Where to Find Free Parking in Aspen?

Whether you’re a resident, employee, or visitor, understanding Aspen’s parking regulations and options is crucial to avoiding tickets and making the most of your time in this beautiful mountain town. In this guide, we’ll focus on finding free parking in Aspen, helping you save money and enjoy your stay without the stress of parking fees.

sign for Free Parking in Aspen

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come to Aspen. With its popularity comes the challenge of finding affordable parking, especially during peak seasons. While parking in Aspen can be challenging, it is nowhere near as expensive or hard to find as parking in Vail, which is just one of the many differences when comparing Aspen vs Vail.

Free Parking Options in Aspen

While free parking in downtown Aspen is limited, several options exist for those looking to avoid parking fees. These options may require more planning or a willingness to walk or take public transportation, but they can save you money and hassle in the long run.

Brush Creek Park and RideFree all-day parking, take the free Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus into townAlways available
Residential AreasMonday – Friday, 8 am – 6pm, 2-hour limitAfter 3 pm, subject to availability
Aspen Highlands ParkingFree parking at the base of the mountain after 3pm, great for afternoon ski sessions, spaces may be limitedAfter 3pm, subject to availability
Buttermilk Ski AreaFree parking in the main lot, take a free shuttle to other ski mountains or downtown AspenAlways available, shuttle service to other areas of Aspen

1. Brush Creek Park and Ride

Located about 6 miles outside of Aspen, the Brush Creek Park and Ride offers free all-day parking. From there, you can take the free Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus into town. This is an excellent option for those planning to spend the day exploring Aspen without the hassle of finding parking. The RFTA bus system is reliable, efficient, and a great way to reduce traffic congestion in the town center.

2. Residential Areas

Residential areas in Aspen offer free 2-hour parking once per day. This is perfect for quick errands or short visits to downtown. Just move your car after the 2-hour limit to avoid a ticket. Residential parking is enforced Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.

3. Aspen Highlands Parking

If you plan to ski at Aspen Highlands, you can park for free at the mountain’s base after 3 pm. This is a great option for those looking to enjoy some afternoon turns without paying for parking. Remember that spaces may be limited, so arrive early to secure a spot.

4. Buttermilk Ski Area

The Buttermilk Ski Area offers free parking in its main lot. You can take a free shuttle to the other ski mountains or downtown Aspen. This is a convenient option for those looking to explore multiple areas of Aspen without worrying about parking.

Parking Regulations in Aspen

The City of Aspen has implemented strict parking regulations to manage the limited space available and ensure a smooth traffic flow. These rules are designed to balance the needs of residents, employees, and visitors while maintaining the town’s accessibility and charm.

Downtown Parking

map of downtown Aspen parking locations
map of downtown Aspen parking locations

Metered parking is enforced Monday through Saturday in downtown Aspen from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rates vary depending on the time of day, with higher rates during peak hours to encourage turnover and ensure that spaces are available for those who need them most.

TimeRate per Hour
10 am – 11 am$4
11 am – 3 pm$6
3 pm – 6 pm$4

It’s important to note that metered parking has a 4-hour maximum, so keep track of your time and move your vehicle if necessary. On Sundays and holidays, parking is free, providing a welcome respite for those looking to explore the town without worrying about feeding the meter.

Residential Parking

cars parked with Aspen residential Parking

Parking is regulated in Aspen’s residential areas to ensure that residents and guests can park near their homes. Residents and lodges can obtain permits for extended parking, while visitors can purchase day passes for $8, allowing them to park all day in residential areas.

Aspen offers several paid parking options for those willing to pay for the convenience of parking closer to their destination. These options are ideal for those who value proximity and don’t mind paying a premium.

Rio Grande Parking Plaza

The Rio Grande Parking Plaza is a covered garage in downtown Aspen. Rates start at $2 per hour and max out at $12 per day, making it a relatively affordable option for those who need to park for an extended period.

1st Hour$2
2nd Hour$2
3rd Hour$2
4+ Hours$12 (Daily Maximum)

The garage also offers monthly and multi-day passes for those needing longer-term parking, providing a convenient solution for employees or frequent visitors.

Parking for RVs and Trailers

Due to limited space, parking RVs and trailers in Aspen can be challenging. However, there are a few options available for those traveling with larger vehicles:

  • The Brush Creek Park and Ride has a designated area for RV parking, making it a convenient option for those who don’t mind taking the bus into town.
  • The Aspen-Basalt Campground, located about 20 miles northwest of Aspen, offers RV sites with hookups. Although it is further from town, this option provides a comfortable base camp for exploring the area.
  • Some campgrounds in the White River National Forest, like Difficult Campground and Weller Campground, offer limited RV parking on a first-come, first-served basis. These campgrounds are perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the surrounding area’s natural beauty.

Tips for Navigating Aspen’s Parking

  1. Arrive early: Parking spaces fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. Arriving early in the day will give you the best chance of finding a spot, whether you’re looking for free or paid parking.
  2. Use public transportation: Aspen has an extensive free bus system that can help you avoid the hassle of parking altogether. Consider leaving your car at your hotel or vacation rental and using the bus to get around town. Not only will this save you money on parking, but it will also reduce traffic congestion and help preserve Aspen’s pristine environment.
  3. Carpool: If traveling with a group, consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles you need to park. This saves money on parking, reduces your carbon footprint, and helps alleviate traffic congestion in the town center.
  4. Use parking apps: The City of Aspen offers a parking app that allows you to pay for metered parking from your phone. This can be a convenient way to avoid running back to the meter to add time, ensuring you can enjoy your time in Aspen without worrying about parking tickets.
  5. Consider alternative transportation: In addition to the bus system, Aspen offers a variety of alternative transportation options, including biking and walking. The town has an extensive network of bike paths and pedestrian-friendly streets, making it easy to explore without a car. Many hotels also offer free shuttles to popular destinations like the ski mountains, so be sure to check with your accommodations to see what transportation options are available.
  6. Take advantage of hotel shuttles: If you’re staying at one of Aspen’s many hotels, you may not need to worry about parking. Many hotels offer free shuttles to take guests to and from the slopes and other popular destinations around town. This can be a convenient and stress-free way to explore Aspen without the hassle of finding parking. Some notable hotels that offer this service include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and the St. Regis Aspen Resort.
  7. Explore alternative parking options: If you’re flying into Aspen and looking to avoid the hassle of parking altogether, consider using a shuttle service like Blue Sky Limo. We offer convenient and reliable airport shuttle transportation from Denver Airport to Aspen. You can avoid the stress of navigating Aspen’s parking regulations using a shuttle service and focus on enjoying your time in this beautiful mountain town.

Final Thoughts About Finding Free Parking in Aspen

If you are driving into Aspen, finding free parking may require extra planning and effort, but enjoying this world-class ski destination is possible without breaking the bank on parking fees. By taking advantage of options like the Brush Creek Park and Ride, residential areas, and free parking at ski areas, you can save money and still experience all that Aspen offers.

Remember to arrive early, use public transportation when possible, and consider alternative transportation options to maximize your time in Aspen. With a little preparation and flexibility, you can navigate Aspen’s parking landscape and focus on enjoying the stunning mountain views, vibrant arts and culture scene, and world-class skiing that make this town a true gem of the Rockies.