The legendary Caribou Club is an Aspen landmark with a rich history in Colorado’s most famous ski town. The elegant restaurant and club would never have come to fruition if not for one man, Harley Baldwin. Harley was a classic mountain town character. He rolled into town in 1968 with only $1,200 in his pocket and big dreams in his head. Through ingenuity and perseverance, not to mention a captivating personality, he became a major player in the burgeoning resort town. He bought several properties in Aspen including the 1892 Collins Building, which was in disrepair. Harley renovated the retail units on the ground floor, refashioned the 6,000-square-foot warren of rooms into a private residence upstairs, and built the basement by propping up the entire structure and installing the exotic Caribou Club in the new space. The Club opened in 1990 and became a secret getaway for movie stars, musicians, artists, business leaders, and an array of hard-partying, life-loving locals.
Harley was a mainstay of the Club scene, and together with his right-hand man, Billy Stolz, he helped build it into one of the most sought-after venues in town. Sadly, Harley Baldwin passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on in many Aspen establishments. He once said in an interview that 25% of his time went to non-profits. He promoted the arts, music, museums, and community projects by donating his time and money, and by sitting on the boards of several prominent organizations. Harley was also extremely passionate about protecting our surrounding landscape. In 2000, he donated his interest in the 10-acre Little Maud Claim which included the ever-popular observation deck. This donation helped create the Smuggler Mountain Open Space and he is recognized as a key figure in the official management plan.
During the same time period that Harley was building businesses in Aspen, Wilderness Workshop was tirelessly working to designate the Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Hunter-Frying Pan, Collegiate Peaks, and Raggeds Wilderness areas, as well as pursuing other historic conservation projects. As the Workshop matured from an all-volunteer “kitchen table” group to a professional organization of full-time staff, its fundraising needs grew. In 2016, through personal friendships between the Caribou Club and Wilderness Workshop, the two joined forces to host Wild Feast, an annual gala to support public lands. This year, June 26 will mark the third annual celebration with the theme of conservation, diversity, and inclusivity on public lands. We hope this warm gesture by Billy Stolz and Harley’s former partner, Richard Edwards, will successfully honor Harley Baldwin’s passion for conserving our treasured wild lands at the Caribou Club.