Looking East, West, North and South
Choose Your Adventure
By Cameron M. Burns
Basalt is one of those rare mountain towns where you can go out the door in any direction and find adventure, in both summer and winter.
Sitting at the confluence of two well-loved Gold Medal streams, Basalt also is nestled between several distinct mountain chains whose topography adds to the range of activities and scenery available to visitors.
To the north is Basalt Mountain, a great lava expanse and perhaps one of the lesser-known places for summer and winter adventure. It’s not exactly easy to get to, but on its slopes you’ll find hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, four-wheeling and some of the best mountain biking in Western Colorado.
The mighty Elk Mountains are south of town, and a lot closer than most visitors realize. Two of Colorado’s majestic 14,000-foot peaks (Capitol Peak and Snowmass Mountain) are best accessed from Basalt, and the three other Elk Mountain Range “fourteeners” (Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells) are just a short drive to the Castle Creek turn-off near Aspen.
West of town, the valley’s dizzying array of trails comes together, the Rio Grande Trail offering a wonderful 12-mile cycle from Basalt to Carbondale or uphill to Aspen. There also are several other trails that splinter off, like the Basalt to Holland Hills Trail, which takes the walker or rider along the north side of the valley and eventually joins the Rio Grande Trail.
East of Basalt is the vast, sprawling Fryingpan Valley, and every manner of adventure can be had there, from rock climbing to backcountry skiing to camping and fishing —even ice fishing.
And right in town? Well, as the book suggests, a river runs through it, and every type of water sport can be had on the sun-sparkled waters of the Roaring Fork River. For me, there’s nothing like a float from Fisherman’s Park in Basalt to the Catherine Bridge near Carbondale.