From Denver you drive over the Continental Divide, an impressive geological feature that dictates which way the water flows in the United States, either towards the East Coast or West. After which you immediately start to see an amazing change of scenery, as tears in the evergreen furs reveal bright yellow trees, and you know you have arrived in it’s namesake, Aspen Colorado.
Aspen is an art focused town, so a trip to the Anderson Ranch Arts Center is kind of a must. Founded in 1966 this 5 acre ranch hosts some of the most prestigious Art internships in the world, offering hundreds of courses in intensive artistic endeavors. Visitors are welcomed to tour the ranch to see their rotating exhibitions and facilities, or have lunch in their world class café.
Coming down from the Snowmass area into town, we stop to check into our hotel, the Aspen Meadows. The rooms here are utilitarian. Simple clean functional, as their intent is to get you to go outside. The Meadows you see isn’t so much a hotel as a mental space. Designed by artist Herbert Bayer, the meadows is a cultural space based on the principles of Bauhaus design, where mind, body, and spirit come together as one. Here everything was designed to get you moving, and get you talking. Colors are intended to spur imagination, and the art you find built into the property is meant to be experienced, walked through, and climbed upon. With a health club, world class restaurant and two art galleries it is a very unique place to stay.
Properly inspired it was time to explore Aspen’s greatest asset, nature, so we made our ascent to the famed Maroon Bells mountain range which you can do by car or take a mountain bike. Yeah, an E mountain bike, which can be easily rented at the base of the mountain and within minutes you can find yourself barely pedaling up some of the most absolutely beautiful country you have ever seen. While you will be hard pressed to stop often to take snaps of the insane colors that pour down off the mountain, the main event will simply blow your mind. At the apex you will find the base of the Maroon bells, and ridge so perfectly framed by the valley it looks like it was etched out of the sky by hand. While this hour long trek will certainly amaze you, downtown Aspen has it’s own natural beauty that’s nothing to sneeze at.
John Denver Sanctuary park is a stunning place, perfect for a picnic, or to meander through it’s winding trails reading inspiring saying etched into the rocks. perhaps most fascinating is that this is actually a water treatment plant if you can believe it, and by far the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen, complete with completely regulation height basketball courts to play in.
Venturing into town, walking down cobbled streets it is easy to fall in love with Aspen’s charm. A stop into Kemosabe is required to whines the birth of some of the finest cowboy hats in creation, or perhaps pick up a Colorado sized flask for your next ride to Maroon Bells. Next ducking into the Hotel Jerome is recommended. Build in 1880 this historic landmark drips with opulent history and is a great place to explore it’s well appointed lobby to have a drink or even do a spot of work. Don’t forget to see their prized original Adam Sandler Water Boy Film Poster located in the lobby. Outside the fun continues in a patio scene that looks like a Renoir painting and while a drink poolside might entice you, the real deal is inside their historic J Bar. It’s hard not to get a feel for the old Aspen here, especially if you order an Aspen Crud, which is a milk shake originally designed to be a way to serve booze during prohibition. If old timey lactose long drinks aren’t your thing you could check out Jimmy’s for their world famous espresso martini, or go where the locals go and hit up the Red Onion for 10 buck pitchers of Coors which is considered a local beer here.
Well libated it was time for dinner at the exquisite Bosq where Chef Barclay Dodge creates one of a kind experiences with buttery burrata, savory salmons, titillating turnips, and crazy corn that shouldn’t exist here on earth.
With all these beautiful experiences tucked lovingly in my heart, it’s no wonder so many call Aspen their paradise destination. While it was hard to leave it’s refined mountain culture, there was lots more Colorado had to discover. Until next time Aspen.