Colorado is Home to an Abandoned Town Most People Don’t Know

Colorado boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Amidst its scenic wonders lie remnants of the past – ghost towns, abandoned relics of the mining boom that defined the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While some, like St. Elmo, Independence, and Crystal Mill, have become tourist hotspots, others remain obscure, hidden treasures in the mountains. One such forgotten gem is Ashcroft, a dilapidated silver mining town near Aspen.

The Rise and Fall of Ashcroft

Founded in 1880 by silver-seeking prospectors in the Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft swiftly flourished, boasting a population exceeding 2,000. The town boasted over 20 saloons, hotels, stores, and even had aspirations to become the state capital.

Despite a post office, school, and church, Ashcroft’s prosperity proved short-lived. By 1885, depleted silver veins prompted a mass exodus to the more lucrative Aspen, leaving Ashcroft a mere shadow of its former self. A brief revival in the 1890s with a railroad connection failed to stave off decline, and by 1900, the town was practically deserted.

Ashcroft Today

Though a ghost town, Ashcroft’s story did not end in oblivion. In 1939, investors reimagined it as a ski resort, naming it Highland. A lodge, ski lift, and run were added, managed by Olympic skier Ted Ryan. Post-World War II, the resort closed due to lack of visitors.

Ryan, Ashcroft’s unofficial caretaker, passed away in 1962. Designated a National Historic Place in 1974, Ashcroft was acquired by the Aspen Historical Society in 1987, preserving it as a historic site. Visitors can explore the remnants of the Blue Mirror Saloon, Tam O’Shanter Hotel, and the post office, delving into Ashcroft’s captivating history.

Why You Should Visit Ashcroft

A hidden gem in Colorado, Ashcroft invites exploration into its past and present. Amidst the remains of this ghost town, the echoes of Colorado’s mining era resonate. Surrounded by the tranquility of the Rocky Mountains, Ashcroft offers an escape from urban chaos, inviting visitors to reconnect with nature. Beyond the historical allure, it’s a destination for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing, embraced by the scenic White River National Forest.


Ashcroft beckons as a unique and adventurous destination, a ghost town revealing layers of history and the splendor of nature. It’s a place to escape, create lasting memories, and uncover unexpected treasures. In Colorado’s mosaic, Ashcroft stands not just as a ghost town but as a timeless treasure waiting to be discovered.

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