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Camping: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Independence Historic Townsite

Elevation: 11,000 Feet (3428.9 Meters)

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The ghost town of Independence
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
The ghost town of Independence
Independence is generally considered to have been the first mining camp in the Aspen area and the start of the Aspen mining boom. The town took its name from the gold lode struck nearby, called the Independence for its discovery on July 4, 1879. The identity of the actual discoverer is somewhat clouded. Some say that it was Billy Belden who was leading a group of prospectors to the area, others claim that it was Charles Bennett, while still other sources point to the peripatetic Dick Irwin.

Immediately following the discovery, a tent city sprung up, followed by a few cabins. The first cabin in the camp is thought to have been erected by J. B. Connor. By 1880 300 people were living in the camp. By 1881, the population had grown to 500 and a business directory listed eleven firms (four grocery stores, four boarding houses and three saloons). The camp reached its peak activity in 1882 with over 40 business establishments listed in the local directory. The population probably reached a peak somewhere between 1000 and 2000. It is said that the camp was on the wild side with many saloons, gambling halls and brothels. It was located along the stage route between the booming mining towns of Leadville and Aspen.

Directions from Aspen: Drive east on Highway 82 about 16 miles toward Independence Pass. The Independence townsite is about two miles past Lost Man Campground.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Ranger TipWalk through the historic ghost town of Independence. The town is just below Independence Pass.

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Viewing Historic Sites Learn about life in a gold mining town from ghosts, summer interns from the Aspen Historical Society, who live in a cabin on the grounds.
ICON Viewing Interpretive Signs Independence Historic Townsite
ICON Attending Talks & Programs Ghosts (interns from the Aspen Historical Society) spend the summers at Independence Ghost Town interpreting the site for visitors.

Related Activities
Independence Pass Area - The Independence Pass Area is located east of Aspen and offers a high concentration of attractions in a scenic alpine setting. The pass is closed in winter to vehicular traffic with the exception of snowmobiles.

Lost Man Campground - Lost Man Family Campground is situated directly across Independence Pass road from Lostman Trailhead. The campsites are within a lodgepole pine forest at an elevation of 10,500 feet

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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