Ashcroft Ghost Town


11 miles up Castle Creek Rd. from the roundabout on Highway 82 at the west entrance to Aspen


Beginning June 14: open daily with docent on-site 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Self-guided and honor system admission during fall, winter, and spring


Children 18 & under free (must be accompanied by an adult)
Free for active military personnel

Honor system admission box located on welcome sign

Located eleven miles up Castle Creek Road among spectacular alpine meadows at the storied headwaters of Castle Creek, the former silver mining ghost town features the restored remains of several historical buildings, including a saloon, post office, and hotel. Docents (during open hours) and interpretive signage tell the stories of the boom town that once rivaled Aspen.

Discover Ashcroft in the Archives

View historical photographs, maps, and artifacts related to Ashcroft Ghost Town in the online archives.



Grounds Rentals

Experience the magic of an historic ghost town located at the headwaters of the pristine Castle Creek Valley. This extraordinary site is available for ceremonies only and features stunning high alpine scenery in an unmatched historic setting.

Available June through September

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Site History

1880 - 1885

Silver Mining

Silver was discovered in the upper Castle Creek Valley in 1880, leading to the establishment of Ashcroft, a transportation hub and mining town. However, the prosperity was short-lived, and Ashcroft eventually became a ghost town.

The Castle Creek Valley was once home to the Ute people, who used the area for summer hunting and foraging. However, with the discovery of gold and silver in the Colorado Territory, the Ute people were gradually displaced, and ultimately, in 1881, they were forcibly removed to reservations in southern Colorado and eastern Utah.

Image of an encampment of Ute Indians with horses and tipis in the background as a Ute woman rests against a travois with her child on her back. Circa 1880s.
Photo | Denver Public Library

In the spring of 1880, prospectors Charles B. Culver and W. F. Coxhead left the boomtown of Leadville to search for silver deposits in the Castle Creek Valley. After vigorously promoting their findings back in Leadville, Coxhead returned to find 23 more prospectors had joined “Crazy Culver” in the camp they named Castle Forks City. They had already formed a Miner’s Protective Association, built a courthouse, and laid out the streets.

Town of Ashcroft from the east looking over the town taken from Taylor Pass Toll Road, circa 1881.
Photo | Aspen Historical Society

1885 - 1912

Prospectors, Boosters & Town Fathers

As quickly as it boomed, Ashcroft went bust. Mines closed when ore veins turned out to be only shallow surface deposits. By 1883, Ashcroft residents were moving to Aspen, sometimes taking their cabins with them. Of the five mining camps established in the Roaring Fork Valley, only Aspen survived the mining economy boom-and-bust cycle.

Several attempts were made to revive the area. However, by 1912, the population had dwindled to less than 50 residents, and Ashcroft gradually declined into a ghost town.


One b/w glossy photograph of a large group of people in front of the Post Office at Ashcroft, 1900-. Most are riding mules, and are young men.
Photo | Aspen Historical Society

Young men on mules in front of the Post Office at Ashcroft, circa 1900.

ne b/w photograph of the town of Ashcroft taken from the Taylor Pass Toll Road, 1916. It is an overhead shot, and many buildings are visible.
Photo | Aspen Historical Society

1916 - 1942

From Mining to Skiing

In 1936, the area’s first ski resort, Highland Bavarian Lodge, incorporated Ashcroft into its development. Unfortunately, the death of one of the partners during World War II led to the project’s downfall. During World War II, one of the other partners, Ted Ryan, gave permission for the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division to conduct training exercises near Ashcroft, where soldiers practiced climbing and bridge building.

One b/w photograph of the Highland Bavarian Lodge and the Ashcroft Ski Area, 1938.
Photo | Aspen Historical Society

1942 - 1973

Environmental Stewardship

In 1948, Stuart Mace, a 10th Mountain Division veteran, built Toklat Lodge across Castle Creek Road from the ghost town. Mace and his family ran a dog sledding operation from the lodge and acted as caretakers of the ghost town. Mace’s environmental stewardship preserved the valley’s pristine natural beauty for all visitors.

Milly Kaeser riding in a dogsled through Ashcroft driven by Stuart Mace, circa 1949.
Photo | Aspen Historical Society, Kaeser Collection

1974 - Present

National Historic Site

In 1974, Mace was joined in that effort by Aspen Historical Society when the USFS permitted AHS to manage the town site. Under the direction of Ramona Markalunas, Ashcroft became a Nationally Registered Historic Site.

Today, Ashcroft attracts thousands more tourists each year than the number of residents who have ever lived here. Ashcroft’s legacy is to educate about the history of those who lived, succeeded, and failed in this magnificent valley and to appreciate and protect its natural beauty.

Points of Interest

Color image of the Kinney Mercantile building.

Point of Interest

Kinney Mercantile

The first businesses in Ashcroft catered to the needs of prospectors and miners who poured into the area, hoping to strike it rich. McCarthy & Flynn’s General Store was the first to open its doors, supplying everything from shovels to long underwear. Nellie Bird operated a lodging house out of a tent, and Ed Hughes’ Pioneer Saloon served the mostly male population. Mining-related professions such as surveyors, assayers, attorneys, and mining stockbrokers were also necessary to support the growing population.

Point of Interest

The Post Office

The post office is an original building in its original location. It is not, however, the original post office. If you look at early Ashcroft photographs, you’ll notice that the post office is a much larger building. As the town shrunk, so did the post office. They moved it from the large building to this smaller one which was easier to maintain.

Additional Locations

Independence Ghost Town

16 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82

Wheeler / Stallard Museum

620 W. Bleeker Street

Holden/Marolt Museum

40180 Highway 82

Archives Office

620 W. Bleeker Street

Land Acknowledgement
We gratefully acknowledge we gather on the land of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute Nation, or Nuche, past and present. We honor this land and the people who lived in harmony with the natural world for generations before their forced removal. We are committed to sharing the complete history of the land, recognizing and partnering with Native Peoples, and supporting the advancement of Native places and heritage. This calls us all to be better stewards of the land we inhabit and the natural resources we benefit from today.