Colorado : Safety by City
- Cañon City
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Grand Junction
You might have already heard that Aspen, Colorado is a resort getaway town for the rich, powerful, and popular.
I’m here to tell you – you’re absolutely right.
Even the Chamber of Commerce orders you to “Defy Ordinary” during your visit to this city nearly 8,000 feet above sea level.
This is an expensive ski town and resort region that has been seeing an influx in the population since the pandemic as rich people realized they can work from home and might as well do so in a beautiful mountain area.
There’s even a street here nicknamed Billionaire’s Mountain (the real name is Red Mountain, just in case Jeff Bezos invites you over to a party, you know the right street to put into GPS maps).
The affluence spreads even into the streets of Aspen, where Prada, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and Kemo Sabe for the ultra-elite, all line the streets along with souvenir shops and outdoor gear stores.
It’s not even natural here to say “What are you doing later?”.
Instead, you’d say, “Meet up Apris Ski?” (Meaning “after skiing”).
Just get used to the phrase “Apres Ski.”
It’s used a lot here in conversation and event listings.
Yes, you can ski at one of four incredible resorts, but we’re defying ordinary, REMEMBER?
How about a sled ride starting with a world-class meal followed by eight sled dogs pulling you along through a fresh snowfall?
Dinner at the top of a mountain under a full moon?
A ghost town tour where the rich took their money and ran?
There’s so much to do in Aspen for all budgets, but let’s be honest – it’s geared toward the affluent traveler.
Warnings & Dangers in Aspen
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There were more bear sightings in Aspen than thefts and assaults combined in 2021. That's a really low risk unless you're a bear. While it's not crime-free, it's about as close as you can get in many important areas to travelers.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Aspen takes your carbon footprint very seriously and provides many ways to ditch the car and travel around the area. There are free shuttle options to take you to and from ski resorts or around the popular dining and shopping areas. Bicycle lanes and trails are popular. At some point, you'll be expected to ditch the car and only use public transportation or your own two feet. All options have a low risk for travelers and a high risk of being chastised if you don't follow the green transportation policies.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of being pickpocketed, as I'm sure there are wealthier pockets to pick (no offense), but theft crimes are incredibly low here and even the police said this about theft in 2021, "In 2021, we saw a 63% increase in theft, much that could have been prevented if precautions were taken, such as locking car doors and bikes." I think that's a nice way of saying if you are a victim of theft, it's 63% your fault.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wildfires and extreme snowfall are two of the biggest and most serious concerns. Wildfires in Colorado get worse every year and the ones that don't impact a community could still create unbreathable air from smoke. In winter, every skier loves fresh powder, but too much snow can be dangerous for travel and skiing, from avalanche risks to impassible roads. Even the elite financiers of this city can't pay to avoid a natural disaster. There's medium risk.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There have been two robberies in the past 5 years in Aspen, so you face a low risk of it happening to you.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
You'd think an area with some of the richest people in the world might pique the terrorist's interest, but since this is probably just one of 10 homes people like Jeff Bezos own, it's too hard to plan when they would be in this location. There's an overall low risk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There were 114 incidents of fraud reported in 2021, up from 46 in 2020. Most of the scams here are focused on real estate, but be careful of home rental scams as you plan your visit. You are never, ever, going to find a deal too good to be true in Aspen. There's a low risk the average person will be scammed, but if you are affluent, be sure you're renting from a legitimate source, or have your administrative assistant check.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women have a low risk when traveling here. This is a ski town catering to keeping women happy and your biggest risk is going to be splurging at Gucci and being sticker-shocked at the price during checkout.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Not only is the water very low risk, but the city also dang near insists you do not drink bottled water during your stay. As part of the green initiative, the city has placed Aspen Tap Water fountain stations around the city so you can fill up a reusable container and never have to throw a bottle away.
Safest Places to Visit in Aspen
Aspen has four ski resort areas.
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.
For those who want death-defying leaps and X Games-style half pipes, Buttermilk is the place to be.
The best family-friendly option is Snowmass and it’s also home to the tallest vertical drop in the nation.
Aspen Highlands is the least crowded place year-round.
Aspen Mountain is famous for many reasons, but its black diamond runs are one of the biggest draws and this isn’t a place for beginners.
Unlike Vail, Aspen might have separate ski resorts, but all the non-skiing action is in the center of downtown, near Aspen Mountain.
In addition to high-end stores and dining for Apres Ski, you can visit the John Denver Sanctuary for some alone time, meditation, or a family tour.
One of the most unique experiences here is the Karbloonik Dog Sledding Adventure.
Two adults and a small child can fit per ride with eight Alaskan huskies race you through the backcountry.
This is not a slow ride like a horse-drawn carriage, but it’s also not quite the Iditarod.
I just got distracted for 15 minutes looking at the videos of this novel activity and the adorable yet rugged kennel of dogs.
You can also explore the Wheeler/Standard Museum for a look at the late 1800s luxurious life in Aspen.
Once owned by a large stakeholder in Macy’s department stores, this mansion is exquisite and hosts outdoor events in the summer.
For those who love ghost towns, you’ve got two nearby to explore.
Both Ashcroft and Independence will set you back $5 per person to explore what was once a booming mining town that now rests in shambles.
Places to Avoid in Aspen
There are no dangerous parts of the city as far as crime is concerned.
While you should always assume there’s a risk of theft in a high-traffic tourist area, you know the basics of keeping your personal belongings safe.
