How to avoid an Aspen parking ticket |

How to avoid an Aspen parking ticket

The worst thing about parking in Aspen, aside from trying to find a spot, is getting a ticket when you've found one. (Aspen Times file)

The first thing you need to know about parking in Aspen is don’t, if you don’t have to.

A free in-town bus system and fare buses connecting to points downvalley and Aspen’s pedestrian-friendly layout all mean you can easily manage a vacation in Aspen without a vehicle, if you’re flying here.

In addition, most hotels and lodges offer shuttle service to and from the airport. And, accommodations within Aspen itself are generally within easy walking distance of downtown and Aspen Mountain.

But if you’re driving, chances are, you’ll wind up with a parking ticket ” that is, if you find a space ” unless you know the ins and outs of Aspen’s parking situation. If it’s your first ticket ever, however, it won’t be a ticket. Instead, you’ll find a warning on your windshield. It’s like a Mulligan in golf, but you only get the one freebie.

A parking fine in the residential areas runs $30 ($40 if you don’t pay up within 10 days) and a ticket for parking downtown without plugging the meter is $20. Parking illegally in a commercial lot could get your vehicle booted ” getting it unbooted ran $80, the last time we checked.

If you park downtown, you need to pay a meter on Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is free on evenings and Sundays.

There’s generally one meter per block on each side of the street, rather than the old-style meter in front of every parking spot. The meters take quarters and credit cards, but not paper bills; you can buy from one to four hours of time. To leave your car in the spot for more than four hours, you need to go back and buy more time. The meter will spit out a ticket, to be displayed on the dash, that displays a time. Once the clock ticks past that time, you’re meter is expired.

Paid parking in the downtown core costs $1 for the first hour, $3 for two hours, $5 for three hours and $8 for four hours.

Outside the core is free parking in the residential neighborhoods, but it’s two hours maximum. Move your vehicle at the two-hour mark or risk a ticket.

One can exceed the two-hour limit in the residential zone with a residential pass, provided by your lodge, or a one-day pass that costs $5. The pass is available at the Parking Department at City Hall (open Monday through Friday), City Market stores from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, at the Visitor Information kiosk on the mall, and at the visitor centers inside the Wheeler Opera House and off Rio Grande Place, next to the Rio Grande parking garage.

Long-term parking is available at the parking garage, a block north of Main Street. It offers 24-hour covered parking that can be purchased by the hour or the day. The Galena Street Shuttle provides transportation around town from the Galena Street Plaza atop the garage. The shuttle runs continuously from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. Garage rates are $1.25 per hour or $12.50 maximum per day (24 hours). A 10-day discount pass is available for $40 and an unlimited pass, good for as many trips in and out of the garage as you want to make, sells for $150 per month.

To find the garage, if you’re coming from the west, or downvalley (Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt), turn left at the third traffic signal on Main Street (Highway 82 in downtown Aspen). You’ll be on Mill Street. Then make a right on Rio Grande Place and watch for the garage on the right. From the east (over Independence Pass in the summertime), turn right at the second signalized intersection on Main Street and then right again, off Mill Street and onto Rio Grande Place.

The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.

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