Basalt's Parks and Playgrounds

    by Jeanne McGovern

    Get Ready, Get Set - To Play!

    While Mother Nature has made the Roaring Fork Valley a literal outdoor playground, more than a dozen dedicated parks make Basalt the perfect playground for families and kids of all ages.

    A crown jewel of Basalt’s storied parks and playgrounds is the aptly named Crown Mountain Park. Set on a large swath of open space just beyond Orchard Plaza in El Jebel, Crown Mountain really does have it all — trails, sporting fields (think baseball, lacrosse, soccer), playground, climbing wall, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, dog park, horseshoe pits, BMX track, picnic tables and more. It is also home to dozens of community events, classes, tournaments, races and more.

    Beyond Crown Mountain, there are myriad parks and playgrounds worth exploring.

    Begin with the classic kids’ playgrounds, where kids can climb, crawl, swing and explore. In downtown Basalt, you’ll find Arbaney Park ideal  for summer as it’s situated next to the town’s outdoor pool with ample grass for pick-up soccer games and picnic tables for small gatherings. Smaller, “pocket parks” can be found scattered around Basalt’s other neighborhoods, such as Wildwood and Southside parks in Southside, as well as the parks and greenway in Willits, which bustle with toddlers on the play structures, teens on the sporting fields and everything in between.

    Of course no mention of outdoor life in Basalt would be complete without the word “water,” and there are numerous parks that cater to just this. Confluence Park and Bridge offers pedestrians the chance to soak in the river below, while benches welcome anglers for a moment off the river. Nearby, Harmony Park with its six oversized and sculpted outdoor instruments offers a free-spirited experience for children of all ages.

    Both Fisherman’s Park and Duroux Park serve as raft put-ins, with picnic tables and port-a-potties for river rats to enjoy. Up the Roaring Fork River, a whitewater park with wave features for kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders is envisioned. And if fishing is the draw, Old Pond Park allows park users to experience the riparian river corridor in a natural setting, while the pond itself is great – and safer than the swift-moving river — for kids to cast a line.

    If motion is the summer mojo, Basalt has a park for that, too: at the Gisella Fiou Skate Park, find bowls and slabs worth skateboarding, or check out the Grace-Shehi Bike Park near Basalt High School for easy-to-ride BMX tracks, ramps and other features.

    And for the artsy set, there are parks dedicated to performances, farmers markets, community gatherings and the like. In Basalt, Lions Park is the place; in Willits, it’s Triangle Park. In 2016, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce will launch the Basalt Summer Cinema Series: Movies After Dark in the downtown Lions Park.

    There are also open space parcels that beg to be explored, including the Grace-Shehi Open Space with its community garden and the recently purchased Red Ridge Ranch Open Space, where mountain biking and hiking trails are ultimately envisioned. 

    And what to do when play time winds down? Get ice cream, of course. There’s nothing more American than a drippy cone on hot summer’s day. In downtown Basalt, the best bets for satisfying a sweet tooth are Scoops on Midland Avenue or milkshakes at Cassie’s Corner Store, and in Willits Town Center, Mauka Frozen Yogurt (all natural, with all the toppings you can image), $1 cones at Willits General Store, or free cones for kids with a meal at Sure Thing Burger. 

    photo courtesy > Shayla Groves, Design Finch