Who doesn’t love a drive through the mountains?

Denver to Aspen is the ultimate Colorado road trip.

So if you’re planning a trip to either locale, we definitely recommend renting a car and driving from one point to the other. 

In addition to the natural beauty that awaits you en route, there are plenty of fun towns and attractions to stop at along the way.

Continue reading for 10 places to see driving from Denver to Aspen.

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1. Denver

First stop: Denver!

The Mile High City is the capital of Colorado.

It is also the most populous city in the state, which means there is plenty of fun to be had here.

From family friendly attractions to top notch restaurants, taking time to properly explore Denver is a must before starting your drive to Aspen.

Attractions in Denver range from cultural to historic.

Be sure to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo, and the Downtown Aquarium.

For more information about the city’s history, visit the Molly Brown House Museum and the Colorado State Capitol.

There’s also Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre which is a great place to see a show or go for a stroll.

Finally, don’t miss the city’s top eateries, including Acorn (upscale American fare), El Five (Mediterranean tapas), and Hop Alley (modern Chinese eats).

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2. Golden

Once you’ve taken the time to experience Denver and are on the road, we recommend making your first pitstop in Golden.

Golden, Colorado is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and was made famous for the gold rush of 1859 that took place all around the city.

Due to the prominence of the gold rush, the city needed a way to transport the gold, which is where railways came in.

Trains have played an important role in Golden’s history, which is why you should stop by the Colorado Railroad Museum.

In addition to its rich history, Golden is also home to the Coors Brewery.

This brewery is the largest in the world and offers tours to visitors year round.

Golden also boasts plenty of beautiful natural scenery and parks.

Clear Creek White Water Park, Lookout Mountain, and South Table Mountain all offer outdoor activities, ranging from hiking to kayaking.

  • Location: West of Denver
  • Distance: 15.2 mi (24.5 km) via US-6 W/6th Ave
  • Duration: 25 min drive from Denver

3. Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel

Less than half an hour from Golden and you will come across the Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel.

This attraction is located in the small Colorado town of Idaho Springs.

It was previously a gold mining and milling site.

In fact, it was once the largest mill of its type in the world.

During its heyday, the Argo Mill processed over 100 million dollars worth of gold.

But today, it is a museum and heritage site open to visitors throughout the year.

Numerous exhibitions are on site to explain this fascinating era in Colorado’s history.

There is also an interactive element, in which visitors are invited to pan for gold.

Guided tours of the Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel are available.

Tours explain the tunnel’s origins, include a demonstration with the mining equipment, and show visitors an array of mining artifacts.

  • Location: 2350 Riverside Dr, Idaho Springs, CO
  • Distance: 23.4 mi (37.7 km) via I-70 W
  • Duration: 29 min drive from Golden

Official Site

4. Indian Hot Springs

As you’re driving to Aspen, why not stop for a relaxing detour?

In Idaho Springs, Colorado is where you will find Indian Hot Springs.

This historic hot springs is famous for just that – it’s natural hot spring water!

Pure mineral water flows into the communal bath at a temperature of 125 degrees.

The hot spring pool at Indian Hot Springs is located beneath a glass dome and surrounded by native plants.

This creates a tropical atmosphere that is calming and tranquil.

Beyond the main communal pool, Indian Hot Springs also has outdoor jacuzzis and indoor private baths.

There are even geothermal caves with soaking pools that date back to 1903.

The facility also has a full service spa on site that offers head to toe pampering. 

Therapeutic massages, sea salt body scrubs, and cupping are all offered here.

Finally, Indian Hot Springs has accommodation for guests looking to stay overnight.

  • Location: 302 Soda Creek Rd, Idaho Springs, CO
  • Distance: 0.6 mi (1 km) via Miner St and Soda Creek Rd
  • Duration: 3 min drive from Argo Gold Mill

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5. Georgetown

Keep driving and 45 miles from Denver you will see Georgetown, Colorado.

This municipality is located in Clear Creek County and was formerly a silver mining camp.

It is located along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and dates back to 1859, when the town was established during the peak of the Gold Rush.

The area is known for Georgetown Lake, a scenic lake that can be seen from the highway.

In the summer, it is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and boating. 

Echo Lake Park is also nearby.

Further, Georgetown has many attractions relating to its gold mining history, such as guided tours, museums, and a mining park.

Beyond the area’s gold history, Georgetown is also home to Hamill House Museum, Hotel de Paris Museum, Georgetown Energy Museum, and Georgetown Firefighting Museum.

Lastly, don’t miss a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad – an iconic activity in the former mining town.

  • Location: West of Denver
  • Distance: 13.1 mi (21.1 km) via I-70 W
  • Duration: 18 min drive from Indian Hot Springs

6. Copper Mountain

If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, then perhaps you’d like to check out another ski hill en route to Aspen.

