During the summer, a large flag gets attached to a ranch gate at the end of a driveway that intersects with McLain Flats Road. It’s not the American flag or Colorado’s, but the state flag of Texas. And while the influence of Texans is all around Aspen—especially during the summer months—it’s a more conspicuous reminder that the Roaring Fork Valley is filled with Lone Star State residents from June through August.
It turns out the flag’s property owners have been coming to Aspen for more than 40 years, and they spend their summers here. The family wished to remain anonymous when contacted, but first offered an open invitation to say hello—an affable gesture that’s clearly par for the social Texas crowd.
Of the roughly 16,700 properties in Pitkin County, 1,244 are registered to mailing addresses in Texas, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office. Since mailing addresses are usually the place of primary residence, it likely means more than 7 percent of the residential property in the county is owned by Texans.
It should be no surprise, then, that the largest share of summertime Aspen visitors, besides those from other parts of Colorado, come from Texas. In 2016, they accounted for 12.8 percent of visitation, according to a survey completed by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. (California ranked third and Florida fourth.)
But this influx from the South isn’t new. Texans have long been sojourning in the Rocky Mountains, if, above all else, to escape their own region’s stifling heat. In fact, the first burial in Aspen’s Ute Cemetery was that of a Texan: “Col. Kirby,” a mining prospector who fell ill from “mountain fever” after his arduous journey to Colorado in June 1880.
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