Spotlight: Aspen

The ultimate destination for you and your sporting dog

By Si Si Penaloza


Aspen is America’s poster town for healthy living. Whether it’s hiking up trails in summer or whizzing down slopes in winter – Aspen offers a calorie-burning playground of high altitude thrills. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with your dog, spoiling them silly with what they crave most – your undivided attention. With a panorama of parks, trails and streams to play with your pooch, Aspen is truly a beacon for sporting dogs and their sporty humans.

No other destination caters to the family dog like Aspen, the get-outside-fresh-air capital of Colorado. Hotels, restaurants, retailers and even local banks all have amenities specific to dogs traveling with their owners, making Aspen a heavenly spot for our best friends. Stroll down the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall and stop in C.B. Paws, a posh boutique featuring dog couture to die for. Or better yet, splurge on a doggy down coat at Moncler boutique on East Hyman.

Photo credit: mobil’homme/CC

Aspen offers miles of hiking and walking trails, including the beginner level Rio Grande Trail, the beloved Smuggler/Hunter Creek Trail, and the challenging Ute Trail. In 2010, Smuggler Mountain Road on the southeast side of town became an official off-leash area for dogs, making this heart-pumping hike for humans a kind of open-space dog park. Dogs are permitted on the Silver Queen Gondola in the summer, so hikers can take their pooches to the top of Aspen Mountain and out on Richmond Ridge.

With seven of America’s 10 most popular resorts, Colorado is the alpha force of US skiing. Aspen, Breckenridge and Keystone each draw more than a million skiers each season with immaculately groomed slopes, divine dining and casual celebrity sightings – many with dog in tow! Meanwhile, Telluride offers some of the freshest bowls and chutes in the state, with a more low key Main Street. Smoke puffs from the chimneys of little log cabins, while sunlight sparkles on a sedate woodland of blue spruce, aspen and fir. Here, it’s all about the mountain.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Swanson

Aspen Snowmass is so much more than the cold weather hot tub capital of America. Owned and operated by the Aspen Skiing Company, this ultimate powder paradise is made up of four adjacent peaks – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass – collectively forming one of the most prestigious winter resorts in the world. At sunrise, this pristine matrix of virgin runs lies scattered across the Rockies; natural snow glistens like diamond dust, a carpet of limitless possibilities. After a few leg-burning runs, the best reward is cuddling up by the hotel fire with your best friend at Hotel Jerome or The Little Nell.


Hotel Jerome | Aspen


Fresh from a multimillion-dollar makeover, the venerable Hotel Jerome, first opened in 1889, thrives with an upscale, private club-inspired decor that draws on the original hotel’s iconic bone structure. Period antiques now mingle with contemporary steamer trunks. Sprawling guest rooms with soaring ceilings pay homage to the Old West, with cowhide chairs and buffalo plaid ottomans. Once you’ve kicked back on a leather club chair in the Living Room lounge, you never want to leave – this lively gathering space with cozy seating areas is pitch perfect. The legendary J-Bar is the town’s social hotspot, attracting ski bums, socialites, cowboys and luminaries like the late Hunter S.Thompson.

Hotel Jerome, as you would expect from an Auberge Resort, boasts one of the most thoughtfully conceived and well-executed pet programs in the nation, welcoming dogs of all sizes. Pets are greeted with a playful welcome amenity and the hotel also provides complimentary doggy beds and bowls, along with a dog menu featuring salmon and rice and other delectable fare. Allow Hotel Jerome to pack a picnic basket for a day trip and go to one of the endless chain of parks, trails and streams to play with your furry friend.

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For well over a century, Hotel Jerome has defined the true character of Aspen, a hearty community showing off an authentic mountain spirit. It’s the perfect oasis for your pup to find his bearings at the end of an active day. Don’t miss capturing photos of your cuddle-bug in the historic mise-en-scene of Hotel Jerome, it’s one of the most iconic photo ops on the mountain.


The Little Nell | Aspen


No resort town boasts as pet-friendly a vibe as Aspen, and hotels such as The Little Nell are a true testament to this. There’s even a Puppy Jet Lag Kit if the altitude isn’t suiting your little one. Expect the same service from the neighboring Residences at the Little Nell. Upon arrival, guests register their pets and alert the concierge to any particular needs of their pet. Pets are presented with a brass identification tag stamped with the hotel’s address and phone number – now that’s Little Nell chic.

The Little Nell’s Living Room and Terrace Bar invite dogs to join in on the five-star dining. It’s a taboo we admit we’ve always dreamed of – fine dining adventures with our dogs. Look no further; this is one of the rare spots in the world with a full “this is no joke” dégustation menu for dogs. Most towns frown on such sanitation infringements. Not Aspen. Let’s face it, these are not normal dogs. The pampered pets blessed to dine at The Little Nell are the one percent of dogs living with the top one percent of high-net worth individuals.

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As many guests at The Little Nell are high-profile, the hotel’s pet amenities are top notch – including a Little Nell leash, food and water bowls, dog beds, pet menu selections (such as tenderloin of beef with scrambled eggs and brown rice or grilled salmon with carrots and brown rice), petiquette handbook of guidelines and gourmet doggie biscuits. From here, it’s easy to take your pup to Wagner Park in downtown Aspen, one of the best places in town for dogs to let loose.