Aspen Adventures: Bike Trails, Rapids, Golfing And Must See Secret Spots

It’s safe to say, adventure has been a little hard to come by these last few months. Canceled trips were replaced by backyard sojourns and walks through the park. As the world opened up a bit, our LifeToGo contributor Jacqueline Reynolds headed for the Colorado mountains where cooler temperatures, blue skies and verdant mountains beckoned.

Her multi-part travel guide breaks down everything from the must-see mountains to the adrenalin rush of river rafting. In her second installment, Reynolds gives us the scoop on the best bike trails, where to ride the rapids and the ideal golf courses to perfect that hole-in-one.


Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or just want to cruise around the town, Aspen’s roads range from challenging climbers to breezy rides. Mountain, cruiser and road bike rentals are available at shops in Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt. Although I’ve tried some of the more difficult routes, I’m definitely more of a cruiser. Here are some of my suggested rides.

  1. Castle Creek Road (Intermediate/ Moderate)

This ride is a 13 mile climb that takes about an hour. As you wind up the paved road, you’re captivated by the open valleys and natural scenery. The breathtaking views make this leg-burner all the more worth it. You can reach the Ghost Town of Ashcroft in 11 miles and finish your workout with a well-deserved glass of wine and Apple Crisp at Pine Creek Cookhouse.

(*Secret Spot: Hidden back in Castle Creek Valley, Pine Creek Cookhouse is a remote cabin with gourmet food and amazing opportunities. The lesser-known spot offers unbeatable horseback riding, fishing and hiking tours).

  1. Cruise to Woody Creek Tavern on the Rio Grande Trail (Easy)

This is my absolute favorite bike ride, and I highly recommend this cruising experience for all ages and levels. It’s fun, breezy and comes with a rewarding meal. The Rio Grande Trail follows the Roaring Fork River from Glenwood Springs to Aspen at a gentle incline and hits some ideal spots along the way. Whether you’re starting in Aspen, Snowmass or Basalt, the rental process is simple and adaptable to your desired ride. As you pedal slightly uphill or downhill (if starting in Aspen or Snowmass), you must enjoy a meal at Woody Creek Tavern for unbeatable margaritas, enchiladas and an eccentric dining environment.

Click Here for more information on mountain biking and road biking around the Aspen/ Snowmass area.

River Rafting:

You cannot fully experience a Colorado summer without a little risky rafting, and Aspen offers the best guides across a range of rivers for all levels. Whitewater rafting can be anything from a fun family activity to an advanced thrill ride.

I’ve completed a fair share of rafting trips through a company called Blazing Adventures. I have yet to try a thriller, but I recommend the Upper Roaring Fork ride for a Beginner-Intermediate trip. With a blend of mellow floating and quick rapids, this Class III whitewater rafting is perfect for safely experiencing the water with a little kick of adrenaline.

Fishing & Golfing:

My dad and brother are fishing fanatics, and when they’re not holding fishing rods, they’re swinging golf clubs. Passionate and experienced, these two hobbies have become their summer expertise up in the mountains, and they’ve explored every river and each golf course in the Aspen/ Snowmass area.

Courses & Clubs:

In only a 30-minute drive down Highway 82, you have access to various public and private golf courses, ranging in both price and difficulty. Here are some of the top three award-winning public golf courses:

  1. River Valley Ranch (in Carbondale, CO)
  2. Aspen Golf Club (in Aspen, CO)
  3. Ironbridge (in Glenwood Springs, CO)

(*Secret Spot: Ironbridge course is one of the best kept secrets in the valley. The back nine is challenging with surprising views and the food is off the charts—my dad and brother’s favorite).

Click Here for more information on golfing around the Aspen/ Snowmass area.

Rivers & Rods:

While I’m not great with golf clubs, I’ve spent some time casting fishing poles in the trout-filled rivers and unfamiliar lakes. Whether you’re looking for intense fly fishing or a casual cast, here are some great spots:

  1. Roaring Fork River & Frying Pan River
  2. Maroon Creek
  3. Ruedi Reservoir

(*Secret Spot: Not many people know about Ruedi, and it’s one of my family’s favorite places to explore. From excellent fishing and hiking, to numerous water activities and camping, to just driving around the cliffs of the reservoir, I highly recommend experiencing all of the adventures this spot has to offer).

Click Here for more information on fishing guides, shops and spots in the Aspen/ Snowmass area.



Jacqueline Reynolds is a senior journalism major at the University of Georgia with a certificate in Interdisciplinary Writing. She attended the Juniper Institute for Young Writers in 2016 and the Aspen Summer Words writers conference in 2020. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Jacqueline currently lives in Athens, Georgia where she is a staff editor for Stillpoint Literary Magazine and a contributor on the opinion desk for The Red and Black. Curious, conscious and creative, Jacqueline is an adventurer and a storyteller.

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