Basalt " the two-rivers town |

Basalt " the two-rivers town

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
As an antique wagon sits in front of the Primavera Restaurant, the colorful Main Street of Basalt stands out in the background. Saturday, Feb 26, 2005 Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox

BASALT ” Located about 20 miles downvalley from Aspen, Basalt sits at the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. With beautiful 100-year-old buildings, and new ones developing at a rapid pace, it’s amazing that Basalt still hints of its old railroad town roots.

From 1883 to 1918, the Midland Railroad brought passengers and freight to the Roaring Fork Valley through Basalt via Hagerman Pass. It’s a rocky and rugged pass, and the train ride was filled with rockslides, snowdrifts, derailments and coal shortages.

Today the dangers of yesteryear have been put to rest, replaced by a modern-day town filled with fine amenities and plenty of locals who call Basalt home. But this former mining town is more than a bedroom community for Aspen.

In the historic downtown district, fine restaurants and locally owned shops await ” perfect for a day trip from Aspen or evening outing. In the growing El Jebel area, just downvalley from Basalt on Highway 82, Willits Town Center is bringing an urban feel to the midvalley, with upscale shops and restaurants, though the planned Whole Foods at Willits has been put on hold by the currently gloomy economy. (Don’t worry, though, mainstays like El Jebowl (the valley’s only bowling alley), Stubbie’s, City Market and Movieland are still around!)

Basalt also serves as a gateway to some spectacular outdoor pursuits in the valley: gold medal trout fishing along the world-renowned Fryingpan River; hiking, camping and backcountry skiing in the serene Fryingpan Valley; and, in the summer months, sailing and boating on Ruedi Reservoir, about 10 miles west of Basalt, up the Fryingpan. Plus, Basalt is a perfect midpoint for accessing the recreational opportunities in both Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

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