About Pitkin County

At a glance 

GEOGRAPHY: Covering 975 square miles, Pitkin County is located in the heart of the White River National Forest, surrounded by the spectacular peaks of the central Rocky Mountains. Pitkin County includes the communities of Aspen, Snowmass, Woody Creek, Old Snowmass, Meredith, Thomasville, Redstone and portions of the town of Basalt.

DEMOGRAPHICS: The total population of Pitkin County is 17,845 - an increase of 17% since 2000. The median age of residents is 43.4. The County is experiencing rapid increases in the population over the age of 65 with the number of persons over the age of 65 in 2045. expected to nearly double. n The median household income of  Pitkin County residents is $71,196, but the average wage per job is just $49,460 — 14% lower than the State average. Even though the County has been very prosperous over the past 40 years, there are still significant community sustainability concerns including the affordability of housing, healthcare, transportation and an aging workforce.

ECONOMY: Best known for its four world-class ski resorts — Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy with arts, cultural and recreational events providing a year-round attraction.

TRANSPORTATION: Highway 82 is the only major roadway in Pitkin County leading into and out of Aspen via I 70 at Glenwood Springs to the north and over 12,000 foot Independence Pass to the south. Public transportation is provided by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) and is easy to use throughout the valley. The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is one of the busiest in the state, behind Denver International and Colorado Springs airports.

GOVERNMENT: With the county seat in Aspen, Colorado, Pitkin County was established in 1881 and became a home rule county in 1978. That means Pitkin County has the authority to establish the organization and structure of the county government via a document known as the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter. A five-member board of county commissioners and the staff are empowered to run the county operations in accordance with the charter. The Pitkin County Home Rule Charter is available online at www.pitkincounty.com.

HISTORY: The first silver prospectors in the Roaring Fork Valley arrived in the summer of 1879, set up camp and staked claims at the foot of Aspen Mountain. Before a permanent settlement could be established, news of a nearby Indian uprising prompted Colorado’s Governor Frederick Pitkin to urge the settlers to flee back across the Continental Divide for their safety. Most of them did, and only a handful of settlers remained in the Roaring Fork Valley during the winters of 1879 and 1880. It wasn’t until 1881 that Governor Pitkin signed legislation designating the boundaries of the new county, named Aspen as the county seat and appointed the first office holders in the county. Today, the county maintains 265 miles of roads and 24 bridges. There are 32 departments ranging from the Airport, Assessor and Animal Safety to Clerk and Recorder, Community Development and Emergency Dispatch/911.