Aspen is famous for throwing impromptu firework shows whenever possible. It's not uncommon for restaurant patrons to hear the explosions and dash outside in order to "ooh" and "aaah."
Indeed, fireworks in Aspen are truly a sight to behold, as they light up the snowy slopes with color. So with New Year’s just around the corner, we bring you three outdoorsy options to enjoy the show, from hiking to skinning to snowshoeing. Grab some friends, pack a Thermos full of toasty beverages, and prepare to ring in 2016 in an unforgettable way.
Hike Smuggler Mountain
Directly across from the slopes of Aspen Mountain is Smuggler Mountain . Known in the summer as one of the best hikes in Aspen, it is also a notable trek in the winter. It's a dirt road, featuring several switchbacks that wind up the side of Smuggler Mountain. From anywhere along the road you can look back across the lights of downtown Aspen and have a perfect view of the fireworks.
Stabilizers and poles will make this night hike that much better. Stabilizers provide traction on the ice and are designed to fit over your shoes. Poles make the walk down much easier.
Fireworks are shot from midway up the last slope of Aspen Mountain, called Little Nell Hill. The best mode to make your way up the hill is snowshoes. Make your way up the right side, as far as you feel like going. But the more elevation you gain, the more you can see of the sparkling downtown lights. The real show comes when the fireworks explode directly overhead and you are standing amidst the reflective snow, which glows with whatever colors are in the sky. It is a truly breathtaking experience.
If you don't have a pair of your own snowshoes, you can rent snowshoes at the Ute Mountaineer. Don’t forget to bring a Thermos of hot cocoa or tea to enjoy while watching the fireworks. Once you stop moving your core temperature will immediately start cooling, so stay warm with a hot beverage until you start your descent.
As you look up Aspen Mountain from town, the mountain is notably split into two areas. On the left you have Little Nell Hill, and on the right is a steeper pitch called Norway. Norway is one of the final sections of the World Cup ski races every year. Starting from the iconic Lift 1A, it immediately begins to climb. The ideal way to head up the slopes is on AT skis or a splitboard, using skins to make sure you keep moving up.
Stay to the side of the ski runs, as there are often groomers at work. At the top of the long, steep climb is a flat area. From here you can look back across the snow toward the fireworks, putting you at eye level with where they are exploding.
Don’t forget to dress in layers; you will warm up as you go, so shed a layer that you can put back on when you cool off at the top. Also important is a headlamp for the corduroy ski back down to the base.