The Upper Valley’s Most Insta-Worthy Spots
Lucy Lea Tucker | October 16, 2019
On vacation and looking for that break-the-internet photo? Aspen offers many options, but be advised—exertion may be required.
1. FROM RED MOUNTAIN
For sweeping views of Aspen set against the stately Elk Mountains, drive up Red Mountain Road toward Hunter Creek trailhead parking lot. Before the trailhead, pull off in front of a private residence mailbox at the top of a downward sloping driveway. Snap away.
2. TOP OF TIEHACK – BUTTERMILK
For one of the best views of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley, head up Tiehack (at Buttermilk). In the winter, the chairlift deliver skiers and riders to the top. But in the summer, the view must be accessed by foot power. The hike is slow, steady and steep; a 1,700-foot gain over 2 miles. A retired wok converted into a gong lives at the top, outside of the Asian-themed Cliffhouse restaurant (which is only open during winter.) Insert the “Volume Up” graphic and bang that gong—boom!
3. TOP OF UTE TRAIL
After a tough 45 minutes of steep, uphill switchbacks for 1 mile and around 1,000 feet in elevation gain, your reward is a stunning, panoramic view atop this craggy peak—Independence Pass to the east, the town of Aspen directly below and the Roaring Fork valley stretching out to the west. Catch your breath and take it in—you will feel top of the world and surely get a “100.”
4. SMUGGLER PARK
This grassy knoll is the perfect spot to catch no-filter-required sunsets at the base of Smuggler Mountain. Boomerang outtakes of Frisbee-throwing, dog-walking and happy-hour reveling are encouraged.
5. STREET ART
Known for his vibrant Obama campaign posters, Shepard Fairey came to Aspen in 2018 to paint “Ideal Power,” a wall mural on the alley that stretches between Big Wrap and Belly Up. Fit the top of Aspen Mountain into your frame and wait for colorful passersby to capture an edgy street life scene in this quaint mountain town.
6. ASPEN ART MUSEUM
The saying goes, “Art imitates life,” and there’s no better way to illustrate this than the stunning roof-deck sculpture garden at the Aspen Art Museum. With ever-changing contemporary art and sculptures and a view that never gets old, this snapshot will most definitely win you culture points.
7. SOUTH RIM TRAIL / YIN YANG
For an incredible photo opp, hikers can explore the well-worn, moderate 1.3-mile Rim Trail hike in both winter and summer. An inlaid marble yin yang design at the top offers a great place to stop, strike a balancing pose and admire the 360-degree views.
8. THE FOUNTAIN
In the middle of Aspen’s downtown, this one-of-a-kind fountain surrounded by cafe tables, blooming flower baskets and the charming brick walking mall is pure entertainment and a cool refuge on hot summer days. An IG video, with the grandiose Wheeler Opera House standing tall in the background, captures this iconic Aspen summer ritual perfectly, as kids with balloons and dogs with balls splash in the rising and falling water streams.
9. THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
Take in pictureworthy marble sculptures, a unique Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome and an earthwork sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, all set within Bauhaus-style architecture of the Aspen Meadows Resort. The deck at Plato’s restaurant offers views of three of the four mountains that comprise the ski resort, but the real tip here is to be ready to snap a selfie with a notable luminary—chances are good you’ll bump into the likes of Madeleine Albright or other distinguished guest lecturers.
10. MAROON BELLS
The Bells, said to be North America’s most photographed mountains, should be on your IG feed speed dial. Avoid crowds and drive up early to greet the sunrise. Stroll around Maroon Lake to catch the Bells reflection in the lake. Querying “When do the Maroon Bells ring?” could make for the pinnacle LOLzer IG comment.
Aspen Chamber Resort Association encourages locals and visitors to use: “Tag Responsibly, Take the Aspen Pledge” as your location status, where appropriate, to prevent your IG followers from literally following you into some wild and coveted locales. Instead of showing one’s exact specified latitude and longitude, this tag is featured on general nature shots, backcountry recreation and lesser known sites on all @aspenco social posts to keep Aspen’s natural beauty intact for future generations.