Aspen Access

Airports Near Aspen, Colorado

jet_slopesWhile Denver International Airport is Colorado’s largest airport and is generally the easiest and cheapest to fly into, it is a four-hour mountain drive to Aspen, and even farther from the western ski resorts of Telluride and Durango. Colorado High Country has a variety of airports that are closer to its world-class ski resorts, allowing for more direct, quicker travel.

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport ( is Aspen’s regional airport, just five minutes from the resort area. Take a morning flight and be skiing by afternoon. Two airlines service the airport: United Express, operated by SkyWest, and Republic, operated by Frontier. Direct flights are available from cities including Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago.

While Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is the most convenient airport to Aspen travel, there are other airports in the surrounding ski country that are much closer to Aspen than Denver. Further, so long as you don’t mind car travel, these airports will allow you to piece together trips with other famous Colorado ski resorts. Eagle County Regional Airport ( is about an hour and a half north of Aspen and is located conveniently to Vail and Beaver Creek. To the south, Gunnison airport ( is not much closer than Denver, but would allow you to combine a trip to Crested Butte, one of Colorado’s most challenging ski areas, with a trip to Aspen.

Airport Staff Reductions Reflect Long Decline of Aspen’s Evening Air Traffic

indexWhen the Federal Aviation Administration decided to cut the hours of air traffic controllers at Aspen’s Sardy Field starting Thursday, it came in response to a long-term decline in evening traffic at the airfield. Following an FAA review of average Aspen air traffic in recent months, the control tower will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Previously, at least one air traffic controller had worked the tower until 10 p.m.  Under FAA rules, the agency only puts an employee in an airport control tower if four or more planes per hour are arriving at or departing from the airport.
“In Aspen, for the most part, there are usually fewer than two operations an hour after 7 p.m., and in a lot of cases, there are zero per hour,” said Lynn Lunsford, the FAA public relations officer for the southwest region. “There are certain days where it might be higher, but those are the trends. In Aspen’s case we’ve had several years where we’ve been right on the edge of needing to reduce hours,” he said.
The latest studies show traffic is down compared to 2008, when the average number of planes coming and going from Aspen after 8 p.m. was around three per hour. That year, the FAA cut the number of controllers in the tower from two down to one after 8 p.m., meaning the latest cuts are merely an extension of a long-term trend toward lower staffing levels.

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Effort Aims To Boost Pitkin County’s Cell Coverage

Eventual relief may be in sight for cellphone users affected by the annoying holes in service in the Roaring Fork Valley and dead zones in places such as the Fryingpan and Crystal valleys.

Pitkin County has embarked on a study to find out where service is lacking and where there might be opportunities to install towers to boost cellular and broadband coverage.

“It became clear through the report findings that the county’s geography is extremely prohibitive in providing ubiquitous service,” said a recent memo from county staff members to the county commissioners. The county study collected 4 million data points throughout the area to determine where improvements are needed, according to County Manager Jon Peacock.

Nearly all carriers lack sufficient coverage in seven general areas of the broader Roaring Fork basin. Those are: along Highway 133 south of Carbondale, along Frying Pan Road east of Basalt, in a large portion of Snowmass Village, along Highway 82 east of Aspen, on Castle Creek Road, on Maroon Creek Road and on major portions of all four ski areas.

Now, the county is prioritizing sites to determine which to try to improve first. The Pitkin County Public Safety Council was consulted to find out where its efforts would be enhanced with increased service.

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Ski Free In Aspen With Killer Hotel Deals

Think you can’t afford Aspen? Think again. Two of the most elite hotels in town are offering can’t-miss winter season packages that include free ski passes.

It’s part of a “ski free” promotion designed to draw visitors back to the Rockies after last year’s notoriously dry winter. Happily, this year looks good, as I can attest from an Aspen visit earlier in the week, and the town is buzzing with holiday festivities.

Local favorite The Little Nell is offering two separate packages for skiers. “Ski Free” gives guests who stay three nights or longer up to two free lift tickets (by comparison, a two-day, seven-day advance purchase adult pass will run you $202, high season) per day. The “Ultimate Ski Free” package: Stay four nights, and ski gratis at all four mountains of Aspen/Snowmass (Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk), on top-of-the-line demo equipment. A full-day private lesson is also included.

The newly revamped, groovilicious Limelight Hotel is doing its own “Ski Free” special, in addition to offering complimentary snowshoes to all guests. The ski package includes up to two free lift tickets per day (good at all four mountains), with a three-night minimum stay, based upon availability; some blackout dates apply.

For $1,500, Locals Can Leave Their Mark on Bike Sharing Program

An Aspen bike sharing program set to launch in May has secured about two-thirds of the $650,000 in necessary start-up costs from the government and from private businesses or foundations. Its founder is hoping the community can come through with the rest by “adopting” and personalizing individual bikes.
For $1,500, a person or group of people can inscribe a message on the fender of one bike, where it will stay for five years. Or, you could adopt four bikes for $5,000.
Bike sharing programs are now active in 450 communities worldwide, allow anyone to check out a bike from a solar-powered, fully-automated, credit-card-accepting kiosk and return it to any other kiosk. WE-Cycle is planning to offer a day pass for between $5 and $8 but the program is designed for each trip to be 30 minutes or less. While a day pass allows a rider to check out a bike multiple times in a day, the user incurs more charges if the bike is away from a kiosk for more than 30 minutes at a time. That way, the program will not compete with bike shops’ rental business, and in fact, WE-Cycle kiosks and bikes will direct people to area bike shops, she said.

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