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Aspen CO - Overview
Not long ago, a “ski vacation” in the
Rockies meant downhill skiing and nothing else. A vast array of exciting
activities now share the spirit of winter fun at Aspen: dog sledding,
snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ballooning, paragliding, ice climbing, and
even fishing. Snowboarding continues to grow in popularity, especially on the 42
trails at nearby Buttermilk Mountain, two miles west of Aspen.
Aspen is a culturally rich, freewheeling,
tolerant town that welcomes diversity of personal expression. Local annual
events include Winterskol, Aspen’s Winter Carnival, the Aspen Music
festival, with concerts and recitals by world-class artists, also the
International Design Conference and a Food and Wine Festival. Wheeler Opera
House, carefully restored in every detail to its 1889 grandeur, is the site of
operas, dramas, concerts and films throughout the year.
Aspen’s location on the eastern part of White River National
Forest in the midst of the beautiful Elk Mountains, in the Rocky Mountain
Range, makes it the perfect choice for year-round outdoor activities.
Originally known as Ute City, Aspen’s
original claim to fame was a 1, 840 pound silver nugget taken from the Smuggler
Mine and displayed at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. Within 15 years,
the silver market crashed, and the city was gone.
Its rebirth came in the 1930s as the result
of other natural resources: the incredibly beautiful scenery and the perfect
contours of the slopes for the new sport of skiing. Swiss mountaineer and ski
consultant Andre Roche determined that Aspen Mountain would make a prime ski
area, and by1941 it was the site of the U.S. Nationals.
Snowmass Village (originally called
Snowmass- at -Aspen), 10 miles northwest of Aspen, was built in 1967. Snowmass
began as just a series of condos, but in recent years, Snowmass Village has
become a different place. Excellent restaurants and a livelier after-hours scene
have brought skiers into the village, where they remain long after the lifts
close. This “suburb” of Aspen contains 3000 acres of ski terrain and the same
rugged, spectacularly beautiful scenery that predominates throughout the Aspen
Snowmass Village is often the preferred
alternative for families with young children, while the town of Aspen seems to
attract a more sophisticated, partying crowd. Snowmass Village has an abundance
of on-slope, ski-in/ski-out lodging, a slow pace, and as much peace and quiet as
Summer in the Aspen area is as
breathtakingly beautiful as winter. There is a short Spring shut-down while
snow is melting and summer is moving in, but by mid-June, lifts are running and
a whole new schedule of family oriented activities begins.
Summer visitors have a wide range of choices
such as golf, hiking, biking, and summer ski lift rides. A summer ride up the
lifts gives a panoramic view of the town and the valley. The weather is
pleasant and mild, and the ride back down on the lift (or on the bicycle you
took to the top with you), is indescribable.
Be sure to stay long enough in the summer to
enjoy Theater in the Park, the Aspen Dance Festival and one or more of the
summer Janus Jazz Aspen at Snowmass concerts. Top name performers appear
through Labor Day. Once the Labor Day Festival is over, there are the Fall and
Winter Festivals. Perhaps you will decide to stay on just a little longer, and
then another week, and before you know it you will have become an Aspen
Once you visit Aspen, and experience its
beauty and warmth; its cultural richness and ability to restore and rejuvenate,
you may find yourself searching for a way to stay permanently, and surely for an
opportunity to return as soon as possible for another visit.