Smuggler Mine

Useful Information

Location: 110 Smuggler Mountain Rd, Aspen, CO 81611.
(39.192124, -106.807049)
Open: All year daily 10, 12, 14.
Reservation mandatory.
Fee: Adults USD 40.
Classification: MineSilver Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: VR=300 m, T=10 °C.
Guided tours: D=1.5 h, MinAge=5.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Smuggler Mine, 110 Smuggler Mountain Rd, Aspen, CO 81611, Tel: +1-970-925-2049.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


04-JUL-1879 Independence Gold Lode discovered.
1880 300 people living in the camp.
1894 world's largest silver nugget with 830 kg found.
NOV-1901 22 men killed as a result of a fire in the mine.
1918 mine closed.
1970s mine reopened.
18-MAY-1987 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Smuggler Mine produced once the world's largest silver nugget, weighing over 816 kg and roughly the size of a Volkswagen. Located on the slopes of Smuggler Mountain, on the north edge of Aspen, Colorado, the mine is still operating. It is the oldest operating silver mine in the Aspen mining district. It was opened in 1879 when the silver lode was discovered, in the early years of the silver rush.

The prospectors who found Smuggler vein, were Edward Fuller and Con Allbright. They never officially filed the claim, they sold it very soon for necessary supplies. During a forest fire, they had lost their blankets and, possibly, their mules. Some other prospectors resupplied them. They sold their discovery to the prospectors who had resupplied them, and then left the area, never to return. Allbright's price included a mule, who died the next day.

The Smuggler vein was discovered in 1879 and was the first gold discovery in San Miguel County. However, the Aspen of today did not yet exist and the vein was located high up on the mountain in extremely remote and rugged terrain. The mining started in 1879 but no ore was shipped until 1881. And it took a few more years for the first significant ore shipments. Despite the slow start, the mine became one of the three largest in the district, along with the Tomboy and the Libery Bell. A mine camp developed at the mine entrance which had a post office from 1895 to 1928. The population of the mine camp was about two to three hundred. Violence related to labour disputes, fatal mine accidents, and destruction by fire and avalanche were frequent.

During its heydays, the mine produced almost one-fifth of the world's total silver production. But it was shortlived, the Panic of 1893 ended the Colorado Silver Boom. Mining ended in 1917, both the mine camp and Aspen became deserted. After World War II the city's decline finally reversed with the skiing industry. Tourism was a stable income and the town became famous. Mining resumed at Smuggler Mine in the 1970s, but in 1981 soil samples showed elevated levels of lead and cadmium, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was notified and mining stopped. In the following year it was sold to Stefan Albouy, a mining enthusiast who hoped to make it productive and profitable again. But silver prices were very low, and the mine had to run tours to be at least slightly profitable. He later acquired Compromise Mine as well, and after some battles with the county was able to operate it and run tours there as well. But he died in 1992, and the mine was later acquired by two Aspen natives Chris Preusch and Jay Parker. They continued mining and guiding tours.

Visitors are transported to the mine entrance on the north side of town, within the Roaring Fork Valley. The tour is a walking tour on two different levels and goes 366 m deep into the mountain.