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27 Nov 2023
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Aspen Snowmass Vacation Blog

In one of Colorado's most significant fossil discoveries, a construction crew unearthed a single mammoth tusk in 2010 while digging at Ziegler Reservoir in Snowmass Village. Hundreds of people worked to help unearth thousands of prehistoric fossils from the site, making it the richest Ice Age ecosystem ever found at high altitudes.

Findings and Their Significance

The original fossil discovery was determined to be the tusk of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, making it the most complete mammoth fossil found at high elevation (8,870 ft) in Colorado. It is also the highest elevation at which mastodons and giant ground sloths have been discovered in Colorado.

The Snowmass Water and Sanitation District managed the initial discovery, stabilized the site, and cared for the bones collected to date, after which they unanimously voted to donate the fossils to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver Museum of Nature and Science scientists took over the site and discovered 6,000 bones from 10 mammals and over 30,000 small bones from small vertebrate animals – 42 species in all. These bones were discovered and carefully extricated over 10 months and included mammoths, mastodons, Ice Age camels, horses, sloths, insects, plant life, and more.

Snowmass Tourism’s Ice Age Discovery

Snowmass Tourism, in conjunction with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Snowmass Arts Advisory Board, and others worked together to revive the story of the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery as an essential piece of Snowmass history. 

Summer 2023 saw the debut of a series of Ice Age Discovery installations, each a blend of art, science, and nature, bringing the viewer into the story through a series of different mediums around the Village, on trails, and on the web.

View Discovery Timeline


Snowmass Mall MuralsSnowmass Mall and Snowmass Base Village host three murals portraying the Ice Age Discovery. Created by regional, national, and international artists Jeremy Collins, Bunnie Reiss, and Kris Hewitt (known as Studio Kronk,) each artist was inspired and excited by the discovery, using this inspiration to create their pieces.

Spiral Point Trail | Winter hikers and snowshoers can head up the popular Rim Trail to look back in time via a set of three viewfinders at Ziegler Reservoir, the site of the fossil discovery. 

Storybook Walk | Take a storybook walk along the Sleigh Ride Trail to read the story Snowmastadon! Snow Day Adventure by local author Amiee White Beazley. This beginner-friendly trail is great for people looking for a leisurely walk while learning about this important discovery along the way.

Discovery TrailDiscovery Trail, which also offers a fantastic view of Ziegler Reservoir, includes updated trail signs full of fun facts and photos of the important fossil find. Hike or bike this 2-mile trail while exploring the area and learning more about the dig.

Town Park Station Display | Snowmass Guest Services distributes Ice Age Passports, prizes, and information about the discovery in Town Park Station, where visitors can learn more about the Ice Age Discovery.

The Ice Age Passport | Walk through the Snowmass Mall and Base Village and visit each new Ice Age installation with the Ice Age Passport, a printed brochure found at the front desk at Snowmass Town Hall. Those who complete the Passport can redeem it for a one-of-a-kind stuffed mammoth prize at Snowmass Guest Services while supplies last.

Sightseeing and More

The Snowmass Ice Age Discovery is a great way to start your adventures in Snowmass. The winter season has plenty to offer for sightseeing and winter activities in the Aspen Snowmass area. Check out what’s new in the Aspen Snowmass area this winter season. 

See What Makes Aspen Snowmass So Special

At Frias Properties, we can help make your vacation to Aspen Snowmass as unforgettable as the activities and events here. Explore our Aspen vacation rentals or our slope-side condos in Snowmass Village to find the perfect home-away-from-home for your winter adventures.

Guests of Frias Properties receive airport transfers, concierge services, health club access, front desk check-in, housekeeping, and 24/7 maintenance and support, along with their rental.

Contact our Reservation Team today at (970) 920-2010 with any questions.


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