February 11, 2004
This managed fishing access on the Roaring Fork River offers some superb habitat in a pristine setting. The historic ranch, home to a large herd of elk and deer, is privately owned, but an arrangement has been made that opens it to anglers. Five free permits are allowed each day; pick one up at the Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt (927-4374). The shop will give you directions to the best parking spots along Highway 82 or on River Road.
At the Old Snowmass Conoco, turn onto River Road and follow the trail signs to a small parking lot. Walk down the trail a few hundred feet, past the utility building and off to the left, and follow the signs down the rustic trail down through sagebrush to the Roaring Fork River. There are some tranquil pools in the river here. A fairly quiet spot, away from highway noises, it’s the only Roaring Fork access from the Basalt/Old Snowmass trail.
This 18-hole private golf course has improved life for fishermen not only by cleaning up the river, restoring it to its natural path, and revegetating its banks, but by providing convenient parking spaces for anglers. Go to the club’s new administration building (the log building along Highway 82 just upvalley from Basalt); look for parking signs. Fishermen have access to the one-mile stretch that’s owned by the club (15 feet from the river’s edge). Access is for catch-and-release trout fishing only, and isn’t meant for the new spring creek which meanders alongside the river. That’s private and for club members only.
Fisherman Park Perhaps not the greatest fishing, but it’s walking distance from downtown Basalt on Two Rivers Road, across from Elk Run. Recent work has really spruced this park up Ñ adding bathrooms, picnic tables, and many new trees. Also a great put-in spot for noncommercial rafters and kayakers.
A secret little trail into a secret little park. Basalt doesn’t really have a name for this 11-acre riverfront park. Most people just call it the River Park. This is a great escape into dense cottonwoods and willows. To reach it, go to the rear of the vacant lot that’s across from the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park near the main Basalt intersection. Go down the steep slope and some wood boards will help you across a small pond without getting your feet too wet. From there a river-rock-lined path meanders through some cottonwoods and emerges onto a river island. You actually cross a river beach Ñ with sand just like any other beach. From there, the trail leads into a thicket of willows and gets you close to the river. There are plenty of fallen trees around at the river’s edge. It’s wonderful fishing access, just feet from town but in another world.
Two Rivers Road–old Highway 82 offers great Roaring Fork River access. The road, which runs alongside the river, is owned by the state (it used to be the old highway), and most of the little pull-off areas are fair game for parking. Basalt officials are thinking about taking over this road from the state. The vision is to close a portion of it to create a riverfront park.
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For fly-fishers, the “Pan” has been a national shrine for almost a century. Fryingpan Road runs along the river for much of its course, and runs through many stretches of public lands with many easy pull-offs, so access is plentiful up and down this spectacular red sandstone valley. Locals often avoid the upper waters and spread out down the rest of the river, where good populations of 12-inch to 17-inch rainbows and browns co-exist. Be watchful for private ownership and no-trespassing signs. Fishing is by permission only from mile 5 to 5.4 along the river. Anglers should also ask local fishing shops about extra water releases from Ruedi Reservoir that might impact streamflows and make fishing difficult.
Created by the Bureau of Reclamation in the 1960s, Ruedi Reservoir has improved the fishery below the dam by regulating streamflow and creating a gravel area that provides spawning beds for brown trout. Expect to see not only rainbows, browns and lake trout in the reservoir but also Kokanee salmon. There is lots camping, a public boat ramp and walk-in access here. The Fryingpan Valley is also the gateway to myriad small mountain lakes in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness and surrounding forests. Check with the Sopris Ranger District for maps and details.
A small lake surrounded by marshlands with nesting waterfowl that’s close to downtown Basalt. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout. This Division of Wildlife land, also home to the Lake Christine shooting range, is located off Homestead Avenue, one street up the hill from downtown’s Midland Avenue. Take Homestead Road for about a half-mile. The entrance is on the right. No dogs are allowed near the lake.
Downtown Basalt There’s an amazing amount of public fishing access in and around the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. Some sites may be “prettier” than others, but here’s the lowdown on where you can go: On the bank of the Fryingpan where it meets the Roaring Fork (the downtown side); on the bank of the Roaring Fork just downstream from the confluence (downtown side); on the Fryingpan behind the Rainbow Grill restaurant complex and upstream through what’s now a vacant lot (the future Riverwalk project); most of the other bank across the Fryingpan from the Rainbow Grill, from Two Rivers Road up to the Swinging Bridge Lane; and off the public trail by the new Ute Center condos at the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork.
Hooks Bridge Located off Willits Lane just past the Midvalley Design Center, Hooks Bridge is off to the left. The small community of Hooks contains a boat ramp, a river easement and a bridge crossing the river near the railroad tracks. Fishing access is from the bridge upstream for a quarter-mile on the north bank.
The 128-acre Mt. Sopris Tree Farm in El Jebel borders the Roaring Fork River. It’s owned by Eagle County, and will be developed with active and passive recreation in the near future. For now, it offers great fishing access in a relatively rural setting, given its proximity. Turn at the El Jebel intersection of Highway 82 and Valley Road. This fishing spot is accessed off Valley Road, about 1.5 miles upstream on the north side of the river. Parking is available on the western end of the access.