If you’re buying a home for sale in Aspen, you need to know that there’s more to do than enjoy picture-perfect skiing, indulge in fine dining or relax at a world-class spa (as if those three things weren’t enough). The fact is that Aspen is within a short drive from some of Colorado’s most spectacular hidden gems – and they’re all worth exploring when you find yourself with a little free time.
3 Ultra-Cool Day Trips From Aspen
Whether you’re ready to explore the untamed wilderness, you’re looking for a ghost town or you want to find a secret hideaway spot, we have you covered with:
- Mount Elbert
- Marble Mill Site Park
- Penny Hot Springs
Here’s a closer look at each.
Mount Elbert is the highest point in Colorado, and it’s breathtaking. At a towering 14,440 feet above sea level, Elbert’s summit is above all the others in the Rockies. In fact, it’s the second-highest peak in the continental U.S.
If you’re hiking, it’s a simple 4-mile trek – but you do need to be aware of potential altitude sickness, because from the trailhead, you climb 4,500 feet. You also need to look out for thunderstorms, which tend to roll in during the afternoons; it’s extremely dangerous to be above the treeline during a storm. During summer months, the trail can get pretty crowded if you don’t arrive early. You’ll cover a few “false summits” before you reach the real deal – but when you arrive, you’ll know.
What to know:
- Most of the trail is packed gravel and dirt
- There’s no water aside from the creek you cross near the beginning of your hike, so bring plenty
- The summit is cold, even when it’s hot at the trailhead
- Give yourself extra time because of the high altitude
- The trail starts with a handful of switchbacks, stays flat for about a half-mile, and then turns into a rigorous ascent
Warning: If you get a headache that becomes worse as you climb, turn around – you are at risk for cerebral edema, which can be fatal. There are no emergency services immediately available on the mountain.
Back in the 1970s, people had competing views about whether Mount Elbert or its sister peak, Mount Massive, was bigger. Mount Elbert is actually 12 feet higher than Mount Massive is, but not everyone felt Elbert deserved the distinction because of its straightforward, simple hike to the summit. As a 7.8-mile scramble gaining over 4,500 vertical feet, Mount Massive’s hike is a lot more difficult. This led people to climb Massive and pile rocks on a cairn at the summit to make it taller – but Elbert’s supporters would promptly climb the mountain and take them down.
Marble Mill Site Park
Located in Marble, Colorado, just 22 miles from the heart of Aspen, the Marble Mill Site Park is an abandoned husk of yesteryear. The formerly gleaming, white marble walls are covered in spruce and aspen, but they still stand out against the forested landscape. You’ll find historical markers around the little-used park, which was once the site of a thriving mill. In fact, the Marble Mill was once the largest marble mill in the world.
The Marble Mill produced some of the purest, most finely grained marble ever discovered. You can see its yield at the Lincoln Memorial, the Equitable Building in Manhattan, the Denver Post Office and even the Montana State Capitol building. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, crafted in 1932, was cut from the largest stone ever cut to date – a massive, 124-ton piece that came directly from the mountain. (The stone was cut down to 56 tons before it was shipped to Vermont, where it was carved and finished.)
Penny Hot Springs
Located in Carbondale, Penny Hot Springs is just a quick jaunt up the road from Aspen. Located below massive granite cliffs – the ones called “Hell’s Gates” – the springs were named for hotelier Dan Penny, who once set up a bathhouse. During the 1960s, when clothing became more optional, locals objected to the bathhouse and eventually shut it down. However, the county purchased the property in the 1990s and restored the pools, which you can now enjoy at your leisure (with clothing, of course).
The truly unique thing about Penny Hot Springs is how the extremely hot spring water mixes with water from the Crystal River, which is notoriously cold. The pools vary in temperature, depending on how much river water comes in, so be careful to check the temperature before you hop in.
What to know:
- There are no signs for Penny Hot Springs. If you’re coming from the north, look for the extra-wide shoulder on the east side of CO-133 near mile marker 55. (If you pass the mile marker, turn around – you went too far.)
- Park on the highway’s shoulder and walk down the steep hill toward the river. You’ll find the springs in a ditch at the bottom of the hill.
- Snowmelt makes the pools too cold to enjoy during the springtime, but they’re perfect during the other three seasons.
Related: Search Carbondale homes for sale now
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