Getting Oriented

Wedged in a valley between the Elk Mountain palisades to the southwest and the high-altitude massifs of the Sawatch Range in the east, the Roaring Fork Valley is a Rocky Mountain Shangri-la. The charm and beauty of this isolation makes reaching Aspen a scenic journey, but also one that can be frustrating. Aspen's explosive growth hasn't come without some headaches. Despite expanded lanes, Highway 82 quickly clogs with skiers and day commuters.

Aspen. Head here for a dose of the high life in an almost too-pretty town. The aspen-draped Maroon Bells peaks are one of the state's iconic images.

The Roaring Fork Valley. Snowmass is a year-round family resort destination rather than a true town. The historic towns of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Redstone offer a pleasant—and less expensive—alternative experience, and have great biking, fly-fishing, and rafting in summer.

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