Aspen, Colorado | Home is Where the Heart Is

Every time I visit Colorado, my heart aches with longing to remain among the familiar trees and mountains that touch me so. It had been three years since we last went, but as soon as my feet touched the beloved soil, I felt as though I had come home from weary journeys. My soul sighed with contentment to be so close to the golden trees as they spoke to me of ages past. In them I sensed an ancient wisdom born of the hundreds of years they had seen as they stood there, silent sentries of a world long gone.

The universe seemed to slow when I was there, worries back home melting away in the coolness of the crisp mountain air, gently drifting through my fingers and soothing the tangled tendrils of my mind. We spent the short weekend frolicking amongst the trees and in the vast meadows, admiring the changing autumn colors upon the mountainsides. We discovered hidden gems off the beaten path where not a soul could be seen or heard. And I marveled at the wonder of creation still untouched by man.

Recommended Stops (map):

  • Explore Booksellers: Whenever we visit a new place, we make a point to look up any local bookstores in the area. This one in the heart of downtown Aspen has stood for many decades in a charming Victorian-style house. It was our first stop, and a perfect one to start our trip.
  • Maroon Bells: This is possibly the most photographed place in Colorado, but photos could never do it justice. We easily spent half a day in the area, walking through the ethereal aspen trees on the scenic loop trail, climbing the hills on horseback. Car access is limited in order to preserve the beauty of the wilderness. We parked for free at Buttermilk, then took a bus to Aspen Highlands, where we bought tickets for another twenty-minute bus ride up to Maroon Peak ($8/person round-trip). I enjoyed the informational bus tour about the history of Aspen. Due to its popularity, Maroon Bells proved to be the most crowded place we went, but that did not detract from the beautiful experience we had being there.
  • Twin Lakes: a tiny historic town just before Independence Pass into Aspen. While exploring this area, we came upon the most beautiful scenery during golden hour. Though it’s right by the main road, we found pockets of solitude where it felt as though we had crossed the threshold into a dreamy universe where no one else existed except us two.
  • Independence Pass: a breathtaking scenic drive on the way up to Aspen. The views are spectacular and worth the heart-stopping moments when there is nothing between your car and the side of the mountain.

Good Eats:

  • Capitol Creek Brewery (Basalt): If you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping here just for their truffle potatoes.
  • Cafe Bernard (Basalt): cute French cafe that we stopped at for brunch. The smoked trout hash is mouth-watering delicious and has just the right amount of flavor without being overwhelming.
  • Cattivella (Denver): We loved this Italian restaurant, and it provided a lovely bookend to our trip. It’s fairly close to the airport, so you can stop here to or from your flight. We started with charbroiled oysters, then had the delightful lamb ragu and the most amazing prime rib that has ever entered our mouths. Truthfully, we should have just ordered the steak to share, but to be fair, we didn’t realize it would be such a substantial piece of meat. On the pricier side, but I promise it’s worth every penny for fantastic food and attentive, warm service.