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

Quick Facts

Ashcroft Historic Townsite

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General Description

Once a thriving mining town with a population of over 5,000 people, Ashcroft has been reduced to a few dilapidated buildings surrounding the boardwalk
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Once a thriving mining town with a population of over 5,000 people, Ashcroft has been reduced to a few dilapidated buildings surrounding the boardwalk
With the discovery of silver here in 1879, the town was laid out as a mining community in 1880. First named Castle Forks, the town was renamed Chloride and then Ashcroft. It was linked by stage to Buena Vista and Leadville and by telegraph line and wagon road to Aspen and Crested Butte. The mining community hailed Ashcroft as a boomtown in 1882. The railroads bypassed Ashcroft in 1887, making it a ghost town by 1900. A group of skiing enthusiasts acquired the townsite in 1937, and it was an early training area for 10th Mountain Ski Troops during W.W.II. Ashcroft became the home of Isabel and Stuart Mace and their Toklat sled dogs--"Yukon" to Hollywood's "Sgt. Preston." The last private owner of the property was Ted Ryan, a ski pioneer, who maintained the townsite as a cross-country skiing complex. In 1953 Ted Ryan deeded the townsite to the Forest Service. The site is currently maintained and preserved by the Aspen Historical Society and the National Forest, as a reminder of our mining heritage.

Directions from Aspen: To reach Ashcroft, drive west from Aspen on highway 82, turn left on Maroon Creek Road, and again left onto Castle Creek Road (Maroon Creek Road is located across from the Golf Course immediately outside of Aspen - the second signal light.). Ashcroft will be found approximately 11 miles up Castle Creek Road on the left. Ashcroft is maintained by the Aspen Historical Society under a "Special Use Permit" with the USDA, Forest Service.

Seasonal Information:
Normal Summer Season: June through September (NOTE: The beauty of Castle Creek valley affords the opportunities to hike, climb, camp, fish, explore, botanize, etc.) . Normally Accessible: Late November through May (NOTE: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Castle Creek road closed above Ashcroft. Sleigh riding also possible.) .

Fee Information
Type Price Remarks
Entrance Fee Call for Current Fee Helps preserve the Ghost Town.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Ranger TipBring a camera

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Filed By: Norma Kirsh (Toronto, AL)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We recently had the opportunity to visit Ashcroft and were delighted to find this little gem. Howie Kuhn was our guide and provided us with an interesing, informative and fun tour of this ghost town. He is dedicated and knowledgable and our visit was quite fascinating. In particular he related extensive information about the hiatory of the site and its former inhabitants, as well as the plants and animals in the area. We were impressed by his personal story of living on site, alone, several days a week in a rough cabin without running water or electricity or toilet facilities other than an out-house and beyond cell phone range. This young man is a valuable asset to your department. Norma and Ernie Kirsh, and Carole and Harold Wolfe, Toronto Canada

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Beautiful time of year to visit the Ghost Town. Interpretive signs very informative. Be prepared to pay the $3 entrance fee--it is not longer a donation. It goes to a worthy cause, however.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cross-country Skiing Ashcroft townsite
ICON Viewing Interpretive Signs Ashcroft Historic Townsite

Related Activities
Ashcroft Ski Touring Center - Located 12 miles above Aspen in the spectacular Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft offers 35 kilometers of groomed terrain for all levels of Nordic skiers.

Castle Creek Road - This drive is one of the most enjoyable drives in the Aspen area. The paved road follows Castle Creek 13 miles up the valley.

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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