You should avoid getting pressured into a ski run or a backcountry ski adventure if you’re not skilled enough to do so.
Combine the exertion skiing requires with a high altitude, and then you risk getting injured and not being able to find your way back.
Avoid trying to “live like the locals” if you can’t afford it.
Yes, it’s nice to splurge on vacation a little bit, but you could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars here without trying too hard.
There are campgrounds and glamping options to make the price not quite as steep.
You should also avoid doing too much too soon as the altitude sickness here can really get to you.
An intense headache is one sign your body is having a hard time acclimating.
You should drink plenty of water and some swear by Ginko Biloba to help ward off altitude sickness if you take it for five days before your trip.
Either way, you shouldn’t plan on dropping your bags and hitting the slopes if you don’t come from a high-altitude area.
Give your body a day to adjust.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Aspen
- 2021 brought 312 bear sightings to Aspen and that was just the calls to the police department. Black bears roam this area and if you see them in town you need to call 911. There are so many bears in this area that even the state Wildlife Department needs local police to help.
- If you do see a bear, do not approach it. When a bear stands on its back legs, it’s not being threatening, it’s trying to figure out what you are. If you slowly back away without turning around and talk in a normal human voice, the bear should retreat. If you see a bear on your rental property, bang pots and pans together from a safe distance or yell and scream to get them to go back into the woods. The bear doesn’t really want anything to do with you unless you’ve left food outside. Then it wants to move in and tear up your kitchen.
- The Colorado Department of Wildlife has a great way to determine if you are too close to wildlife. If you see a bear, coyote, or mountain lion, hold up your thumb in the direction of the animal. If you can see the animal outside of your thumb, you are too close. It’s called “Don’t be dumb, use your thumb.”
- The Colorado Department has quite a sense of humor too, listing drivers in Colorado as either “The Prepared” or “The Clueless.” Be sure to prepare if you are driving into Aspen, especially during winter weather. Top off all fluids on your way up into the mountains, check tire pressure, bring snow chains for the tires, and bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Also, bring along a shovel, blanket, and towing straps in case you need to be pulled out of a ditch.
- Sign up for Pitkin County alerts so you know if there’s a wildfire or snow emergency happening, and also if there are any other kinds of civil emergencies.
- There’s a popular activity that could be required to see some of the dining options in Aspen. It’s called “skinning.” This is when you ski uphill without picking a ski off the ground. You will need special equipment to skin, so ask at the resort before you attempt this.
- When riding a bicycle on roads in Aspen, you should know the law states a bicyclist is the same as a motor vehicle. That means you must stop at red lights, and can’t just roll through stop signs.
- For summer visitors who want to hike, check the forecast before you go. This mountain region can kick up severe thunderstorms in the afternoons often in the summer. It’s best to hike as early in the day as possible, and if at any point you see clouds building, go back home. The best practice is to leave between dawn and 9 am if you plan to summit a mountain or go more than eight miles. If you can’t do that, then don’t go that day.
- Bring a whistle with you anytime you go deep into the mountains. This is going to be heard for a long distance and you probably won’t have mobile phone service. Hiking in a group of three is ideal in case someone gets hurt. That leaves one person to help the injured and a third to go back for help.
- If you are traveling in a vehicle that is longer than 35 feet long, there’s a traveling restriction for getting to Aspen. You cannot take these over Independence Pass. Even if you’re in a smaller vehicle, this pass can be dangerous. There are narrow, winding roads and risks of falling boulders and bicyclists on the road. Take your time and pay attention to the road. It’s closed half of the year because with the snowfall it’s just too dangerous to drive on.
So... How Safe Is Aspen Really?
The Aspen Police Department is very transparent with crime rates and posted its 2021 Annual Crime Report.
Here are some of the biggest crime categories:
- 14 Car Thefts
- 222 Personal Property Thefts
- 48 Assaults
- 54 DUIs
- 844 Animal Calls (Bears, elk, bobcats, etc.)
- 332 Mental Health Calls
The police department is very engaged with the community and the community members, even part-time residents, are savage about keeping the city safe, the air clean, the environment protected, and the town pristine.
When you’re in Aspen, play by the rules and you should have few risks if any.
How Does Aspen Compare?
- Visas - Once you've entered the United States and your passport or visa has been approved, you can freely travel throughout the states and cities. You don't need to be processed at each step of your trip.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only form of currency accepted here and in such an elite town you'll have little need for cash. A credit card should suffice and there are a lot of items like lift tickets and attractions you can purchase in advance.
- Weather - Winter can have highs well below freezing. You'll need to wear layers, especially while skiing, as you'll get warm enough to possibly shed a layer or two, but you still want to protect yourself from frostbite. In warmer months, always bring rain gear as storms can pop up suddenly. You'll want good, worn-in hiking boots to protect your ankles. Buy bear spray, a whistle, and a foghorn to keep you safe while hiking or camping.
- Airports - Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is less than four miles from the center of town. It's a regional airport that can get you to Denver or Dallas. Normally, I'd recommend driving to a bigger airport for more direct flights, but it's a four-hour drive that can be impacted by wildfires or snowfall along I-70 and if the interstate shuts down, you're stuck waiting for hours or even days. The Grand Junction Airport is two hours west if the I-70 closure is only east of the Aspen exit.
- Travel Insurance - You don't want to lose money in this affluent town before you even get there, so get some travel insurance. There are just too many things that can close roadways here and not a lot of backup options.
Aspen Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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