5 Best Hidden Gems in Aspen

5 Best Hidden Gems in Aspen

  • Lorrie Winnerman
  • 06/29/20

Aspen, CO Is Well-known for Its Gorgeous Scenery, Luxury Estates, and Reputation as a Winter Sports Enthusiast’s Paradise. The City Has Much More to Offer Just Off the Beaten Path. Take a Look at the List Below for Hidden Gems That Are Not to Be Missed in Aspen!

​​​​​​​Ashcroft Townsite

Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura

​​​​​​​For residents and visitors looking for a historical and even spooky attraction, the Ashcroft Townsite is a truly unique Aspen experience. Also known as the Ashcroft Ghost Town, the discovery of silver in 1880 brought prospectors to the Castle Creek Valley, which led to the establishment of the town of Ashcroft. 

City streets and a courthouse were constructed in just two weeks as those in search of silver flocked to the newly-established town. Before its swift abandonment, the town expanded to multiple hotels, saloons, and 3,500 residents. By the end of 1885, the town rapidly declined. In 1975, the abandoned town was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Today, the site is a well-preserved ghost town accessible by an 11-mile drive south on Castle Creek Road. Head to the site for an attraction that can only be experienced in Aspen!

The Grottos Ice Cave

Image courtesy of 303Magazine

​​​​​​​Going west on Independence Pass, a local-known secret can be found near the entry to Grottos Trail. Visitors must cross the Roaring Fork River and hike for about 30 to 40 steps to reach a wooden sign that reads, “ice cave.” 

As if following a map to buried treasure, make your way down makeshift stone stairs to an opening to a cave known as the Grottos Ice Cave. Explore the visually striking cave with remarkably smooth, wave-like walls. The long cavern is where small pools of water freeze, creating an ice cave. 

Hear your voice echo against the naturally sculpted walls and enjoy a lesser-known natural wonder in Aspen.

John Denver Sanctuary

A permanent tribute to the legendary singer and songwriter, the John Denver Sanctuary is a stunning man-made wetland sanctuary—a must-see for Aspen visitors. Located beside the Roaring Fork River, the sanctuary includes the largest public perennial flower gardens in the country, which integrate quotes by the late John Denver onto stone throughout the gardens.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the peaceful sights and sounds of nature. While there is no public parking near the sanctuary, a parking garage is conveniently located nearby.

Devil’s Punchbowl

Image of the ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ courtesy of 303Magazine

​​​​​​​For thrill-seekers, ‘Devil’s Punchbowl’ is a cliff diver’s oasis! Located along Independence Pass and in-between the Grottos Trail and Weller Lake Trailhead, Devil’s Punchbowl offers visitors smooth cliffs that are perfect for jumping off into a plunging pool of water below. Per its name, the pool resembles a punchbowl and includes various jump points to choose from. Even on a hot day, the mountain water running into the pools can be freezing cold.

​​​​​​​If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, bring a picnic and enjoy the sunshine while people-watching or admiring nature.

Wheeler Opera House

Image courtesy of Wheeler Opera House​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​One of the many remnants of the late 1800s boomtown, the Wheeler Opera House is an architecturally-impressive stone building with a significant role in Aspen’s history. Built in the 1890s by Jerome B. Wheeler, one of Aspen’s early developers, the opera house was the first of its kind to have electricity west of the Continental Divide. 

Today, visitors can see a local band play in the auditorium or catch a showing of a classic movie. Whether taking a break from Aspen’s countless outdoor activities or learning more about the town’s historic roots, the opera house is the perfect stop for architecture, music, and history lovers, alike. 

Interested in learning more about Aspen’s hidden gems from a local’s perspective? Contact Lorrie Winnerman today. Her experience as a luxury Realtor® and longtime Aspen resident will ease the process of finding the perfect piece of Aspen real estate to meet the needs of any homebuyer!

*Header Image courtesy of Forbes (Daniel Bayer)

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