Riding the Rockies' Mountain Splendor
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
After a little yard work in the sweltering sun, and a refreshing beverage (full disclosure: gin and tonic) to chase away the heat, it's time for me to buckle down and bring you your weekly diversion. I've gotten a lot of questions about some of my recent posts and inspiration pieces; people are curious about three things: what can they do here in Colorado (that request comes from both Colorado residents and non-residents); can I conjure up more examples of 'pretend' (yet totally possible) itineraries; and, what is a stay at a luxury ranch like? I'll tackle the Colorado trip first and the other two topics will provide fodder for the next couple of weeks' newsletters.
For a Colorado vacation suggestion, I'm going to appease the cyclists. However, if you're not a titan of the two-wheeler, you can still participate in this vacation because it comes fully equipped with your choice of a top-of-the-line road, hybrid, mountain, or electric assist bicycle, plus bike helmet. Can you guess which one I'd choose? If you're REALLY not a cyclist, just remember that my job is to curate your very own personalized, made-to-order vacation, once you let me know your heart's desires. Reach out to me for a consultation - it's that easy.
So, imagine rolling for four days through stunning mountain scenery to the top of Independence Pass on one of America’s highest-elevation paved roads. Spend three luxurious nights at an impeccable hotel in Aspen, that world-class enclave of restaurants and boutiques surrounded by the wild beauty of the Rockies. You'll stay in The Little Nell, Aspen's only recipient of both the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five-Diamond Awards, and universally recognized as one of the world's finest resort hotels. What could be better for relaxing and energized mind and soothing a hard-working body?
On Day 1, head out of Aspen following the contours of Castle Creek. Ride right into the ghost town of Ashcroft, home to the boom and bust of silver mining in the 1880s. In its heyday Ashcroft had 3,500 residents, but as the silver vein was mined dry, the population dwindled and the last inhabitant died in 1939. What remains is the shell of a town in a spectacular high-mountain valley, perfect for exploring on two wheels. From here, you can cruise back down to Aspen or challenge yourself with an additional climb up the next glacial valley, known for its oft-photographed views of the Maroon Bells peaks. Tonight, regroup for an introduction to Aspen’s famed dining scene at our favorite local restaurant. Be treated to hand-picked highlights from Aspen’s booming food scene, ranging from local treasures to top chefs preparing farm-fresh fare from the surrounding valleys.
Hit the road after breakfast on day 2, then stop for coffee in the western railroad town of Basalt and refuel for the next 13 miles of climbing up to Ruedi Reservoir. At the top, enjoy the lake views you worked so hard for—the only thing better is lunch at an iconic local hangout that serves the best tamales in the valley (and their margaritas are icing on the cake). Tonight explore Aspen’s great restaurant selection; your guides are happy to make recommendations or reservations.
On day 3 you can choose to have an off-road day of either stand-up paddle-boarding, mountain biking or hiking. Plus, there will be plenty of time to hit the spa, or the boutiques, the museums, perhaps do a wine-tasting or sight-seeing - I recommend meeting at a local silver mine for a fascinating tour by a retired miner. Tonight, gather for a final private dinner, prepared especially for you by a local chef.
No bike trip to Aspen is complete without this: at an elevation of 12,095 feet, Independence Pass falls in the “bucket list” category. The views of shimmering mountain lakes and snow-capped peaks provide a welcome distraction and sense of awe. For your triumphant finish, breeze back down to the hotel where a well-earned brunch is waiting. You trip ends here, but it's still summer so head off to your next adventure.
Included in this fabulous four days are your daily breakfasts, all lunches, nutritious snacks, and après velo cocktails; 4 gourmet dinners at renowned local restaurants; carefully selected local wine, beer, or spirits with every meal; daily bike maintenance to ensure optimal performance; entrance fees to museums and excursions; refreshments on your rides, and of course a support vehicle for assistance with bikes and tired legs.
By the way, if you 're a skier, The Little Nell is Aspen's only ski in/out hotel, and they are offering an early-bird special for skiing next winter. See the choices here.
'til next week.