Summer Resorts 2003: Aspen, Colorado

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Mtn Summer 0503

After the snow melts, Aspen/Snowmass becomes a cultural and recreational paradise for any breed of summer vacationer, not just the fur-clad snow bunnies of winter fame. Blooming wildflowers paint Ajax's mountainside trails, the gold-medal waters of the Roaring Fork River flow high, and aspen trees rustle in unison with strains from the Aspen Music Festival tent (June 19-Aug. 17).

Visit the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area to hike through dense forests. After climbing to 11,200 feet, soak your hardworking legs in Conundrum's natural hot springs. Meander through the ghost town of Ashcroft, abandoned in 1912, and then attempt the incline to American Lake. Don't miss practicing your cast on the Frying Pan River with a pro from the Taylor Creek Fly Shop (970-927-4374).

Reward a hard day's recreation with culinary treats. No mountain valley rivals the Roaring Fork for fine dining. In June, food connoisseurs from around the country descend on Aspen for Food & Wine Magazine's annual Food and Wine Classic (June 13-15). The rest of the summer, they restaurant-hop. For French fare, it's Cache Cache downtown. For Italian, they head to Il Poggio in Snowmass Village. And for those who value quantity over quality, Little Annie's has happy hour beers and behemoth burgers.

As you wind down in the cool mountain air, you'll embrace what the locals know: An Aspen/Snowmass summer is second only to an Aspen/Snowmass winter.

•DON'T MISS Starting your day with yoga atop Aspen Mountain ($15, one hour).

•BEST DEAL In July, four nights' lodging and breakfast at the Molly Gibson Lodge starts at $210 per person, double occupancy. 888-452-2409; aspensnowmass.com