Where We’re Going: Offseason is road trip season for Aspenites | AspenTimes.com

Where We’re Going: Offseason is road trip season for Aspenites

Aspen Times Weekly Staff

From bellhops to billionaires, Aspenites travel well and travel passionately.

When the lifts stop spinning in the springtime and the mud starts flowing, most everybody who can get away finds a way. Whether it’s a day trip to Fruita or a flight around the world to visit your ski-season besties in Australia, we all find a way to get beyond the roundabout.

In May, as winter often lingers beyond its welcome and turns Aspen at least a little ugly, locals put a premium on finding warmer and sunnier climes. Other unsurprising priorities: urban culture and remote adventure, to be found in big-city excursions and in the wilderness of the desert. The most hardcore skiers among us try to extend the ski season, with trips to Arapahoe Basin (or at least the legendary A-Basin parking lot parties) or up to Alaska for heli-skiing. We go see family, of course. We travel for weddings and bat mitzvahs.

But for as much as mountain-folk pride ourselves on rugged individuality and a sometimes-terminal uniqueness, we also often end up in the same places. I’ve unexpectedly bumped into Aspenites on the beaches of Baja, in the Museum of Modern Art atrium, at the starting line of the New York City Marathon and in the airport in Santiago, Chile. I once got cat-called while sitting in a sidewalk café on Decatur Street in New Orleans by local TV personality Oliver Sharpe, who was passing in a taxi.

So, as Aspen reverts, however briefly, into a sleepy mountain town this offseason, the Aspen Times Weekly is taking a look at where we’re going and why.

This is our breakdown of the Aspen offseason road trip.

– Andrew Travers

The Classics

Colorado National Monument near Fruita.
AP/Aspen Times file

Where? Fruita and environs

Why? Sun and heat; mountain biking at Kokopelli, the 18 Road trails or Lunch Loops; rafting Loma, Ruby/Horsethief, Westwater; bringing the kids to Colorado National Monument or Highline Lake State Park

How long are we staying? A day trip or weekend

What are we spending? Go dirtbag style, stay on BLM land, and you can do it for the price of a jar of peanut butter and a tank of gas, but glamping or hotels add up

Will we see our neighbors? Count on it

What does ATW staff say about it? “I’m going to camp solo somewhere along the Colorado River near Cisco and read a book wearing as few clothes as possible with my feet in the water.”

Moab
Paul Conrad/Aspen Times Weekly

Where? Moab and southern Utah

What are we doing there? Getting sunburnt; biking Porcupine Rim and Slickrock; exploring Canyonlands and Arches, getting lost in Needles; finding ancient rock art; watching sunsets at Dead Horse; rafting and kayaking the Colorado, climbing, canyoneering, jeeping; tripping on mushrooms

How long are we staying? At least 127 hours

What are we spending? Anywhere from dirtbag dimes to diamond dollars

Will we see our neighbors? Probably on the trail, on the river and at Eddie McStiff’s

STS9, one of Colorado’s most beloved jam bands over the past 20 years, playing Red Rocks.
Courtesy photo

Where? Red Rocks Amphitheater

Why? Lotus, Method Man & Redman, Florence and the Machine

How long are we staying? A night or two in Denver.

Will we see our neighbors? At Lotus, for sure

Grand Canyon
Aspen Times file

Where? The Grand Canyon

What are we doing there? Camping on the rim, hiking to Phantom Ranch, rafting the Colorado River if we won a permit

How long are we staying? Two nights minimum; two weeks if we’re running the river all the way from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek

Will we see our neighbors? Somehow, yes

What does ATW say? “If the rafting permit lottery is so competitive for the Grand, how do local river rats get on a trip every spring?”

A Short Flight Away

Las Vegas (Shutterstock image)
Shutterstock

Where? Las Vegas

What are we doing there? Drinking poolside, sun-bathing, gonzo shenanigans, gambling, Celine Dion

How long are we staying? A long weekend will do the job

What are we spending? Get the Allegiant direct flight out of Grand Junction and you can fly round-trip for under $150. Stay off the Strip and you can book a hotel for under $100. Avoid weekends and it’s even cheaper. But go “Lost in America” at the roulette table and it’ll cost your future.

Will we see our neighbors? In May, chances are good

What does ATW staff say? “I’m going Tuesday to Friday to avoid the weekend and the knuckleheads.”

