Aspen and John Denver’s Sanctuary

So on the same weekend we visited Rifle Falls, we decided to take a trip to Aspen. Aspen is only about an hour and ten minutes from us, so it was an easy day trip. We heard that the Aspen Wine and Food Festival was going on. It’s a place a lot of celebrities turn up. While we weren’t going to the Wine and Food festival because tickets for this event were over $1000 dollars, we were hoping to spot some celebrities and eat at a nice restaurant. We picked the White House to eat at. A co-worker of Scott’s suggested that we eat there. It was definitely delicious but a little pricey, as I’m sure anything in Aspen is. 

Lunch at the White House….No Celebrities There. 😉 

Aspen Ski Area

After a nice stroll down some city streets and seeing the ski area that sits right at the edge of downtown Aspen, we decided to check out John Denver’s Sanctuary. It did not disappoint. It was beautiful! This sanctuary sits on the edge of the Roaring Fork River and let me tell you it was “roaring”! As cliché as it sounds, the sanctuary was beautiful with its awe-inspiring rock and floral gardens and babbling brooks. Yes, babbling brooks! The sound of water is a constant and it’s so soothing. We plan on going back sometime this summer and making a picnic out of it right there at the sanctuary. There are picnic tables to do just that. 

Around every bend, there was something to see like rocky alcoves with a stream running through it and flowers and lily pads.  There were giant stones with John Denver’s poems or songs engraved on them. You could even find quotes from people he found inspirational, like Henry David Thoreau.

We found ourselves walking down a trail alongside the Roaring Fork and as a clearing opened up an 11-year-old boy and his dog approached the river bank. The boy dropped the leash to his 200-pound Mastiff. The dog, without hesitation, jumps right into the river and is swept down some falls, but makes it over to a peninsula. The 11-year-old seemed panicked but did probably what anyone who cares about someone or something else would have done, he got into the river and made it over to the peninsula, but the dog took off running down the peninsula toward more water, but he was hard to spot because of the thick brush. His friend was equally freaked out and tried to guide the boy who had made it over to the peninsula to where his dog was, from the other bank. 

Being a mother I was very concerned about the boy who crossed the river and wasn’t about to leave that area until he was back across safely. We decided to follow his friend down the trail alongside the river to offer any assistance we could.  Scott ended up holding the leash of his friend’s other dog (a little terrier) while his friend tried to coax the Mastiff back across the river. Scott observed the situation a little more and suggested to the boys that they go back up the peninsula to where the boy originally crossed safely. So the boys headed in that direction. Scott had to find a restroom but I wanted to stay to make sure all went well. 

Coming down the trail in my direction was a police officer on a bike. He stopped and took a look around and as soon as I realized he was an officer I told him about the situation. The officer hollered out to the boy and asked if he and his dog were okay. They said they were fine, but the boy was concerned that he was in trouble and was worried what his mom would say. I sensed his panic and the officer and I had a chuckle about it. The officer went up and down the river bank looking for an easy way to cross back but didn’t find one. The officer explained that he used to be a river rescue worker and that with a 200-pound dog, he was afraid the boy would be swept with his dog down the river, that it wouldn’t be as easy to cross back with the dog as it was to go in after the dog.

That is when the officer started radioing help and a river rescue began. The officer asked me other details about what I observed and how the boy and dog got across the river and if I was related. I gave him all the information I could while a crowd gathered at the bank. We learned that the boy’s name was Sky and his dog’s name was Otie. I saw the boy was shivering and the officer noticed as well and said, “just three minutes in this water and blood in his limbs that make it to his core can cause his heart to stop”. He said, “It’s really important that he doesn’t get swept away by the heavy dog, so we will do a river rescue and get him and his dog across safely”.  The officer thanked me for flagging him down, but we weren’t about to leave yet. We wanted to see the river rescue team get them across. 

About 10 minutes later, the team arrived and about 5 minutes after that, they had wetsuits on and rope and had helped the boy across. The dog proved to be a little more difficult and resisted the rescue at first. After experiencing how cold the water was, he didn’t want to get back in. They had to force him in, but once he was in, he quickly started cooperating. 

We stayed in the area just long enough to watch them bring Otie across and then headed off to explore more of the sanctuary. I really didn’t want to leave. I want to plan a weekend to come back and just have a picnic at the sanctuary. I am so happy Aspen is so close to where I live. An hour and ten-minute drive really isn’t that bad for a peaceful place to spend a summer afternoon.  

Have you ever been to Aspen?

About Heather Jones

I'm just a wife and mom of two boys trying to find her place in this world. I enjoy walks around the lake, bible journaling, and RV camping with my family.

Heartfully Heather


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Heather Jones

I'm just a wife and mom of two boys trying to find her place in this world. I enjoy walks around the lake, bible journaling, and RV camping with my family.

15 thoughts on “Aspen and John Denver’s Sanctuary

  1. I’ve never been to Aspen, but I’ve seen how beautiful this place is in photos. I would love to go one day. Lucky for the boy and his friend that you were there.

  2. I think it’s awesome that you decided to go to Aspen and just spend time together as a family. White House sounds nice and I think I’m going to enjoy the Sanctuary the most! It sounds like you had quite a day! I’m glad the boy and his dog were rescued!

  3. Wow, all of that green is stunning! I have never been to Aspen, but we have visited Vail many times and it is the same beauty and so much outside stuff to do.

  4. This looks like a fabulous place to visit. It would be great to take the kids. I have heard amazing things about Denver! I will have to book a vacation soon.

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