The city of Aspen, Colorado, was originally a mining camp during the Colorado silver boom of the 1880’s, and was named after the abundance of aspen trees in the area. At 8,000 feet it gets its’ fair share of snow in the winter. Unfortunately, the silver market collapsed in 1893 and the city gradually lost its population over the next 50 years. However, in the 1950’s a ski resort was developed at Aspen Mountain while a local businessman, Walter Paepcke bought properties in the city and redeveloped them.
Today, Aspen has a population of around 7,000 and is flourishing. Singer John Denver lived there and wrote two songs about the city – Starwood in Aspen and Aspenglow – and towards the end of the 20th century other musicians and movie stars moved in along with millionaire businessmen. Jack Nicholson lives in Aspen. Indeed, Aspen now has the most expensive real estate in the country, to the extent that many ordinary middleclass people cannot afford it.
What’s The Skiing Like In Aspen?
In a word, it’s fantastic. There are four ski resorts all within about 20 minutes’ drive of each other. The area is known as Aspen Snowmass and contains Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk Mountain. Although all four resorts are included on the same lift ticket, they are only otherwise connected by a free shuttle service from the city centre.
In total, the ski area covers over 5,300 acres, has 329 marked trails, and 43 lifts. There are also 5 terrain parks and plenty of halfpipes where you can canvass. With that number of trails there is something for every ski enthusiast, from beginner to expert, and there are plenty of white knuckle runs that will test the most advanced and expert skiers.
As is the case with other ski resorts in Colorado, the quality of the powder is excellent. There is an average of 300 inches of snowfall each season, so skiing is available on most days. Although Aspen is a popular resort there are still plenty of hidden powder trails to be found: best to hire a local guide. You can also go snow shoeing and cross country skiing.
Apart From Skiing, What Else Is There To Do In Aspen?
Aspen has a lot on offer, even to strange folk who don’t like skiing!
With all those aspen trees around you can go hiking through the forests.
There are bike trails aplenty, or you could explore the local landscape on horseback. If you don’t feel like getting too much exercise you can go on a Jeep tour. There is also hunting and shooting available, if you like hunting or shooting check out Goog gun best airsoft. You would want to also buy the best reloading press for enahanced reloading speed.
For the golfer, there are several courses including the Aspen Golf Club which was ranked as Best Municipal Golf Course in Colorado by Golfweek Magazine for three years running. There is the Snowmass Club and the Roaring Fork Club which is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Oh, and there’s another bonus: your golf ball will travel further when you are playing at this height.
Are There Any Other Outdoor Things To Do?
Certainly! There is some great fly-fishing for trout on the Roaring Fork River and Frying Pan River at just about any time of year. You can actually fish for trout on Mill Street in Aspen, but the majority of people go ten minutes from downtown to the Roaring Fork River. Both rivers have been designated Gold Medal waters by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as great places to catch trout. There are about 9,000 miles of trout streams in the state, but only 168 miles are designated Gold Medal. They are mostly Rainbow, Speckled, Brown, and Cutthroat trout and they WILL be biting when you hit the water!
If you fancy rock climbing, take a trip up Independence Pass just 15 minutes from the town centre. There is every type of rock climbing here from bouldering for the beginner to rocks for the experts. During the winter you can try ice climbing, and there is also an indoor climbing tower at the Aspen Recreation Centre.
What about canoeing and whitewater rafting? Aspen offers both. You can canoe or stand-up paddle board at the North Star Nature Reserve. If you want some really fast action then try whitewater rafting on the Colorado River or Roaring Fork River, or you can take a day trip to the Arkansas River.
Then there’s tennis at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club and the Aspen Recreation Centre. The Gant Hotel also has five tennis courts. If you prefer ice skating there is the Aspen Ice Garden, the Lewis Ice Arena, and the Silver Circle rink which is only open in the winter.
What’s the Nightlife Like?
We thought you’d never ask! There are over 100 restaurants in the city and plenty of bars and clubs. You can enjoy French, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and New World cuisine. The Ajax Tavern provides crab, shrimp, and fresh oysters.
Aspen has its own brewery, and Eric’s Bar in East Hyman Street offers 14 different beers and more than 50 single malt whiskies. On South Mill Street, Jimmy’s has live blues and swing every Friday night and serves over 80 different tequilas. There is also the Caribou Club which is a private members exclusive club but which will let you sign up for membership for a week.
What About Accommodation?
There is pretty much everything you could wish for in Aspen, from hotels, motels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, condominiums, to plenty of private rentals. Many of the hotels are three star, but the Sky Hotel and the Gant Hotel are four star, while the St. Regis Aspen Resort is a top end hotel and has five stars.
There is a village at the base of Snowmass Mountain which is mostly hotels and condominiums. You can also stay in the village at the base of Aspen Mountain, but not much goes on there other than skiing and snowboarding.
Although many people go to Aspen solely for the skiing, there is a surprisingly large number of other things to do and see in a city of only 7,000 people. It seems to have a little of just about everything. It is not the cheapest place in the world, so perhaps not the best choice if you are on a tight budget, but you will most certainly have a holiday to remember.