My wife and I were in Denver to attend a funeral of a close friend. After the service we decided to drive to Aspen to brighten things up a little, and celebrate our wedding anniversary. We chose to take the route through Leadville (the highest incorporated city in America at 10,152 feet altitude), past Twin lakes, and across Independence Pass, because the Aspen trees were in their full golden glory. We were not disappointed. The drive was spectacular, although not for the faint of heart in a couple of spots. Be forewarned that the route is steep and winding on both sides of Independence Pass, and becomes quite narrow in places between the pass and Aspen. Remember also that the pass is at an altitude of 12,095 feet above sea level which may bother some people. The altitude at Aspen is about 7900 feet, and if you take I-70 all the way from Denver to Glenwood Springs and drive southeast on State Route 82 up to Aspen, the highest altitude you will achieve will be on Interstate 70 as you pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,158 feet, which is also happens to be the highest point of the entire Interstate highway system.
The afternoon before we left Denver, we called the Aspen Square based upon a review of our AAA book. We were able to book a Fireplace Studio Suite for three nights at $156 Per night ($178.62 including all tax & fees). The rates vary widely with the different seasons, and late September is at the low end. We arrived on September 24, 2010 and checked out on the 27th. Everything went great our entire stay. We were assigned Room 218 on the corner of the building. Apparently all of the rooms have different owners and each one is decorated differently. From our deck on the second floor, we had a view to the south of Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax) and the Aspen Silver Queen Gondola that takes you to the top of Ajax (altitude 11,212 feet). We lounged on the deck and sipped champagne as we watched dozens of hang-gliders launch off the mountain and fly overhead. The gondola is less than a 100 yard walk from the hotel.
Our room was beautiful. Granite counters and stainless steel appliances adorn the spacious (for a hotel) kitchen area, a king sized bed with top quality linens, a big comfy leather couch at the foot of the bed, a large flat screen TV, a stone fireplace (although we did not use it on our visit), and a large travertine tiled bathroom with a glass enclosed shower. The suite was well decorated from stem to stern.
Free parking, although limited, was available, and we always found a spot. Some of the spaces are under the building, and some are outdoors. The spaces were tight, and hard to get in and out of, but since parking is at a premium in Aspen, we were very happy to have it at all.
The hotel concierge was great and very helpful in her restaurant and activity recommendations. The desk clerks were great as well, and our room was spotless when we arrived, and it stayed that way while we were there.
Aspen in late September, although beautiful with the fall colors, is somewhat “dead,” or at least it was in late September 2010. A number of the shops were either closed or out of business - possibly a combination of both. The same was true for a few restaurants. However, we found good restaurants for every meal, and had a wonderful time hiking and relaxing. Since the shopping was limited, I saved a few bucks!
While you are in Aspen, there are two places that you should try to visit. Most importantly, do yourself a favor and visit the Maroon Bells Scenic Wilderness area, which is about a 30 - 45 minute drive from the hotel. There are vehicle restrictions, and you might have to take a shuttle, so be sure to check out the rules. The bowl including Maroon Lake, which is flanked by Sievers Mountain to the north, and the Maroon Bell peaks to the southwest, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen - especially in late September when the Aspen trees are changing. The “Bells” are purported to be the most photographed peaks in North America. It is easy to see why.
The second adventure I recommend is a gondola ride to the top of Aspen Mountain. There is a restaurant at the top, and the highest frisbee golf course on the planet. Hiking trails abound everywhere, and the view in all directions is spectacular. The ride up and down is relaxing, and offers wonderful views all along the way.
Although the Aspen Square is rated three diamonds by AAA, Room 218 is a five diamond room in my book.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly across the street from Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola, the Aspen Square features comfortable fireplace studio suites and larger condominiums for nightly rental. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aspen Square Hotel Aspen