If this is the case, then look no further than Copper Mountain.

Copper Mountain is a ski resort in Frisco, Colorado.

It is conveniently located off of Interstate 70, just 75 miles west of Denver.

Nearly 2,500 acres of skiable terrain await.

Beyond skiing and snowboarding, other activities like snow tubing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are offered at the resort.

There are also multiple boutique shops and gourmet restaurants.

Some of the top rated restaurants at Copper Mountain include The Eagle BBQ, Mahi’s Street Tacos, and Toast & Co.

Meanwhile, there are lodging options to suit all visitors, ranging from families to couples.

There are three villages at the resort and rooms range from full cabins to standard hotel rooms.

  • Location: 209 Ten Mile Cir, Frisco, CO
  • Distance: 34.3 mi (55.2 km) via I-70 W
  • Duration: 36 min drive from Georgetown

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7. Vail

Like your final destination (Aspen), Vail is an upscale alpine community in Colorado.

The small town lies at the base of Vail Mountain and home to the massive, luxurious Vail Ski Resort.

The town is often frequented by celebrities and professional athletes alike owing to its upscale vibe and top notch skiing facilities.

Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities on the mountain, but Vail also offers snow tubing, snow biking, and snowshoeing in the winter.

In the summer, ziplining, hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, and kayaking are all available to visitors.

In addition to outdoor activities, Vail has great shopping and restaurants.

West Vail Mall has many high end shops.

Some of the best restaurants include Sweet Basil, Almresi Vail, and Mountain Standard.

  • Location: West of Denver
  • Distance: 21.2 mi (34.1 km) via I-70 W
  • Duration: 25 min drive from Copper Mountain

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8. Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Stop and enjoy nature while driving from Denver to Aspen.

One of the best places to get some much needed rest and relaxation is Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

This unique hot springs site is located in the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs is set on the banks of the Colorado River and uses natural mineral hot spring water.

The springs are open year round and offer a variety of amenities.

There is a lodge-style bathhouse, as well as a freshwater family pool and 16 geothermal pools.

Pools are naturally shaped and feel like a natural extension of the rugged Colorado landscape.

Further, there is a cafe, called Sopris Cafe, and a bar called the Sand Bar that offers drinks and snacks.

Locker rooms and a gift shop are also available to guests.

When you’ve spent enough time soaking in the relaxing geothermal waters of Iron Mountain Hot Springs, take a quick drive into the town of Glenwood Springs in order to experience yet another Colorado gem.

  • Location: 281 Centennial St, Glenwood Springs, CO
  • Distance: 61.7 mi (99.3 km) via I-70 W
  • Duration: 1 h 2 min drive from Vail

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9. Snowmass Village

The tiny alpine town of Snowmass Village is one of the quaintest in all of Colorado.

It is only 15 minutes from your final destination of Aspen.

But it offers a much smaller town feel, with a population of less than 3,000 people.

Like Aspen, the dramatic mountains are the main attraction in Snowmass Village.

Skiing and snowboarding are both popular activities here.

And there are plenty of places to do it, such as Snowmass Ski Resort and Buttermilk Ski Resort.

During the summertime, be sure to go for a hike on Capitol Peak or Buckskin Pass.

Maroon Lake is another must and is famous for its mirror-like reflection of the mountains.

Snowmass Village is mostly known for its outdoor activities, but there are also some cultural attractions like the Anderson Ranch Arts Center and St. Benedict’s Monastery. 

  • Location: Southwest of Denver
  • Distance: 40.2 mi (64.7 km) via CO-82
  • Duration: 51 min drive from Iron Mountain Hot Springs

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10. Aspen

You’ve made it! 

Aspen, Colorado is one of the most naturally beautiful towns in all of the United States, which means it’s well worth spending at least a few days here.

First off, its famous around the world for being one of the best winter sport destinations.

Aspen Mountain Ski Resort is an adventure hub, with skiing and snowboarding available during the winter months.

The mountain town is lively year round but is especially busy during the winter.

Multiple ski resorts are in the area.

There are also plenty of upscale boutique shops mixed in with consignment shops and ski shops.

Restaurants in Aspen are diverse, from sushi at Matsuhisa to new American cuisine at Element 47.

Creperie du Village is another popular spot that serves sweet and savory crepes, fondue, and raclette. 

  • Location: Southwest of Denver
  • Distance: 8.3 mi (13.4 km) via Owl Creek Rd
  • Duration: 16 min drive from Snowmass Village

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As you can see, there is plenty of fun to be had on the drive from Denver to Aspen.

Between Copper Mountain, Vail, Georgetown, and more, we hope this list has inspired you on your upcoming Colorado road trip.

You can also rent a car from Aspen if you’re looking to do a road trip to Denver.

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