Aspen is the largest city and county seat of Pitkin County, Colorado.
Founded as a mining camp in the Colorado Silver Boom and named because
of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city is now a ski resort and
cultural center. The city emerged as a skiing mecca following World War II and
the foundation of the Aspen Skiing Company by Walter Paepcke, a Chicago
industrialist who sought to create a utopian community of the mind and
body. Paepcke's legacy of the Aspen/Snowmass resorts, along with such
institutions as the Aspen Institute, have made the city a year-round
international destination for recreation, business, and intellectual discourse.
In the late 20th century, the city developed as an off-beat haven for misfits,
attracting such free spirits as John Denver (who wrote several folk songs
about the town, including "Aspenglow", and "Starwood in Aspen") and Hunter
S. Thompson, who was glorified by many locals for his embodiment of the
"freak power" ethic of the community.
- The four ski areas of Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and
Snowmass the obvious major attractions in this area. The area also includes
the nordic trail system, numerous hiking trails, scenic drives and four-wheel
drive roads which are immediately accessible from the two towns.
Recreation - This area offers the full range of outdoor activities but without the solitude of some of the more outlying areas. Containing the four ski areas in the Aspen area, skiing and snowboarding are obvious popular activities. Winter in the area also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Summer also brings abundant activities including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, rafting and more.
Climate - In the valley bottoms, summer high temperatures extend into the 70's and mid 80s, with cool evenings that can often dip into the 30s. Winter lows occasionally dip to minus 30 degrees, though daytime temperatures are often in the 20s to 30s. The relative humidity is quite low throughout the year. Much of the area and its recreation facilities lie at higher elevations where significantly lower temperatures and more precipitation can be expected. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are common. Snow is possible at any time of year in the highest elevations. The high elevation roads and trails are often not clear of snow until mid-July.
This area is located around the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village in
northwest Colorado. Primary access is provided by the Pitking County Airport
and Highway 82 which connects with I-70 in Glenwood Springs. Summer only
access if also provided by Highway 82 over 12,000 foot Independence Pass.