The traffic isn't to Aspen in particular. It's just Denverites getting out of the city for the weekend. The Friday evening rush hour out to the suburbs and up to the mountains is typical for any late Friday afternoon traffic. In summer it's not as clearly defined by the ski hours such as early morning or after the lifts close- it would be more spread out. And at any rate, once you're past the first resort or two it thins out dramatically. Aspen/Snowmass is around 3 1/2 hours from Denver in the summer, and it's certainly not traffic the entire way.
The factor that many times makes the traffic worse in winter-in addition to the ski traffic- is weather and snowy/icy patches on the roads even in clear weather, particularly the passes and tunnel approaches. The traffic just can't (and shouldn't!) move as quickly. And big trucks often have to put chains on...there are chain-up areas they are supposed to use, but I have seen a line of them stopped in the right lane of the interstate so there's only one lane of traffic moving. Those factors aren't a problem in the summer so traffic usually moves right along.
IMO, it's best to avoid rush hour traffic in Denver when possible. We try to time our travel so as not to be on the interstates between 7:30 and 9 am and 4 to 6 pm on weekdays. If we happen to hit those times, we think it's a good time to stop for breakfast or dinner or a little shopping. And we avoid travel TO Denver on I70 on Sunday evenings.
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