The Aspen area is well-known for having great fall color, and one of the best place to see the marvelous aspens turning yellow and gold is along Castle Creek Road. As a bonus, there is the very picturesque ghost town of Ashcroft set right in the middle of all the splendor.
The traffic circle on the north edge of Aspen is a well-recognized landmark in the town. From this rotary, two dead-end roads head off into the Elk Mountains west of town: Maroon Creek Road, which leads to Maroon Lake and Maroon Bells hikes, and Castle Creek Road which leads to Ashcroft and the Pearl Pass hikes. Both roads are very beautiful, and any visit to Aspen should include them, particularly in September when fall colors are in full swing.
Ashcroft is about 11 miles from the rotary, and it is a popular spot with visitors. There is a large parking area and a tiny visitor center with enthusiastic, knowledgeable volunteers and many old photos and artifacts from the town. Like so many Colorado ghost towns, Ashcroft started out as a mining camp and quickly grew to about 2,500 people, larger than Aspen at the time. Unfortunately, Ashcroft never had railroad access, and it turned out to be too expensive to extract the silver here, so in just a few short years the town's population plummeted. It didn't go to zero for decades, however, and a few hardy souls hung on living here until the last died in 1939.
There was a group of developers planning to build a world-class ski resort in this valley, but World War II interrupted those plans, and one of the key men responsible for the plan died in combat. The old television series Sargeant Preston of the Yukon was filmed here. Today there are several log buildings still standing, including the beautiful View Hotel. A short trail winds through the town, and a short loop can be followed down along the creek.
Castle Creek Road continues another 3 miles to the Pearl Pass trailhead and beautiful views of the Elk Mountain peaks.