Ah, spring: when snowmelt swells in direct proportion to Aspen’s mass exodus. In fact, average citywide occupancy drops from sixty to seventy percent in February and March to just twenty to twenty-five percent in April in May, according to Stay Aspen Snowmass president Bill Tomcich.
The upside? Fewer people with whom to compete for special, once-a-year opportunities like these.
An Automobile-Free Independence Pass
Car-phobic cyclists tackle the grind up and zoom down the Pass months before the vehicular invasion. You can, too—until May 25, when it reopens to cars. “Check for debris on the road as you’re going up and remember any adverse conditions,” instructs Bubba Scott of Ute City Cycles. “And pack extra clothes—when you descend, it’s dramatically cooler.” Don’t fret if you’re passed by a grunting maniac with skis strapped to his back. That’s what we call “an overachiever.” On Saturday, May 20, road bikers rejoice for the annual Ride for the Pass—a recreational race benefiting the Independence Pass Foundation’s restoration work. $45, independencepass.org
Watch the Raging Runoff on Area Waterways and Starry Night Sky With ACES
“Castle and Maroon Creeks, Woody Creek, Brush Creek, Owl Creek, even the Roaring Fork itself—none rise to the drama of Hunter Creek,” says Tom Cardamone, former president and chief ecologist at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. “The air is full of mist, the creek is pounding, rocks are rolling—it’s the most accessible spring runoff event.” Catch the best views from four wooden bridges over the cascades on Hunter Creek Trail. On Monday, May 15 (8 p.m.), explore the Big Bang theory at the last of ACES' Winter Astronomy Nights. $5, acesaspen.org
Catch a Show at Belly Up—for Free
Ever loyal to local patrons, Aspen’s star-studded stage offers sweet gigs gratis year-round, but the freebies really pick up in April and May. Call it a musical odyssey of chance—without risk. “It’s a time to enjoy the club, explore new music, and not pay a cover when [for local worker bees] it might be more difficult to pay a cover,” says Belly Up owner Michael Goldberg. Get in while you can, as many past no-charge acts—Delta Rae, Lukas Nelson, Black Pistol Fire—returned for ticketed sophomore shows. bellyupaspen.com
See 5Point Film Festival's Encore Performance
If you didn't make it down to Carbondale for the 10th Annual 5Point Film Festival in April, they're taking their show up valley for a one-night showcase on Saturday, May 20 (7 p.m.) featuring the best short documentaries from this year's outdoor adventure-focused program. $22, wheeleroperahouse.com
[this article was updated on April 26, 2017]