Colorado for Fido


Aspen is one of the dog-friendliest towns we've visited. Within minutes of our arrival, we were greeted by a man who mistook Clover for an established Aspenite:"I guess if you move to Aspen, you have to get a dog," he commented. "Everyone seems to have one." And, according to one local, golden retrievers and yellow labs are the breeds of choice.

Dogs are welcome on the downtown pedestrian mall, which includes several fountains. The one at the corner of Hyman and Mill—columns of water of varying heights that spurt unpredictably through a grate—is especially appealing to dogs. And your dog need not worry about missing out on any of the chi-chi shopping opportunities for which Aspen is renowned; almost every store allowed Clover as a customer.

Aspen's powers that be recognize that dogs need to recreate too; thus—surprise!—dogs are allowed off leash in almost all city parks (with the exception of Herron, which is maintained as a family park). Be extra diligent in making sure your leash-free dog remains courteous, however, so that Aspen dogs may continue to enjoy this privilege.

Cycling for Canines

Some of the more popular Aspen biking routes—Smuggler Mountain Rd. and the Government Trail—are not suitable to do with dogs due to leash requirements (Smuggler because it's a county road, the Government Trail for wildlife protection). Instead try the unpaved portion of the Rio Grande Trail (which is less crowded than the paved part that runs through town); the Hunter Creek/Hunter Valley Trail (begin from the upper access—Red Mountain Rd. to Hunter Creek Rd.); or Aspen Mountain. (See "Tail-Rated Trails" for descriptions of these three.) Another option is the 10-mile round-trip ride on Lincoln Creek Rd. from Grizzly Reservoir to the ghost town of Ruby. For more detailed information about these rides, look at the single-sheet ride descriptions issued at the Aspen Ranger District office (see "Resources"), or pick up a copy of the brochure "Bike Maps of Aspen" at one of the bike shops in town.


The Hunter Creek/Hunter Valley Trail and the Rio Grande Trail make great ski or snowshoe outings.Though dogs are not allowed on the trails at the Ashcroft Ski Touring Center, they can accompany their skiing or snowshoeing owners on the unplowed section of Ashcroft Rd. beyond, which extends for about 2 miles. Dogs can be off leash as long as they refrain from trotting over to any of the nearby nordic trails. And you can have lunch at the Pinecreek Cookhouse as long as you access it via the Ashcroft Rd. and tie up your dog at least 100 yards from the restaurant.

During the winter and much of the spring, Independence Pass Rd. is closed to vehicles just past the Difficult Creek Campground, 3.5 miles east of Aspen, allowing you and your dog to ski or snowshoe. Be aware that there is avalanche danger in areas.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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