The Washington Times - May 29, 2008, 07:32PM

Aspen, Colorado … Flying over the mountains into Denver, there is a perceptible change in the landscape, even from thousands of feet in the air. 

Though it is June, you can see the snow covered peaks surrounded by cloudy halos and the very dark green of the conifers and ancient forests.


The Rocky Mountains are very much a defining landmark for Colorado, and American.  The are lauded in poem, The Rocky Mountains at Sunset, by Hattie Almira Reed, and John Denver’s song Rocky Mountain High.

They are one of our most iconic images, as in Ansel Adams famous black and white rendering of The Maroon Bells, some of the Rocky’s most fabulous peaks.

The Maroon Bells Mountains, Aspen, CO (Photo by Jacquie Kubin)
Before heading out to Aspen, Colorado a few nights stay takes the traveler to The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.  This hotel has been opened continuously since it opened on August 12, 1892, maintaining a place of grandeur and historic elegance in downtown Denver.

One of the hotel’s unique draws is the artesian well, located 720 feet deep beneath the lobby and that provides water to every faucet in the hotel.

Heading out of Denver toward Aspen, the expectation was a leisurely and lovely drive, however the warning to start that drive well before nightfall was not heard, or possibly ignored. 

In order to get to the higher elevations of Aspen, one must climb the lower peaks of the mountains.  These peaks are filled with glacial ice and darker than dark abysses.

Flip the scene over and the only difference between the dark below and the dark above are the amazing stars.

At the top of the pass, a snow squall, just short of a blizzard and now, instead of just rock to the right and dark to the left, there is an eight-foot thick snow pack to the right and those stars are no-longer visible. 

Actually nothing but snow is visible.

After some time, The Hotel Jerome shines and an immediate sense of calm and elation descends.

Warmth. Safety. Food.  All at arms reach.

The Historical Hotel Jerome was built in the late 1800’s as a quality stop for those interested in seeing, and possibly investing in, a very lively silver mining industry.  Here in Aspen, the world’s most valuable silver nugget, 93 percent pure and weighing 2,350 pounds, was found in the Smugglers Mine.

But it took Jerome Wheeler and his influx of cold, hard cash to bring Aspen to the forefront of the mining boom. Independence Pass and the Continental Divide provide a formidable foe to those needing to bring supplies in and silver ore out of the mountains. 

Jerome Wheeler, along with a handful of investors, brought the railroad into Aspen along with an early history of Grande Excess as the “swells,” the wealthy societal upper crust, traveled to Aspen.

They came not only to witness, and profit, from this silver boomtown but also for the therapeutic air and health-giving qualities of the mountain environ. 

But that was then and this is now.  And now The Hotel Jerome must be, without a singular doubt in my mind, one of the most premier friend and family destinations in the U.S., if not the world.

Jacquie Kubin is a writer and editor for Donne Tempo Magazine > and a fan of the work of photographer, Ansel Adams.  Visiting the Maroon Bells mountains has been a lifelong dream come true.  Visit Donne Tempo for more of her Rockie Mountain photography. 

(continue to part 2)