Before it was the idyllic, bustling mountain town it is today, Aspen was a boom town. It was founded by miners in 1879 and named Ute City after the Native American Ute tribe that resided in the area. A year later, the name Aspen was adopted for the multitude of aspen trees throughout the town.
Many buildings in Aspen that date back to the late 1800s still survive today and are preserved and maintained by the Aspen Historical Society as well as cooperative and passionate locals. The Aspen Historical Society gives multiple weekly tours throughout the summer and maintains various museums dedicated to the history of Aspen.
Please note that the schedules and rates listed below were current as of June 6, 2018. Please visit www.AspenHistory.org for up-to-date information on history tours.
History Coach Tour
Take a load off in the electric, open-air cart and see Aspen's best historical sites. The best way to cover a lot of ground, this tour includes visits to the Wheeler/Stallard Museum and the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum.
Daily Tuesday - Saturday
2 1/4 hours
$25 per adult
Hosted by a period-outfitted tour guide, the West End Walking Tour leads guests through the unique and interesting architecture and landmarks of the historic West End neighborhood complete with facts about the homes and people who lived in them.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
1 1/2 hour
$15 per adult
New this summer, the Historic Downtown Tour will walk guests to historic buildings and sites and will entertain with stories through every nook and corner of downtown Aspen.
Wednesdays and Fridays
2 1/4 hours
$15 per adult
If the miners weren't mining in the 1800s, odds are good they were drinking. This tour starts at the historic Red Onion and winds its way through town and through recent history ending at the new Aspen Brewing Company's Tap Room.
1 1/2 hours
$20 per adult, must be 21, includes a drink at each establishment
Aspen has had its fair share of notable residents. Hear stories of these people and visit their final resting place with a tour of the historic Red Butte Cemetary.
$15 per adult
The Aspen Historical Society also hosts a series of hikes throughout the summer to show off some of the notable sites outside of walking distance to town. Whether you choose the ghost town of Ashcroft up Castle Creek or the abandoned mining town up Independence Pass, you'll be sure to learn something of the history and see some unobstructed beauty along the way. Various difficulty levels are offered.
The headquarters of the Aspen Historical Society, the Wheeler/Stallard Museum is located in one of Aspen's most stunning Victorian mansions and is named for two of Aspen's patrons. Admission includes access to all stationary exhibits as well as the temporary exhibit featuring Hunter S. Thompson.
Depending on the era, silver mining and ranching are the two industries that sustained Aspen prior to skiing coming in the 1930s. Visitors to the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum will jump back in time to the 1800s to explore how these two industries made Aspen what it is today.
The Hotel Jerome is one of the oldest buildings in town having opened in 1889. The back hallway of the building between the dining area and the bathrooms has a slew of old photos showing the building as one of only a few buildings on Main Street.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
The recent renovations of the Wheeler Opera House included a litany of images and information regarding the building's history in the second floor lobby. It has withstood fires, booms, recessions and more.
If you're inspired to learn more about Aspen's storied past, book your vacation with Frias Properties today. Start by browsing our vacation rentals online, and get recommendations about where to stay from our Aspen-based reservations specialists.