Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado (Matt Inden/Weaver Multimedia Group/CTO)

View of Aspen in the summer from a gondola (Denise Chambers/Weaver Multimedia Group/CTO)

Aspen, Colorado (iStockphoto)

Aerial view of Aspen, Colorado (Jeremy Swanson)

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What to do in Aspen

Don’t let rumors of Aspen—Mariah Carey, Arab princesses, mink coats—turn you off. Their glitz has nothing on the natural beauty of the perpetual calendar centerfolds: the mudstone Maroon Bells, the screaming green Roaring Fork Valley, and the intense yellow of the area’s namesake tree. The four hills here—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—have some of the most varied terrain in the state, if not the country. Despite a hoity-toity résumé, the town is liberal, athletic, and unpretentious, with competitions like the Winter X Games, events like Gay Ski Week, and landmarks like the Woody Creek Tavern (where beloved local gonzo Hunter S. Thompson used to tipple). The upside to all the cash is the worldliness it brings—the local art scene matches that of some international cities, all in a town of less than 7,000 people.

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