In every town there are a few secrets unique to the area that only the locals know – that is until someone writes about them online or in a book. In Snowmass Village and Aspen the shrines tucked away throughout the forest dedicated to musicians, Hollywood stars and other famous people are some of the most prized local secrets.
The Aspen Times this week featured an article discussing David Wood’s new book, “Sanctuaries in the Snow: The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass” in which he details many of these shrines. Wood, a part-time local to the area, has a deep affection for the shrines, and although he opens them up to the world, he does not reveal their exact location, per local code. Instead he reveals the almost magnetic draw of these eclectic shrines, which have sprung up throughout the years spontaneously and randomly on the whim of residents and visitors with a deep attachment to a particular famous person, perhaps personal, perhaps from afar. These shrines have grown through the years with additions of art and memorabilia from other fans, friends and visitors.
One of the most appealing aspects of these shrines is their unpredictable and unplanned placement in the forest. Searching for them is like a scavenger hunt across four mountains on skis. Some of the shrines fall into neglect and disrepair, like Marilyn Monroe’s, until recently. Others, like Jerry Garcia’s are world famous and grow every year.
Wood has enjoyed his personal odyssey as he has hunted down, photographed and catalogued as many of these shrines as possible, first on a webpage, then Facebook and finally in his recent book. Because this has been a labor of love, born out of his affection for Snowmass Village and Aspen, Wood is not personally profiting from this publication. Rather all proceeds, outside of his expenses, will go toward the Roaring Fork Valley Scholarship Fund. This fund directly assists local children to afford and attend college.
While there is some controversy surrounding the revelation of local secrets, no one can doubt the fact that these shrines do more than offer skiers a fun scavenger hunt on top of the already fantastic snow and amazing runs Snowmass Village and Aspen offer their residents and visitors. These shrines further impress the fact that although these mountain towns are thousands of miles from Hollywood, there is an unmistakable trace of Hollywood here.
Whether one finds it in the local theatre, the amazing film festivals, celebrities dining in a local restaurant, famous singers having coffee down the street, or in shrines tacked upon the trees. There is something distinctly famous about Aspen and Snowmass Village.
Although Aspen and Snowmass Village have the shopping, the style, the après ski events and the culture of Hollywood, not to mention the celebrity residents, they also have a community in which people know each other by their first names. They are a community that offers year-round fundraising opportunities for those within their community in need of assistance or those trying to advance a cause. Famous, infamous and unknown people have found and loved their homes, community and neighbors since Aspen and Snowmass Village’s inception.
Although famous, and famously loved – Snowmass Village and Aspen are also distinctly themselves, tree art and all.
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