Gunnison North Rim and Aspen

[Black Canyon of the Gunnison/Aspen, CO, July 25, 2022]

The north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is remote and much less visited. It took us 90 minutes to get to it from Montrose. We knew we were in the middle of nowhere when the pavement ended and a well-graded dirt road began. For a lot of the drive around Crawford, the small town just outside the North Rim, we were surrounded by farm vehicles.

The longest hike on this side is the North Vista trail to the Green Mountain summit, about 7 miles. We did the first part of the trail to Exclamation Point, just under 4 miles. The views were better than at the south rim, and there is very little elevation gain. It made for a nice stroll before getting into the car for another 2.5 hours to Aspen.

the start of the North Vista trail

There is no visitor center on this side, only a seasonally staffed ranger station. It was closed when we got there but the park passport stamp was left out on the front porch!

North Rim ranger station

We got to Aspen before we could check in to our hotel, and we were starving anyway. We parked in the town center and set out to find some grub. Olivia’s research lead us to White House Tavern, apparently THE spot in town. I was a little skeptical but it was worth the wait and the hype. We split the crispy chicken sandwich and mango chicken salad and they were both to die for. The Aperol Spritz was excellent as well.

It was a nice introduction to perhaps the bougiest resort of them all. Aspen to me is the mountain version of Beverly Hills. It was quite the contrast from our solitary morning in the wilderness.

Our hotel was modest for the price point but it was walking distance from the town center and it had a pool and a hot tub. I spent a couple of hours enjoying them while Olivia caught up on work (I know, the travesty!) All of our hotels from this point forward had hot tubs and I was excited to get started on my hot tub crawl.

Pool at Hotel Aspen

For dinner, we walked over to Catch Steak, another amazing find by Olivia. We started with some sashimi and a Wagyu beef flight cooked at our table. We split the rib eye, which was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the creamiest mashed potatoes. The drinks were bomb and the dessert was a ridiculous chocolate gooey goodness served flambé. The people watching was one of my favorite parts. We spent a good amount of time trying to guess the average age difference between the men and the women amongst all the couples. Amazingly, the women were much younger than the men in every age bracket. It seemed consistent with the amount of wealth in town.

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