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.

Aspen Times window
Wheeler Opera House
A restoration in progress?
Paepcke Park

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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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

35 thoughts on “Aspen

    1. The downtown still has its quaint character, but further out are larger homes. I believe there are some zoning restrictions, but you can see the money is there! Like most mountain towns, they are struggling with a lack of affordable housing for workers, and have a glut of short-term lodging that cuts down on long-term rentals.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve only heard of Aspen due to its ski tourism; although I’m by no means a skier, Aspen still looks to be a charming town with other activities to do besides skiing. Plus, holing up in those rooms looks so warm and cozy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the lovely tour of Aspen. Lots of attractive buildings and some interesting features like the guy on the bench 🙂 I loved your icicle shot too, but I wouldn’t fancy the job of cleaning windows in that cold weather!

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  3. Wow, what a truly wonderful place to visit – can this be one of the most charming, visually stunning small towns in America? I love the towns architecture as well as those beautiful mountains surrounding it. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  4. I’ve only been to Aspen in the summer, most recently last summer a few days after our spontaneous meeting. I noticed your picture of Ute Mountaineer. Definitely went in there. I do like Aspen. Too bad I’ll never be able to afford to live there…

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  5. We visited Aspen in the summer several years ago (on a stay in Glenwood Springs) and were pleasantly surprised to discover the John Denver Sanctuary. It’s a beautiful walking garden, with the lyrics of his songs placed on stones throughout. Just one of many reasons to visit this beautiful town.

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  6. Aspen looks like a lovely place, and for me the small town vibe just adds to its charm. I love the photos of the icicles and half a dozen kids packed into a wheel cart, but feel a bit sorry for the window cleaner. The houses you photographed are gorgeous.

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