Scenic Drives - from Denver to Aspen & more

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There's no question that once a visitor arrives in Aspen, they will be blown away by the myriad of things going on in town. The endless dining options, renowned nightlife, world-class cultural events, and pristine trails to explore via foot or wheel are well documented. With highways that are lined with jagged cliffs, winding roads over high-alpine passes, and deserted back-roads from the desert, accessing Aspen can be nearly as memorable as the time spent once you arrive. Here are 5 drives to Aspen that double as terrific day trips: 

INDEPENDENCE PASS  IS CLOSED FOR THE 2019/2020 WINTER SEASON. Check cotrip.org for up-to-date information. 

Drives from Denver to Aspen

1. Over Independence Pass: A majority of visitors to Aspen originate in Denver, or Colorado's "Front Range," having flown into Denver International Airport (DIA) or residing in a city or town along the eastern edge of the state. Without question, the can't-miss drive to Aspen from the front range travels over Independence Pass (via Highway 82, which is open during the non-winter months). A handful of gorgeous roads lead to Independence Pass, such as the high-plateau plains of Jefferson and Grant along Highway 285, driving alongside the Collegiate Peaks near Salida and Buena Vista, and the switchback-turns on Highway 24 from Minturn. Be sure to have your camera ready as you pass Twin Lakes and descend towards Aspen; the countryside over Independence Pass is stunning! This is part of the Top of the Rockies Colorado Scenic Byway Tour.  

2. Through Glenwood Canyon: Don't ignore the classic. Highway I-70 from Denver passes through the Glenwood Canyon on the "Million Dollar Highway." Jagged cliffs line the Colorado River between Gypsum and Glenwood Springs, and there are a handful of trails accessed right of the highway that weave up into the mountains and offer a great respite from the drive. One great hiking option is the quick and moderately strenuous trail that leads to Hanging Lake just outside of Glenwood Springs. Most people recognize the waterfall at the summit of the trail as the iconic falls from Coors Brewing Company advertisements. And, the Glenwood Hot Springs are the perfect place to soak your sore muscles after the hike, before heading in to Aspen.

Other Scenic Drives

3. If you're in Southwest Colorado and looking for a picturesque way to get to Aspen, be sure to hit Highway 133. Dense groves of aspen trees color the roadside over McClure Pass. The ominous peaks of Mount Sopris and Chair Mountain make up the panoramic views as you crest the pass and descend into the Roaring Fork Valley. As you drive along the Crystal River, you'll pass the historic town of Marble, the small-town Redstone, and charming Carbondale. Highway 24 and 285 from Southeast Colorado will place you amidst the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the country, pass Colorado's mecca of whitewater rafting and kayaking-the Arkansas River, and run alongside some of the best trout fishing in the state.

4. For those in the West and headed East along I-70 across the Utah desert, the back-roads surrounding Moab are the best way to break the beautiful monotony of the desert. Highway 191 takes you past Arches National Park and towards Moab. As you cross the Colorado River, you'll see Highway 128. Take a left and follow the river through canyons and rolling red-rock desert, and past towering spires that will leave you in awe. The drive through Castle Valley and Dewey, Utah is one of the best-kept secrets in the "wild west." Though this detour adds about 2 hours onto your drive, you won't be disappointed. (Plus, the wineries in Palisade, Colorado-which you'll pass en route to Aspen-produce some of the best wines in the state.)

5. If you're Aspen-bound from Northeast Colorado, such as Estes Park, Loveland, Fort Collins, or Greeley, Highway 34 bisects Rocky Mountain National Park. Known as "Trail Ridge Road," the highway promises incredible panoramic views of mountains, loads of wildlife, and endless meadows of wildflowers. Eventually, you'll pass through Grand Lake, Colorado and be able to trace the headwaters of the Colorado River from the old resort town on the shores of Colorado's largest natural lake, to a gravel road through spectacular Upper Gore Canyon.

For an in-depth look at scenic byways throughout Colorado, visit http://www.coloradobyways.org/.

A 360 Tour from one of Independence Pass' famous climbing locations. A beautiful view for both climbers and drivers alike.

