Most winters, I take a break to soak in the natural pools at Glenwood Springs, just a few hours west of my mountain home. Last week, I spent some time at the hot springs and drove to Aspen for a day. I hadn’t been there in decades, when I attended the Aspen Music Festival with a friend. I can still recall a chamber music concert outdoors on the side of a mountain, and a rehearsal of the Aspen Festival Symphony with a famous conductor.
Like many Rocky Mountain towns, Aspen boomed quickly in the gold and silver mining days of the late 1800s. Some of its older buildings reflect the Victorian architecture, and the taller boxy red brick structures of hotels and government buildings of the time. In more modern times, it has become one of the best known, and one of the most expensive, ski towns in Colorado and the west, attracting celebrities and the wealthy. Although the shops and restaurants are pricey, Aspen has been able to keep its small-town feel, unlike the ski town of Vail, where high-rise buildings incongruously emulate the look of the European Alps.
This was the height of ski season, but there weren’t many people on the streets. My guess is that they were on the slopes of Snowmass ski area nearby. So, it was a good day to wander around town. Ski runs form a backdrop to the town.
Two uniformed bellhops at the door to the historic Hotel Jerome welcomed me inside.
The library’s bike-driven mini-library usually appears at festivals and events. Adults and younger children are not permitted to lounge at the inviting Teen Corner.
Behind the downtown streets were low brick buildings and newer structures filled with high-end boutiques of ski clothing and chic fashions, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.
At Wagner Park, murals recall Aspen’s earlier years.
During World War II, the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained on skis in the Colorado mountains in preparation for combat in the high country of northern Europe. The ski industry had its early beginnings and rapid growth soon after.
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