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Aspen Facts & Information

Aspen is located in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 7,815 feet and encompasses 1.99 square miles. It is the 50th largest city in Colorado and is approximately 200 miles southwest of Denver.  Aspen is located at the southern end of the lush Roaring Fork Valley, along with the neighboring cities of Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale & Glenwood Springs.

HISTORY

Although tourism is the number one industry, Aspen is a thriving community where 6,400 year-round residents take great pride in maintaining the small-town charm of the past and urbane culture of the present. Aspen has always been home to colorful characters, from the flush days of silver mining to the lean quiet years, and from the romance of ranching to the rise of skiing and the arts, Aspen has been defined by its people. It is a community with rich roots, a place where Western heritage and modern mores join together to form a year-round destination resort. Aspen is, and always has been, about style, passion, and balance.

BOOM & BUST

In the late 1800s, Aspen was alive with all the fortune and fancy of a silver mining town. Thousands of fortune seekers rushed to the newly inhabited mountain town for their chance to strike it rich. Many succeeded. By the early 1890s, the town had four schools, three banks, 10 churches, a hospital, six newspapers, an opera house...and several brothels.

Times were good -- too good, in fact, to be true. Just years later, Aspen was devastated by the demonetization of silver. At one point, in the 1920s the town's population dwindled to a meager 750. Aspen believe it or not, was a virtual ghost town. And while most Western mining towns were temporary in nature, Aspen was--and remains--unique in its character. As the mines closed and even diehard locals were forced to close up shop, the town grew stronger. Its residents turned to ranching and farming to see them through the tough times, never abandoning the land they called home. These were the quiet years--a period of tranquility between the booms of silver and skiing.

In the late 1930s, skiing and the arts began to take hold of the Aspen scene, paving the way for decades to come. It all began when Andre Roch, the famous Swiss avalanche expert, was hired to survey the area surrounding Aspen for development as a world-class ski resort. Meanwhile, a group of ingenious locals built the original "boat tow" ski lift on Aspen Mountain and cleared one ski run, naming it after Roach himself. The dream continued when Aspen went on to hold the 1941 U.S. National ski races. And just six years later, when Lift One carried its first passengers up Ajax, it was clear that Aspen would be a place where people from around the world would flock to schuss through powder and sip hot toddies.

Of course the rebirth of Aspen didn't stop there. Two years later, when Walter Paepcke planned the Goethe Bicentennial Convocation, the town was filled with intellect, music, literature, art, and theater. In the 1960s, skiing was expanded to include Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass mountains, and the town's population was expanded to include high-rollers and hippies. In the 1970s and 1980s, growth was the issue - both how to control it (note gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's campaign for sheriff on a platform of no-growth and legalized drugs) and how to keep it going. And in the 1990s, the town really took shape with retailers such as Polo, Gucci, and Prada, and nightclubs like the Caribou, Club Chelsea, and Eric's, it was clear that Aspen was more than just a ski town -- it was a year-round destination resort.

Today, Aspen is a bizarre tribute to the colorful cast of characters that create the town's unique tapestry. Whether it's the arts, culture, and winding trails for hiking and biking of the warm months or the unparalleled skiing and outdoor activities of winter, people flock to Aspen throughout the year for a vacation unlike any other.

ASPEN WEATHER

 
  • Aspen is located at 7,908 feet above sea level giving us a high alpine climate with low humidity & year-round sunshine. We receive almost 300 days of sunshine a year!
  • Always dress in layers when you are in Colorado. The weather can change rapidly and you want to be prepared.  
  • Remember sunscreen and sunglasses - you are closer to the sun (even on a cloudy day) at 7,908 feet above sea level!
  • Summer in Aspen begins in June and ends Labor Day weekend when fall begins. Summer showers or thunderstorms often occur in the afternoons, but they do not last long and the rainbows are not to be believed! Temperatures during the day will reach into the 80's, but evenings are cooler so be sure to bring a sweater with you when walking around town at night.
  • Fall in Aspen is very dry and daytime temperatures in September can reach into the 70's, but bundle up at night because in fall the mercury drops to freezing overnight. Peak foliage varies by year, but you are typically safe to see the golden aspens between the 3rd & 4th week of September. Late fall, from Mid-October - late November can boast crystal clear autumnal days, followed by snowfall to prepare us for our winter season. Always dress in layers and be flexible with your plans.
  • Winter in Aspen typically begins in November and lasts through April, with January having the lowest temperatures of the year. Our average annual snowfall is 300 inches and temperatures can range from 0-50 degrees Fahrenheit. The crystal clear blue sky days can often be colder than our cloudy snowy days because the clouds trap in the air circulation.
  • Spring or Secret Season in Aspen runs mid-April - Early June. Weather during these months is very fickle. It might snow 2 feet overnight and then reach the 60's the very next day. Be prepared for all types of weather and always bring a camera. Your friends will never believe you if you tell them it is snowing on Memorial Day.

TRANSPORTATION

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport:

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) is located only three miles from downtown Aspen, and is the most convenient airport in the Rocky Mountain region! Flying to Aspen has never been easier and is, by far, the quickest way to start your vacation. 

Eagle County Regional Airport:

Located 70 miles from Aspen. Air Canada, American, Delta and United Express fly nonstop from 11 U.S. cities into Eagle. 970.328.2680.

Other Airports: 

Several carriers will pick Aspen guests up at the Denver International Airport, Grand Junction Airport or Eagle/Vail Airport and transport them to Aspen for a fee. Guest will share a van, and equipment is safely stored on the roof or rear racks.

Driving Directions

All times below are approximations. The vehicle trip between Denver International Airport and Aspen crosses two of Colorado's high mountain passes, the highest elevation on the trip is 11,158’ (3,401 m) above sea level. This trip involves mountain weather conditions that can be unpredictable and severe. During all times of the year expect possible icy conditions, slow travel and possible road closures due to accidents and weather conditions.

Please note, Independence Pass (Highway 82, east of Aspen) is CLOSED seasonally, usually early November through late May. Many GPS devices might not be aware of this fact. Please check the roadway's status prior to committing to the route.

Contact Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the latest road conditions.

Go to http://www.cotrip.org or call for recorded statewide travel conditions 303-639-1111 or dial 511 inside Colorado.

From Denver International Airport

Estimated Time: 3 hours, 38 minutes

  • Take I-70 West for 168 miles
  • Take Exit 116 to CO -82
  • Take CO-82 South for 37.5 miles

From Eagle County Regional Airport

Estimated Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

  • Take I-70 West for 23 miles
  • Take Exit 116 to CO-82
  • Take CO-82 South for 37.5 miles

From Grand Junction Airport

Estimated Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

  • Take I-70 East for 84 miles
  • Take Exit 116 to CO-82
  • Take CO-82 South for 37.5 miles

Colorado Mountain Express

Every year over 420,000 travelers choose Colorado Mountain Express (CME) over rental cars for their airport ground transportation to Vail and Beaver Creek from Denver International Airport (DIA) and Eagle County Regional Airport. An unsurpassed safety record, flexible schedules, impeccably maintained vehicles and courteous, friendly drivers let you sit back, relax and take in our breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery.

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