Independence Pass in Aspen
With new shops, restaurants and events on the rise, Aspen proves to get better with each season.
Slow living meets cosmopolitan amenities in this small town, and around every corner is a new adventure waiting to happen. Boasting breathtaking peaks, rivers and trails, Aspen is the place to be come snow or shine.
In the winter, grab your gear for alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, skating and snowshoeing, and for the summer, dive right into biking, rafting, climbing, hiking and more. From new restaurants on the rise to annual festivities coming back to life, Aspen is ready to welcome you home.
Going back to the beginning—before all the glitz and glamour—this mountain town was settled in the late 1800s during a silver mining boom. Long before the celebrities and outdoor enthusiasts set up camp, the town drew people in with its personal and unique charm. With century-old brick storefronts, family-owned businesses and one famous bookstore, Aspen had a little something for everyone. And if the stores didn’t catch your eye, the views of Aspen Mountain surely did the trick.
But don’t be fooled—the overflowing amount of outdoor activities do not overpower the cultural scene. In fact, in the mid-1900s, Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute, and since then the Aspen Music Festival and School as well as the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies have taken root. Now, this town offers amazing sights, scenes and sounds to take part of year round.
Whether you’re skiing the slopes, biking in the gravel or chowing down at the annual Food & Wine Classic, this tremendous town will have everyone feeling like a local.
ASPEN INSIDER: DAVE RESSLER: CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital
Like many residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, Dave Ressler prioritizes his health—and with 35 years of healthcare experience under his belt, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two. “The Aspen community is among the healthiest in Colorado and the country, and it is exciting and rewarding to be part of a community that places a high priority on health and active lifestyles,” says Ressler. As CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital, he gets to work with a leadership team of professionals that execute the direction and priorities set by the board, elected president, leaders of the medical staff and a variety of community partners. “It is professionally rewarding to work with an organization that shares its community’s values. This is the case in many respects, including the manner in which our community has responded to COVID, with our high vaccination rate and the protective measures that our business community embraced last year. The level of cooperation that exists between the medical community, public health and the business community is extraordinary in Aspen and not common among other communities.” AVH continues to be a community-owned hospital that upholds personal care of the highest quality in all cases. With over 25 specialties and 70 physicians on staff, it provides a network of care for Aspenites and those in surrounding towns.
What motivates or inspires you?
I am inspired by positive people who are pursuing solutions to difficult challenges in healthcare. In particular, I enjoy working with people and organizations, such as ours, that are tackling the high cost of healthcare and the inability for everyone to access our healthcare system in our country. This is my professional passion and something that I think can be fixed through collaboration and accountability among and between hospitals.
Sunrise to sunset, describe your perfect day in Aspen.
I start most weekdays with a run with my two dogs, Katy and Pepper, all around Aspen—through city streets, on trails and even on slopes in the winter. I admit that a perfect day for me is on a weekend when I can spend more time outdoors with my wife. We love riding or walking into town with no particular purpose other than to enjoy the Aspen vibe.
Healthy living is obviously big around here—what is your outdoor go-to activity?
My go-to outdoor activity is running, with biking a close second in the summer. But I enjoy running all year round. It is how I unwind and process my thoughts. And I particularly like running uphill out and downhill back home.
What about some indoor fun?
I’m a homebody, and I just enjoy being with my wife, my pets (including fish) and hanging out. Of course, that’s when I snack too much.
What’s your favorite place to grab a great, nutritious meal?
Why, at Aspen Valley Hospital’s Castle Creek Café of course! What’s the best-kept secret in town? The best-kept secret is Aspen’s early mornings. No matter how busy the town is, it is quiet in the morning. Everyone greets each other with a ‘good morning,’ as if we are united in our quest for quiet.
What’s a locals favorite way to beat the stress?
Getting outside. That means something different for every local, but the common denominator is breathing in the mountain (usually not smoky) air and noting how each season has its own special way of making us feel. My personal favorite is fall, when the air is crisp and the colors are vibrant.
Photography by: From top, photos courtesy of: Rich Martello/Unsplash, Daniel Bayer; Prescott Horn/Unsplash.