A Hands-on History Tour from Glenwood Springs to Aspen
For a fun, fresh look at Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley let history be your guide on your next trip to Glenwood Springs.
Follow a path originally laid down by explorers, visionaries, fugitives and ordinary folks. At times, it’s a well-trodden route to major attractions in Glenwood Springs, then a barely discernable trail to off-the-beaten-path surprises elsewhere in the valley. Our three-day Roaring Fork Valley history itinerary points the way to fascinating places you may not have known about before.
With your vacation base in Glenwood Springs, you can easily explore historical points of interest throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Three days or an extended weekend is plenty of time to immerse yourself in Glenwood’s rich past as well as take day trips further afield.
Stay in Time Honored Accommodations
Historic Lodging Choices
Nothing sets the tone for your vacation more than where you stay. Before you arrive carefully consider your lodging choices. Glenwood Springs has many options for historic lodging from iconic hotels in downtown to refurbished cabins on the outskirts of town.
See the Artifacts They Left Behind
To get a feel for what life was like, as well as speak with experts who can answer all your questions, visit a history museum. Each town has its own unique stories. Delve into the past at the Frontier Historical Museum and Doc Holliday Museum in Glenwood Springs, the Thompson House Museum in Carbondale and the Wheeler Stallard Museum and Holden Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum in Aspen.
Turn Back Time
Next up, plan your activity itinerary. Below are themed suggestions for things to do over three days. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to squeeze everything into a single trip, feel free to mix and match for a customized history tour of the Roaring Fork Valley based on your time and interests. If you can’t see it all this time around, don’t worry, return to Glenwood Springs at a later date to complete your explorations.
Mingle with Victorian High Society. Wealthy captains of industry built some of the most famous landmarks in the Roaring Fork Valley. These architectural gems include stately hotels, world-famous hot springs attractions, top-end entertainment venues and even a genuine castle on a hill!
- Hotel Colorado
- Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
- Wheeler Opera House
- Hotel Jerome
Unearth Natural Resources. Mining was a major industry in the late 1800s drawing people from all walks of life to the area. The silver boom created great wealth in Aspen until it went bust leaving behind ghost towns. Coal coking operations in South Glenwood’s Cardiff area, Redstone and Basalt supplied a key ingredient in the manufacture of steel, while the area’s pure white marble was excavated and used to build some of the nation’s most recognizable monuments. Beginning in the 1950s, world-class skiing became the commodity of the day.
- Cardiff Coke Ovens
- Town of Marble
- Basalt Kilns
- Ashcroft Ghost Town
- Silver Queen Gondola
Embrace the Spirit of the West on Historic Hikes & Trails. Pay attention to the past while exploring the Roaring Fork Valley’s great outdoors. A visit to Doc’s memorial marker is a quick hike from town, but summitting Mt. Sopris, the 12,965-foot peak named for Captain Richard Sopris is an all-day trek that requires careful planning. For a great example of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), a public works program of the 1930s, head to Chapman Dam where you can also go paddling in the reservoir. Grandstaff Trail honors black cowboy and prospector William Grandstaff and the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen pays tribute to the late singer’s love of the Rocky Mountains’ natural beauty.
- Doc Holliday trail to Linwood Cemetery
- Grandstaff mountain biking trail
- Mount Sopris
- Chapman Dam and Reservoir
- John Denver Sanctuary
Taking your vacation cues from the region’s forerunners is a unique way to organize your Colorado vacation. Learn more and make plans to visit Glenwood Springs today!
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