Sedona (Shutterstock image)
Shutterstock

Where? Sedona

What are we doing there? Hiking Cathedral rock, golfing, mountain-biking

How long are we staying? Five days and up

What are we spending to get there? Flights out of Denver are $150 and under, going from Aspen will make it $400

Will we see our neighbors? Oh, yes

Palm Springs, California
Shutterstock

Where? Palm Springs

What are we doing there? Sun, pools, sleep, ogling midcentury modern architecture, art and Joshua trees

How long are we staying? A long weekend or longer

What are we spending? You can camp or go baller at the Ritz-Carlton, but in mid-May most hotels are under $150 a night; dining and drinking are near Aspen prices (though there is an In-N-Out Burger)

The Beaches

Sayulita
Aspen Times file

Where? Coastal Mexico

What are we doing there? As little as possible on the beach; surfing; yoga retreats

How long are we staying? Preferably a full week

Will we see our neighbors? If you’re in Sayulita or Tulum in the spring offseason, almost certainly

What are we spending to get there? Best value flight-wise is Southwest’s daily nonstop to Cancun out of Denver, which runs $350 to $500 round-trip; the United flights to Cabo San Lucas are comparably priced

What does ATW staff say? “Once I started exploring the Caribbean side and the Mayan Riviera, I learned it’s super easy to get around from Cancun to Tulum to Bacalar, renting a car or riding a bus.”

Destin, Florida

Where? Florida (Palm Beach on the Atlantic side, Destin on the Gulf)

What are we doing there? Sun, sand, rum and not much else

How long are we staying? A week or more

What are we spending to get there? Denver to Palm Beach around $300, to Destin around $500

Will we see our neighbors? A favorite of service industry folks and the Jimmy Buffet set, there’s a better-than-zero chance

Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Where? Costa Rica

What are we doing there? Surfing, swimming, yoga retreats

How long are we staying? Ideally a week or more

What are we spending to get there? Flights from Denver to San Jose are dirt cheap (including a $97 round-trip on Frontier) but adding an Aspen leg will tack on around $200

Will we see our neighbors? If you’re on the Nicoya Peninsula, it’s all but certain in springtime

What does ATW say? “My favorite offseason trip was going with a Costa Rican I met at Skico for two weeks — his parents lived in San Jose, so that was base camp. We rented a big white van and mobbed around the beach at Playa Hermosa and the tourist tourist trap that is Tamarindo.”

Caribbean
Shutterstock

Where? Sailing the Caribbean

What are we doing there? Island-hopping, fishing, swimming, sailing

How long are we staying? A week at least

Will we see our neighbors? Probably not unless they’re on your boat

What does ATW staff say? “We’d tie up two or three boats together at night and fish during the day. We’d pull into a cove and drop anchor and the roosters on shore would wake us up in the morning.”

The City

Denver
Shutterstock

Where? Denver

What are we doing there? Shopping, restaurants, Rockies games, Casa Bonita

How long are we staying? A long weekend

Will we see our neighbors? Yup

What does ATW staff say? “We got last-minute nosebleed tickets to Game 1 of the Nuggets-Spurs series and then (an Aspenite) called and said, ‘Come down to our luxury box!’ We got to meet the team afterward.”

New York City

Where? New York

What are we doing there? Seeing family, friends, culture, food, theater, nightlife, the Whitney Biennial

How long are we staying? A week is ideal

Will we see our neighbors? In a city of 8.5 million, it happens with surprising regularity

What does ATW staff say? “You can cover a lot of ground on the East Coast. I’m combining Manhattan day trips with family time in New Jersey and a drive to see more family, cherry blossoms and the final days of American democracy in Washington, D.C.”

Santa Monica, California
Shutterstock

Where? Los Angeles and San Diego

What are we doing there? Sun-bathing, surfing, sushi in Japantown, live music, clubbing

What are we spending to get there? Direct Aspen-L.A. flights are done until June, but flying from Aspen to LAX through Denver is still $300 and under round-trip

How long are we staying? Four days and up

Nashville, Tennessee

Where? Nashville

What are we doing there? Grand Ole Opry, live music, bar-hopping, plantation tours, Jack Daniel’s distillery

How long are we staying? At least a long weekend

What are we spending to get there? $300 or less from Denver

What does ATW staff say? “I get outside enough and I’m active all the time here. For offseason travel I’m thinking sedentary leisure.”

Will I see my neighbors? Maybe John Oates. Does he still count as a local?

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Shutterstock

Where? New Orleans

What are we doing there? New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

How long are we staying? At least a long weekend

Will we see our neighbors? JazzFest always falls in the low of offseason, last weekend in April and first weekend of May. And when a heady band like Widespread Panic is headlining, Aspen is going to show up

The Bucketlist

Laos
Shutterstock

Where? Southeast Asia

What are we doing there? Partying, bike touring, beach, hiking, eating pho, fish and sticky rice

How long are we staying? From the day after Highlands closing day to Food & Wine weekend

Will we see our neighbors? Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have turned into a ski bum offseason staple, so don’t be surprised if you do see the lifties from Chair 6 in a Luang Prabang palace

Jodhpur, India
Shutterstock

Where? India

Why? Train rides, shawarma, mango lassi, Taj Mahal, temples, spiritual enlightenment

How long are we staying? At least two weeks

Will we see our neighbors? If we’re in Goa or Varanasi, there’s a chance

Great Sand Dunes National Park
great-sand-dunes-national-park

Where? The Great National Park Road Trip

What are we doing there? Taking a full two-month road trip to hit Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Yellowstone and beyond

Will we see our neighbors? Experience tells us that at any given offseason moment there is at least one Aspenite in one of the national parks in the West


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