If you’re a history buff, there are five must-see places in Aspen. This guide explains each of the most noteworthy five historic attractions in Aspen and gives you directions so you can plan your own trip.
5 Historic Attractions in Aspen
Whether you’re ready to make a weekend of exploring Aspen’s rich history or you want to spread out your visits to its most historic attractions, this list will get you started:
- T-Lazy-7 Ranch
- Ashcroft Ghost Town
- Wheeler Opera House
- Independence Ghost Town
- Ute Cemetery
Here’s a closer look at each.
Aspen Historic Attraction #1: T-Lazy-7 Ranch
3129 Maroon Creek Road
The T-Lazy-7 Ranch, nestled in the Maroon Creek Valley (home to the Maroon Bells) has connections to one of Aspen’s Founding Fathers, Josiah Deane. As an original settler, Deane traveled in a party of nine on foot from Leadville over Independence Pass in 1880. Later, his grandson purchased T-Lazy-7 Ranch and turned it into a special getaway for anyone who wanted to enjoy the rugged landscape. You can learn more about its history here – and during your visit, you can take a snowmobile tour, go horseback riding or fly fishing, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
Related: Aspen’s favorite landmarks
Aspen Historic Attraction #2: Ashcroft Ghost Town
Ashcroft Ghost Town
Castle Creek Road (directions here)
Once a thriving community with 20 of its own rowdy saloons, a school and a bevy of houses, Ashcroft Ghost Town still houses the remains of a number of historic buildings. Though the town didn’t last long in the grand scheme of things, it’s been used by a number of people through the years for various purposes; the U.S. Army even leased it for $1 a year during World War II, when the 10th Mountain Division trained there. Today, you can stroll the area and read interpretive signs, and during the warmer months, docents from the Aspen Historical Society are there to answer questions about this old boom town.
Aspen Historic Attraction #3: Wheeler Opera House
Wheeler Opera House
320 East Hyman Avenue
The Wheeler Opera House, built in 1889, once contained a bank and a public hall adorned with rich appointments. Known for its posh opulence and truly magnificent architecture for the period, the building featured a steam heating system and a 36-light central chandelier. It was the third-largest opera house in Colorado at the time, and remained so until arson closed it down in 1912. But since World War II, several renovations and remodeling efforts have taken place, restoring the Wheeler Opera House to its original state.
Related: 3 amazing day trips from Aspen
Aspen Historic Attraction #4: Independence Ghost Town
Independence Ghost Town
Highway 82 (directions here)
Independence Ghost Town was the first mining site in the Roaring Fork Valley, but today it’s an archaeological preserve with interpretive signs that tell its story. Though gold was likely discovered in 1879, it wasn’t until 1881 until the Farwell Mining Company set up shop in the area. They built the Farwell Stamp Mill and a bustling sawmill, and the area’s population swelled to more than 500 people. With four grocery stores, four boarding houses and three saloons, the town was off to the start of its short life. By 1882 the population had tripled, but by 1888, only a hundred people remained because the mines had stopped delivering.
Related: 3 great coffee shops to try in Aspen
Aspen Historic Attraction #5: Ute Cemetery
Highway 82 (directions here)
Known as Evergreen Cemetery in the 1800s, this small cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features around 200 identified gravesites, though experts suspect there are more. Though it fell into disrepair during Aspen’s “quiet period,” when many of the mines went belly-up, it’s been under renovation for the past several years and contains many Civil War veterans’ graves.
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