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10 Reasons to Visit Aspen During the Off-Season

Brandon Wenerd's picture



Shoppers will be enthralled by the selection of high end, off-season deals on everything from mountain bikes to fashion ski wear to shoes to art to camping equipment. The end of ski season is a great time to shop for skis and ski wear at a reduced price, including designer wear at Helly Hansen. Other bargains around town include significantly reduced hipster threads at Boogies and boutique novelty art at the Chepita Gallery. On a bit of a gloomy note, retailers like Tomorrows Laundry are offering storewide liquidation sales as they close their doors for good in town. All of these factors make Aspen a fabulous spring shopping destination for deal-savory bargain hunters.


The Red Onion

Under the new ownership of Scott DeGraff and his Fun Worldwide group, the historic and venerable mining town waterhole The Red Onion reopens this spring as “Junk at the Red Onion.” Dates have yet to be determined, but the folks at Aspen Magazine are co-sponsoring and preparing for a legendary grand reopening bash. Whenever the venue reopens – rumored to be sometime in May - it will certainly be the biggest party of the spring. Stay tuned for more information on the status of this Aspen landmark.


Fly Fishing

Springtime is an optimum season for solace-seeking anglers, even through snowmelt raises the water table of creeks and the Roaring Fork River. In the summer, rafters, bikers, hiking, and other anglers clog the Roaring Fork River and the nearby Frying Pan River. Currently, Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt is rating fishing conditions on the Frying Pan at a halcyon nine out of ten. Springtime couldn’t be a better time to land an 18+ inch trophy trout. Dust off your fly rod, pull on your waders, tie on a midge, or hitch up with a guide to get your fish on.

Aspen birches beginning to budAspen birches beginning to bud


Politics and Elections

The Aspen political scene is internationally notorious for being a dog and pony show (Freak Power in the Rockies, anyone?). It has been said, many, many times, that a town of 6000 year-round resident has six million opinions. You don’t have to look too much further then letters to the editors in the Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, or the assortment of opinionated, politically inflammatory Aspen-centered blogs. Seeing a town engage in the democratic civic process is hardly a selling point or draw for the traditional tourist. However, art savory tourists may be interested in a controversial ballot initiative proposing to expand the existing Aspen Art museum. 24,500 visited the existing Art Museum for free this past year. Nonetheless, visitors coming to Aspen will surly to experience plenty of healthy civil discourse and small-town political rhetoric leading up to the May 5th election. If you’re a political junkie addicted to the hotheaded and adrenaline-fueled circus of small-town politics, now is a good time to come to Aspen.



The German-American theologian and existential philosopher, Paul Tillich, once said, “Language... has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude" to express the glory of being alone.” There isn’t really a price for blissful solitude. In an esoteric way, there is something deeply humbling and soulful about an empty resort town in the off-season. A springtime jaunt to Aspen is a perfect time for a little merry personal introspection and communing with a beautiful and pristine natural alpine environment. It is the perfect time for rewarding experiences like a physically demanding hike up Smuggler Mountain or a meandering bike ride along the Rio Grande Trail to Woody Creek. Come to Aspen this off-season to rejuvenate and refresh in glorious solitude.