In a town as small as Aspen, it might be hard to believe that there are over 30 parks. After living in Aspen for 12 years, I tried to name and count them all, but I came up short and had to double check the City of Aspen Parks Department’s website. With so much open space, the possibilities for “picnicking” are endless, but I’ve narrowed down a few ideas for you.
Hop on a bike, grab some snacks and ride to the below spots for pure picnicking bliss.
Morning Picnic – Spring Cafe & Heron Park
Starting your day with an al fresco breakfast (maybe after a moving meditation at O2 Aspen or hike up the Ute Trail) is the perfect way to maximize your Aspen experience. Pick up vegan breakfast treats, fresh cold-pressed juice, and your favorite caffeinated beverage from Spring Cafe and head down to nearby Heron Park. Located on the east side of town where Main Street ends and becomes Original Curve, Heron Park is situated at the start of the 40 mile Rio Grande Trail which also makes it the perfect place to start or end a bike ride. (Map)
The shallow, calm section of river on the edge of the park also makes it the ideal spot for dogs and kiddos alike to cool off.
Afternoon – Big Wrap & Glory Hole Park
If you’re planning a picnic for lunchtime, it’s important to find a park that won’t be super crowded. I love Rio Grande and Wagner Parks, but midday they are full of families and dogs. My friends and I love to take pups to both parks on our lunch breaks, but if you’re trying to eat, you will have to closely watch your food!
My favorite lunch spot is Big Wrap. I have a rotating set of special orders that owner/local legend Babs knows by heart; I recommend the Pesto Wrapture, Hail Caesar, and Garden of Eatin’. All can be made in a wrap or (gluten free) in a bowl, and there are plenty of meat substitutes for vegetarians and vegans.
After picking up your order (place it over the phone to avoid the long lunchtime lines), head to Glory Hole Park for a peaceful picnic experience. (Map)
For the most epic sunset view in town, Molly Gibson Park is your best bet. Located at the base of the super popular Smuggler Mountain Trail, Molly Gibson Park overlooks the entire town of Aspen. (Map) It’s the perfect place for a pre-dinner picnic with friends, dogs, and snacks. Since you’ll be heading up there at dusk, I’d bring along a bottle of Whispering Angel from the Grog Shop, and a selection of Avalanche goat cheese, ripe Colorado peaches, and fresh Louis Swiss bread from the Farmer’s Market.
A Final Word
One last bit of advice as you plan a picnicking adventure in Aspen: make sure to clean up after your group! Bears are in town, they’re hungry, and they’ll flock to any park where food scraps are left behind. Bear activity can necessitate park closures, and that can put a huge damper on many people’s’ fun weekend plans, so do some karmic good and make sure to leave our parks in the same condition you found them.
Want to explore all of Aspen’s parks? Take a look at the Aspen Parks & Recreation Opportunity Guide and come up with a unique idea of your own.