We recently went on a tour of Smuggler Mine, which is located a short drive away from downtown Aspen. The cost is $30 per person. You may read on another site that they require 4 people for a tour, but if you ask nicely, they will waive that requirement (there were only 2 of us).
We met our guide, a very personable fellow and a real mining veteran, at the entrance of the mine. He took us into the work shack/office, gave us hardhats, and had us sign releases. He gave us an overview of the history of the mine (which extends for miles and miles in the area) and mining in the Aspen area in general. After that, we walked down a short set of stairs and headed to the entrance; we were warned to watch head clearance, especially in the first stretch of the tunnel (19th century miners were shorter than the average man today!).
Our guide took us through tunnels leading about 1500 feet into the side of the mountain (you're not going down - you're going straight through). Most of the tunnels we went through had plenty of head clearance and were wide enough to not make one feel claustrophobic. It's also very well-lit so it doesn't feel very confining at all, much less so than I assumed going in. The guide told us the temperature within the mine hovers around 52 degrees, if I recall correctly. We spent somewhere between 75-90 minutes in the mine - we were having such a good time, I actually keep careful track of the time.
The guide is great in that he sticks to facts: about this mine, about the minerals, about the past and future of the mine. Don't go on this tour expecting to be told tall tales of "smugglers" or ghosts or any of that other nonsense - that's not what it's about. It is a fun, educational tour which anyone who enjoys history, geology, or natural beauty would particularly enjoy. The two of us are interested in those subjects and we asked lots of questions, which our guide was happy to answer. He seems very proud of his work and knowledge.
Bottom line: try this tour! It's off the beaten path and it's not often you get to visit a non-abandoned 19th century mine.
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