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Aspen Transportation

Getting There

Not many people go to Aspen via bus, but it's possible. Glenwood Springs, an hour's drive down the Roaring Fork Valley, is a stop on the Interstate 70 Greyhound run. Schedules vary by season and day of the week. From the east, Glenwood usually receives two or three arrivals daily through Denver at times varying from mid-morning to late evening. From the west, the Big Dogs reach Glenwood at times ranging from middle of the night to late afternoon or early evening. From Glenwood Springs, the ride continues with RFTA buses providing transportation to downtown Aspen. The local ride costs $7 each way.
Located 41 miles down the Roaring Fork Valley from Aspen, Glenwood Springs is served by Amtrak's California Zephyr, which runs between Oakland and Chicago. The trip from Denver to Glenwood is exciting with the train crawling up the mountains, passing through the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel and descending down beside the plunging Colorado River. On a good day, westbound service is scheduled to arrive in Glenwood at 1:53PM. Eastbound trains are targeted to arrive around 12:50PM. Keep in mind, this is Amtrak, so consider those scheduled times as fantasy approximations at best. From Glenwood Springs, RFTA buses provide transportation to downtown Aspen for about $7 each way.
Aspen visitors can choose between three airports. Closest is Aspen-Pitkin County (ASE) located at town's edge. Planes landing here are turboprops and commuter jets, primarily from Denver. Major hotels provide courtesy shuttles, or there are free Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) buses into town. Farther away but able to handle large jets is Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) along Interstate 70, a 90-minute drive from Aspen. In winter, the airport is served by American, Delta, Continental and United from a variety of hubs. Cars can be rented here, or Colorado Mountain Express can provide winter van service to Aspen. A third option is to fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and either rent a car or take the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle to Aspen. Denver fares tend to be less expensive, especially through Frontier and Southwest, but landing in the big city does require driving 225 miles across one 10,000-foot, possibly snow-covered pass and tunneling through another.  

Getting Around

In a town as small as Aspen, taxis are not often used, especially with most folks willing to ride the free and comfortable RFTA buses. Still, if you want to travel to a spot the buses don't go, want to have a more comfortable commute from one ski area to another, don't want to walk to dinner through a thunderstorm or blizzard, or simply don't want to rent a car, High Mountain Taxi comes to the rescue. They operate a load-toting fleet of Suburbans and Dodge Caravans. Fares are metered at $6.50 for the first mile and $3.25 thereafter. Call 970-925-8294 for pickup.
Public Transit
Financed largely through sales-tax dollars, RFTA (pronounced raf-tah) provides comfortable public transport around Aspen and beyond. Rides within town and between any of the four ski areas are free. Fares ranging from $1 to $10 apply to trips taken in outlying communities and to more distant destinations. In town, buses depart from the Rubey Park Transit Center at Durant Avenue and Mill Street. Most routes begin around 6AM and end around 2AM. The buses are clean and safe. With limited parking in town and at the ski areas, RFTA is by far the best way to get around.
Personal vehicles are handy in the summer, unless you never plan to leave civilization and head off into the hills. Come winter, on the other hand, cars can be an unnecessary hindrance. Aspen is quite walkable and RFTA buses service all four ski areas. If you do have a pressing need for your own wheels, a front-wheel-drive compact with good snow tires, and not "all season" variety, is usually adequate. Four-wheel or all-wheel drive is nice, but usually not needed. And don't think that just because you have a 4x4 you're invincible. Spun-off vehicles clogging highway medians are frequently 4x4s, often rentals, whose drivers apparently didn't think the laws of physics applied to them. Chains are rarely used in Colorado and virtually never required on private cars. Do make sure you get a decent window scraper, however, when you rent a car.