A virtual tour of the Grottos, a wonderful day hike and picnic area close to Aspen, and yet miles away.

A virtual tour of one of the Aspen area's ghost towns. Tours are available in summer months via the Aspen Historical Society.

A virtual tour of the North Star Nature preserve which is just east of Aspen, at the base of Independence Pass. A worthwhile location to explore while visiting or passing through Aspen to another town. 

4th of July Parade Waiver


PARADE STARTING/STAGING: The parade will begin at 11:00am. Parade positioning is “first come, first serve” and line up begins no earlier than 10:00am. There is no entry fee and the parade is open to the public. All 5 lanes of Main Street, from Aspen Street to 2nd Street, will be closed to all traffic & designated for parade staging only. Power is not provided in staging area and remember generators do need gas.

PARADE ROUTE: The parade will start East on Main Street. It will turn South onto Hunter Street, then West onto Cooper Avenue. The parade will continue West on Cooper Avenue to Galena Street. At Galena it heads North for 2 blocks before turning West onto Hopkins Avenue. The parade will continue South on Mill then West on Hyman Avenue. Parade participants will be directed to disperse at Hyman and Monarch Street.  PARADE JUDGING: Parade judging will take place in front of the Hotel Jerome. Participants will be limited to 1 minute or less for any performances in front of the judges. Security will be onsite monitoring all entries to help prevent gaps in the parade route. Recognition will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories: 

Most Patriotic | Most Humorous | Best Animal | Best Music | Most Outrageous | Best Children’s  


  • Consumption of alcohol is prohibited during the parade.
  • Candy, favors, etc. should not be thrown from your float/vehicle during the parade. This is for the safety of the spectators and to prevent children from running out into the street. 
  • Water balloons will not be permitted. According to city ordinances, those caught throwing balloons will be removed from the parade and could face citations and/or arrests. 
  • All parade entries must be in “good taste” and will be allowed in the parade per the director’s discretion. 
  • Maximum height restriction for any float entry is 13’5”.


The undersigned organization has elected to participate in the Fourth of July parade sponsored by the City of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association (“ACRA”). In consideration for City of Aspen and ACRA allowing the undersigned to participate in the festivities, the undersigned has read, understood, and willingly agreed to the terms of this INSURANCE LIABILITY AGREEMENT and WAIVER AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT (collectively referred to herein as “RELEASE”).


                                    Participants are required to carry insurance adequate to cover any liability for damage, injury, economic loss, or other liability that may be incurred by individuals and/or organizations during the Fourth of July parade. All participants agree to carry such insurance, and also agree not to submit any claim against the insurance of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, or anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade.


                                         The undersigned understands the potential dangers that could be encountered in participating in the Fourth of July parade. The dangers include, among other things, dangers relating to vehicular and pedestrian traffic; crowds of persons in close proximity to such traffic; animals that may react unpredictably in a parade environment; celebration and recreational activities; loud and unexpected noise; items that may be thrown to and from the crowd in connection with the parade; and other dangers traditionally associated with parades.  Understanding those risks, the undersigned for itself and for all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade with the undersigned, does hereby agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and release City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade from any and all liability, claims, demands, actions, or rights of action (including attorneys’ fees and costs) that are related to or are in any way connected with the undersigned’s participation in the parade. By signing this RELEASE, the undersigned intends to extinguish any and all liability and to indemnify against any loss on the part of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade for any injury or damage of any nature (without regard to negligence or fault) to the undersigned and to all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.

                                      The undersigned warrants and represents that it will not invite or allow any person to participate in the parade unless such person is bound to the terms of this RELEASE. To that end, the undersigned agrees that it shall take any steps necessary to secure agreement of such persons to the terms of this RELEASE, and that it shall be deemed a responsible person within the meaning of C.R.S. § 13-22-107 and § 19-1103(94) for all children who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.


   I am the official representative of the undersigned organization. On behalf of the organization, I acknowledge our responsibilities as set forth above. I also accept on behalf of the organization all of the terms and conditions of this



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