Where Aspen is the glitzy ski resort town people from the world over flock to, Basalt is homey, sophisticatedly low-key, and incredibly local. The town only has around 4,000 residents, and most people know each other. In Basalt’s downtown core, the chatter is lively, with conversations covering just about everything under the sun. One topic, however, is always talked about: Basalt’s immaculate mountain wilderness, all thanks to its location in the Roaring Fork Valley.

On the map, Basalt takes an interesting shape that follows a section of Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. On its two ends are developed urban centers, connected together by Two Rivers Road. Downtown Basalt sits on the southeastern end, right where Fryingpan and Roaring Fork meet. Willits, Basalt’s newer neighborhood, is on the west end. All the while, the Sopris and Basalt mountains tower on either side of the town, blessing locals and tourists alike with grand vistas throughout the year and excellent cross-country skiing in the winter.

Basalt’s deep connection with nature is reflected in the local housing market. Instead of standing out against the mountainous backdrop, luxury properties in town blend well with their surroundings through earth tones, use of natural materials, and landscaping. Closer to town are detached and attached single-family homes in classic American Western architecture.

Gold-standard Fishing

Basalt, being located right at the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers, is a dream come true for fishing enthusiasts looking for record-breaking trout. That is because both rivers are official Gold Medal waters, designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission. Whether you’re a beginner or a tried-and-tested angler, there are plenty of large trout here especially during the summer.

Exciting Whitewater

Roaring Fork River offers a different kind of adrenaline rush. This comes in the form of rapids in wide-ranging difficulties along different sections of the river. Gentler rides flow from Basalt to Carbondale, while more advanced rapids can be found between Basalt and Aspen. The best time to go whitewater rafting in Basalt is during the height of summer, but late spring and early fall are alternatives for those who want to avoid the crowd.

Slow Cooking

Residents and visitors gather at Basalt’s local restaurants to review the day’s activities and plan their next outings over good wine and organic food. Popular gathering spots, mostly in Downtown Basalt, include Heather’s Savory Pies, known for their pot pies; Free Range Kitchen, which serves a seasonal menu alongside regional craft beer; Mod’s Thai House, a casual eatery that melds Thai flavors with Colorado produce; and Cafe Bernard, which serves French-American favorites all day, seven days a week. Over at Willits, several new restaurants have also popped up, such as Sure Thing Burger and Wienerstube, which brings authentic and traditional German-Austrian food to the Rockies. 

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