Everything You Wanted to Know About Living in Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is so glamorous, it has been referred to as Beverly Hills in the mountains. The designer shopping and fine dining are world-class. The skiing is without rival—the town makes every list of top resorts in North America, if not the world. Named for the trees with quaking leaves and white bark, Aspen’s location in the Roaring Fork Valley is easily one of the most beautiful on the planet.
What is the History of Aspen?
Underscoring this A-List reputation, Aspen still retains its Old West charm. The quaint outdoor ice rink in the center of town is straight out of a fairy tale. The historic Victorian architecture and limestone buildings lend 19th-century authenticity from back when the town was the nation’s silver mining capital. The silver boom went bust in 1893 with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which had briefly switched the country’s monetary standard from gold to silver. Aspen was transformed into a ghost town almost overnight. Dairy cattle operations sustained Aspen through the Depression until the counter-culture of writers, artists, intelligentsia, and skiers came here to drop out of sight. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson famously ran for Sheriff in 1970. Aspen’s world-class skiing couldn’t remain secret for long, however. The global ski chic now arrive in droves with private jet gridlock often gripping the local airport.
What to Do and See in Aspen?
On the cultural front, this small town is big. Summer in the Rockies includes the Aspen Music Festival + School, founded in 1949 and regarded as one of the top classical music festivals in the U.S., both for its concert programming and musical training of young-adults. The Jazz Aspen Snowmass has featured headliners such as Harry Connick, Jr., Lyle Lovett, Natalie Cole, and Leslie Odom, Jr. The Aspen Institute has catapulted to the top of world think tank conferences, attracting thought leaders and luminaries, such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Jordan’s Queen Noor, to speak or serve on panels. The Food & Wine Classic is an epicure’s delight, attracting foodies from around the globe. Add to this the Wheeler Opera House, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, The Aspen Art Museum, and the Aspen Writer’s Foundation for a Double Black Diamond serving of fine culture.
Aspen Mountain, better known as Ajax by locals, majestically soars over the town like a grand and benevolent ancestor. Expert black runs dominate this ski mecca with a few blues thrown in for the intermediate skier. Similarly challenging terrain can be found at Aspen Highlands, where the most ambitious skiers hike to the ridge of Highland Bowl for a descent they won’t soon forget. For beginners, tamer runs can be found in the neighboring towns of Snowmass Village, a few miles down the road. Once its 176 inches of annual snowfall melts, Aspen certainly doesn’t grind to a halt. The outdoor enthusiast can venture over to Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs to raft the Roaring Fork River, mountain bike in Hunter Creek Valley or any of the surrounding ski resorts, hike Independence Pass, or horseback ride through the carpet of wildflowers in Maroon Bells. The surrounding national forests and designated wilderness also support world-class fly-fishing, kayaking, bike touring, and technical climbing.
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