Updated: 4/21/2017

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1. Ashcroft Ghost Town

Back in the late 1800s Ashcroft had a population larger than Aspen, as well as two newspapers, a school, sawmills and 20 saloons. But as quickly as the town boomed, Ashcroft also went bust. Located 11 miles south of Aspen on Castle Creek Road, guests can visit Ashcroft Ghost Town year-round, with tours offered by the Aspen Historical Society in the summer. Ashcroft is an ideal location for wildflower season (late July–August), as it is filled with a plethora of vivid colors, a Colorado summer show not to be missed. Discover more summertime activities in Aspen >>

Ashcroft is also stunning in the fall with brilliant foliage, and a winter wonderland from November through spring. Opt for a sleigh ride or get a workout by cross-country skiing in the area during winter, capping off with a rewarding meal at Pine Creek Cookhouse.

Brilliant fall foliage around Ashcroft Ghost Town
Brilliant fall foliage around Ashcroft Ghost Town
Tranquility at the John Denver Sanctuary
Tranquility at the John Denver Sanctuary
Views of the Continental Divide
Views of the Continental Divide
Cooling off in the waters of the Roaring Fork River
Cooling off in the waters of the Roaring Fork River
The historic Wheeler Opera House in downtown Aspen
The historic Wheeler Opera House in downtown Aspen

2. John Denver Sanctuary

Located along the Roaring Fork River next to Rio Grande Park, the John Denver Sanctuary features the largest perennial flower garden around, as well as large stone sculptures featuring lyrics of the former Aspen resident’s most beloved songs.

3. Continental Divide and Independence Pass

Head east from Aspen along Hwy 82 towards Independence Pass to take in the stunning scenery and incredible views. This is hands down the best area to enjoy foliage in autumn, with groves upon groves of aspen trees. Independence Pass starts at 9,200 feet and climbs to 12,095 feet at the summit, which is ringed with peaks of 13,000 feet — including Mt. Champion, Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, Grizzly Peak and Casco Peak. There are plenty of Instagram-worthy pull-offs, nearby hikes and even an old ghost town to visit along the way. Read about the numerous scenic routes you can take to Aspen >>

4. Top of Aspen Mountain

Ride the Silver Queen Gondola up to the top of Aspen Mountain and soak in the beauty of Ajax at 11,212 feet. The gondola is open to guests all summer, winter, select fall weekends and spring until closing day in April. Skiers and boarders can enjoy access to over 75 trails in the winter, and non-skiers can enjoy lunch, yoga and additional happenings at the Sundeck Restaurant.

5. Wheeler Opera House

Catch a show or just tour the Wheeler Opera House, Aspen’s community performance venue since 1889. The Wheeler was originally part of the Silver Circuit, a mining-era collection of venues that brought internationally renowned performers to the silver- and gold-mining camps and towns of Colorado's high country. Destroyed by fire in the early part of the 20th century, the Wheeler underwent one renovation in the late 1940s and a more recent overhaul in the 1980s. Today, it's Aspen's premier performing venue, with artists and comedians coming through such as The Eagles, Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Smith and more.

Originally published on aspenchamber.com

Find more ways to explore Aspen, from arts and culture to recreation >>