot of the stretch will be clear.
Oct 11, 2012 2:54 PM
Oct 15, 2012 8:29 AM
13I'm a flatlander and I've driven from Denver to Aspen several times, sometimes only going as far as Vail. I think it's a fabulous drive. I do admit the one time I was there during the winter I was sure to drive on days when I knew the roads were clear. I'm used to snow, but not mountains. The weather can be gorgeous in Denver and messy in the mountains. I'm sure Colorado has some sort of weather/road conditions hotline you can check for updates. It's mostly freeway and they keep it as clear as they can because they have to cater to the skiers for their livlihood.
Aspen is a town with a ski hill, Vail is a ski hill with a town, if that makes sense. I haven't spent much time in Breckenridge, but I think it has a good vibe. You could base yourselves in Breck and make Aspen a day trip. Have fun.
Nov 26, 2012 7:56 AM
14Hi All, just wanted to let you know what we ended up doing, and it was perfect.
We landed in Denver very late Thurs night, stayed in downtown Denver. All day Friday we spent in Denver walking around, eating at great places, saw a show.
Saturday morning, left for Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Dinosaur Ridge park, then drove to Golden for lunch and walked around. Then we drove to Breckenridge via the pass so we saw beautiful scenery along the way.
We walked around Breck, had a great meal, had drinks at a bar and then a crepe for dessert. Breck was beautiful, but pretty deserted since it was before ski season.
After breakfast Sun morning, we left Breck for Boulder. We drove through the mountains and stopped in Nederland for coffee and sweets and walked around. The drive to Boulder after Nederland was gorgeous. Got to Boulder early afternoon, had lunch, walked around, had tea at the tea house, went out that night. Monday morning hiked at Chautauqua, had the best lunch afterwards at The Med then headed for airport.
We had a fabulous trip!!!
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