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Halloween 2020 in Aspen: What you need to know this year

Ashcroft ghost town. You can ski or snowshoe through the ghost town while on the Ashcroft Ski Touring trail network.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Like everything else, Halloween won’t be the same this year. But Aspen and Snowmass will find ways to celebrate safely and with social distance.

The rising number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations statewide and this week’s increased restrictions and shutdowns on the Front Range are stark reminders of what’s at stake, so do not throw or attend a party and do wear a mask.

It’s a heartbreaker for Aspen’s “locals’ holiday.” Normally, Halloween is when service and ski industry folks — who are grinding for New Year’s, Independence Day and most big holidays — have enough time to properly party around here. The fact that Halloween 2020 falls on a Saturday, falls on a full moon night, and falls the night before Daylights Savings Time gives us an extra hour of sleep is salt in the wound.

“COVID is ruining the best Halloween ever,” said Ryan Honey, director of the Arts Campus at Willits, whose nonprofit last weekend hosted a socially distanced and family-friendly drive-in. “It’s like the Holy Grail of Halloweens.”

Next year may be more like normal, with kids jamming into the North 40 and the Boo Bash, grown-ups crammed on the dancefloors at the Caribou Club and Belly Up Aspen. But this year will be different. Here are COVID-safe ways to celebrate in 2020:

GHOST TOWNS

Few things are as creepy as a Rocky Mountain ghost town in October. Two worth a day trip this weekend: Ashcroft Ghost Town, about 11 miles up Castle Creek Road, where on a self-guided walking tour you’ll find an abandoned saloon, post office and other remnants of the 1880s boomtown; and Independence Ghost Town, about 16 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82, where you’ll find remnants of the first mining camp in the Roaring Fork Valley. The Aspen Historical Society offers guided tours of Independence by appointment. aspenhistory.org

CEMETERY & GHOST TOURS

The longtime local guide Dean Weiler has two popular hour-long walking tours: Aspen’s DarkSide, which winds through downtown with true tales of hauntings and murder, and his Walk With the Dead cemetery tour, which covers the Ute Cemetery. aspenwalkingtours.com

The Aspen Historical Society also hosts walking tours of Red Butte Cemetery by appointment. aspenhistory.org

PUMPKIN-SPOTTING ON THE FRYING PAN

Each October, pumpkins appear mysteriously along Frying Pan Road between Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir. Drive the road, keep your eyes peeled and join the popular local tradition of “pumpkin-spotting.”

They range from tiny decorative gourds all the way up to jack-o’-lanterns, and you can find them perched on rocks in thor jue middle of the river, nestled in bookcase-like rock walls or adorning road signs and fence posts.

COSTUMED AT THE CARIBOU CLUB

Usually the private club opens to the public and everybody packs in at the ’Bou. This year, instead, the club is offering a four-course Halloween dinner with reservations (and costumes) required. caribouclub.com

STAY IN WITH A SCARY SET-IN-COLORADO MOVIE

Your public health officials will applaud you for this option. There are some impeccable (and impeccably bad) choices for horror flicks set in Colorado: Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park; “Wireless,” in which a Boulder college kid gets stuck in the snow in a made-for-phones thriller on Quibi; “Cannibal! The Musical,” the schlocky student film by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone; “Snowbeast,” a so-bad-it’s good ’70s classic set and shot in Crested Butte; “Phantoms,” where snow monsters and Ben Affleck do battle in the fictional ski town of Snowfield.

Another fave, set in ski country but not in Colorado: Adam Green’s “Frozen,” from 2010 is about snowboarders stuck on a chairlift overnight.

atravers@aspentimes.com


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