Most people come to Colorado's Aspen Highlands for the skiing-- but that's not all the mountain has to offer. Hidden in the woods just off many of the main ski routes are countless shrines and memorials to all different kinds of people, places, things and events, ranging from Elvis and John Denver (apparently, his contained one of his actual gold records, placed there by his family, before it was stolen) to Fenway Park and Snoopy. Locals, guides and patrols are the experts on these strange sanctuaries, but they're tucked away for anyone (well, anyone who's confortable on skis at least) to discover, and even contribute to. The shrines have even spread from Aspen to nearby Snowmass.

There's debate over whether the Elvis shrine or the Jerry Garcia shrine was erected first--some believe that the Garcia shrine was the original, and that the Elvis shrine began when someone placed an "Elvis Presley Boulevard" sign in the trees to help them find their way back to the lifts, while others point to the fact that the Jerry Garcia memorial was started in 1995-1996, and no one is sure when the Elvis shrine was built. Debate aside, there's no denying that these shrines are a huge part of Aspen ski culture.

One of the easiest shrines to find is the memorial to 9/11-- it was made easy to spot because it's such a meaningful shrine; NYC firemen actually helped create it. Singers are popular subjects for shrines, and musicians memorialized include Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, Michael Jackson, Liberace, Jimmy Buffet and more. There, at one time or another, have been shrines dedicated to Burning Man, the movie Chaddyshack, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Hunter S. Thompson, golf, Guinness beer, Maryilyn Monroe, the New England Patriots, and more. 

Some are merely a collection of artifacts and signs, while others are more elaborate-- there are even a few that are full-on cabins hidden in the forests, plus swings, teepees, art installations, benches, even an entire hidden bedroom. They can also serve as meeting spots for groups of friends-- for instance, the Jerry Garcia shrine used to serve as a party location for local Deadheads. Some are even more mysterious-- a "Bigfoot Crossing" sign, a noose hanging from a tree, a stuffed orangutan. There are even several "panty trees", filled with skivvies and unmentionables. 

Looking for other offbeat memorials? Check out the Monument to Lady Hit by MeteoriteSalvation Mountain, the Jimi Hendrix Shrine or the odd Evel Knievel Snake River Monument​.

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