If you’re buying a home for sale in Aspen, you probably already know that this is a spectacular community – and that there’s plenty to see and do all year here. But what you may not know is that there are a number of breathtaking landmarks you should visit after you move in. Some local favorites are listed in this guide to must-see landmarks in and around Aspen.
3 Must-See Landmarks in and Around Aspen
Check out these three must-see landmarks in and around Aspen:
- Independence Pass
- The John Denver Sanctuary
- Ashcroft Ghost Town
Here’s a closer look at each – and how to find them.
Must-See Aspen Landmark #1: Independence Pass
Independence Pass on Highway 82 got its earliest start as a summer hunting ground back in prehistoric times – long before it was roamed by Ute Native Americans, who inhabited the Roaring Fork Valley. The valley itself was first surveyed in 1873 by the Hayden Geological Survey, and by 1879, the first mining prospectors had arrived (though the pass was called Hunter Pass at that time).
Silver mining quickly became a big deal in Aspen, so the first real road over the pass was built in 1880 by B. Clark Wheeler – a very prominent Aspen businessman. The structures built along the pass have mostly crumbled, though you can still find them in the wooded areas off the road if you look, and you can even still see remnants of the first road built by Wheeler if you look up toward the peaks of the mountains.
Must-See Aspen Landmark #2: The John Denver Sanctuary
The John Denver Sanctuary, built in the memory of the famed singer who loved his “Rocky Mountain High,” is located right next to Rio Grande Park downtown. The sanctuary is a local favorite because of its natural beauty – and even better, it’s home to environmentally sound wetlands. Whether you want to have a family picnic or spend some quiet time meditating, this sanctuary is the place to do it.
Theater Aspen is located within the John Denver Sanctuary, as well, and so is the Boulder and Perennial Garden, where you’ll find huge boulders engraved with John Denver’s song lyrics.
Must-See Aspen Landmark #3: Ashcroft Ghost Town
Ashcroft Ghost Town isn’t likely to have any real ghosts, but it is home to the beautifully restored remains of a silver mining town that existed in the early 1880s. Located just 11 miles up Castle Creek Road from Aspen, the remains of several historic buildings – including a saloon, post office and the Bird House Hotel (formerly known as the Hotel View) – dot the beautiful landscape. You can take a guided tour or walk the grounds yourself to explore interpretive signs, take photos and learn more about the area’s rich history.
By 1883, Ashcroft was much larger than Aspen – it had a population of 2,000 and two newspapers, a school, a smelter, a handful of sawmills and 20 saloons. However, nearly as quickly as its population grew, it collapsed. By 1885, the mines that supported the town turned out to be shallow deposits, and major finds in Aspen’s mines made Ashcroft a town of the past.
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