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Visa for Aspen, Colorado USA

Updated: Jan 21, 2024  | Tags: ESTA, Aspen, USA Visa

Information on visiting Aspen and needing a visa for Aspen.

Aspen is the crown jewel of Colorado. Situated amid the majestic Rocky and Elk mountains, Aspen is a brilliant place to visit. The Roaring Fork River awaits you in this unforgettable town in Colorado's Pitkin County. This guide gives you all of the information that you need for a successful visit to Aspen as well as provide you with information resources to determine if you may need a visa for Aspen.

Visa and ESTA Overview

If you are coming to Aspen Colorado from another country, you should check to see if you need either a visa for Aspen or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). You can check via the assessment on the homepage. The ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that was introduced through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which provides the ability to citizens of 41 participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism, business, transit, or medical purposes. Potential ESTA applicants also need to meet requirements such as having an electronic passport valid throughout the duration of their visit to and from Aspen as well as successfully be cleared by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to travel on the VWP. If you are eligible for ESTA when traveling to Aspen you must obtain approval prior to boarding your flight or sea vessel.

Visitors to Aspen needing a B2 Tourist Visa or B1 Business Visa will need to fill out a DS-160 form. The form takes approximately 60 minutes to complete and applicants should also have passport style photographs prepared for the application. Also, you will need to schedule an interview at you nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy. A $185 USD fee for the DS-160 application fee will need to be paid at the time of booking your embassy appointment.

ESTA and The Visa Waiver Program

What is the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA)?

The aim of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is to make it more straightforward for passport holders of specific countries to enter the United States of America without having to apply for a visa. At the moment, 41 countries are participating in the Visa Waiver Program. People who desire to visit the USA for less than 90 days might be eligible; whether the purpose of their visit is for tourism, to receive medical treatment, visiting family or friends or for business. Once issued, the ESTA visa waiver is valid for two years or up to the expiry date of an individual's passport. 

Visa Waiver Program Eligibility 

To be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, there are some additional criteria: 

  • If traveling for approved business purposes, you must intend to consult with business associates; plan to attend a business convention or an educational, professional, or scientific conference.
  • If you attend short-term training, you must not receive payment from any USA-based source, other than for expenses directly connected to your visit. Negotiating a contract is also valid.
  • Studying for credit, paid employment or working for the foreign media are not permitted on the VWP. Intending to live permanently in the USA is also prohibited. 

If you are planning to visit the USA for recognized and approved tourism purposes, you may be eligible for an ESTA. If your stay is for approved tourism purposes, such as a holiday, a social stay with family or friends or even to receive medical treatment, or to participate in a music, sporting or another cultural event, as long as you don't receive payment. 

Supplementary Requirements

It is essential that visitors all must have full authorization recognized by ESTA, an acronym which stands for 'Electronic System for Travel Authorization'. ESTA is an automated e-system that forms part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is a key part of the Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) methods of determining eligibility to journey without a visa to the USA either for tourism or business. It is only possible to enter the USA via ESTA if you travel on return land, sea or air round trip. It is also vital to not have any prior border refusals. If you have previously had a US visa application rejected. you may be refused an ESTA. It is also necessary to have an e-passport. 

The differences between Business Visas, Tourist Visas, and Visitor Visas 

If you have been refused an ESTA Visa Waiver or you need to reside in the States for over 90 days, you need to apply for either a B1 Business Visa, a B2 Tourist Visa or a B1-B2 Visitor Visa. The type of Visitor Visa for which you need depends on the nature of your planned stay. 

  • Category B1 - This category is for people planning a stay for business purposes, such as holding meetings or for legal purposes, such as settling an estate.
  • Category B2 - This category is suitable for those visiting the USA for straightforward tourism or leisure purposes. 

How to Apply for a Visa 

Applying for a visa entails a number of stages that must be completed. The exact stages may differ according to the country you are applying from. 

The first step is to complete the online form, known as Visa Application Form DS 160. When you reach the confirmation page, print it out as you will need to take it with you to an interview. The next stage is to make an appointment for a visa interview in your home country at the US embassy or consulate. Then you must await the call from the Visa Office. You then must simply wait to hear from the Visa officer. There could be quite a lengthy wait so it is important to do this well in advance of your planned visit.  Gather the mandatory documents: 

  • Valid Passport
  • Form DS-160 
  • Confirmation Page, 
  • Application 
  • Fee payment and receipt
  • Photo

You must provide all these documents and possibly more during the Embassy Interview. During the course of this interview, the attending Officer will decide if you are, in fact, eligible for a visa. Once your visa has been granted, you will have to pay the visa insurance fee.

Aspen Travel Information

The route that you take when getting to Aspen by car will depend on what time of year it is. Between May and September, Highway 82 is open and this will take you straight to Aspen - just exit Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs. In the winter time, Aspen is very snowy and much of Highway 82 will be closed, so you will need to take a more circuitous route to get to your destination. Snow tyres, plenty of supplies (including first aid supplies, food and hot drinks, a warm blanked and a strong torch), and a working mobile phone to call emergency services in bad weather, are all essential items to take with you when you drive towards Aspen in the winter. The closest major airport is Denver International Airport, and it is very easy to get onward ground transportation from the airport to the centre of Aspen. Taxis and public buses are both available if you do not want to drive yourself or hire a car. Denver International Airport is around 220 miles from downtown Aspen. Another option is to take an onward flight to Aspen. Aspen also has its own, smaller, national airport which hosts flights from major airlines such as Delta and United Airlines. This is Aspen/ Pitkin County Airport, which is three miles from Aspen and which can be reached via direct flights from numerous airports including Denver, Dallas, Chicago O'Hare, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St Paul and Atlanta.

This region is a particularly great place to visit for all lovers of the great outdoors. One of the most popular hiking destinations in Aspen is the Maroon Bells resort, named after the twin peaks known as Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak in the Elk Mountains. Two other fantastic locations to visit in and around the municipality if you adore skiing are Aspen Mountain and Independence Pass, where there are some fabulous ski resorts and plenty of opportunities for skiing. If you would like to enjoy a less strenuous activity in Aspen, it is highly recommended that you visit the John Denver Sanctuary which is an absolutely beautiful park and garden and a brilliant place to spend time. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Aspen Art Museum, too, which is home to some terrific contemporary art collections. And, if you are interested in seeing a working silver mine, head straight to the Smuggler Mine!


Now you know how to get to the town, and also what to see and do whilst you are there, you are all ready to enjoy your visit to this lovely place. So have a wonderful time but before you do, make sure to obtain an ESTA or visa for Aspen at least four weeks prior to your departure.