Tourism groups partner on Roaring Fork pocket guide |

Tourism groups partner on Roaring Fork pocket guide

Staff report

The deep roots of the Roaring Fork Valley’s agricultural history and local food culture come to life as the five tourism organizations — Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Snowmass Tourism, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Tourism, and Visit Glenwood Springs — unveil a new visitor guide designed to give tourists a greater connection to the food on their plate and the local terroir through farms and ranch experiences.

The Roaring Fork & Farm Map is a printed pocket guide to the Valley’s experiences that include guest ranches, public gardens and visitor-ready farms, visitor attractions, along with specific restaurants, food outlets, and producers that were identified as “local food champions” for their noted efforts and relationships that support local and regional Colorado farmers through menu items and culinary offerings.

The visitor guide, illustrated by local artist Sarah Uhl, is designed to inspire visitors to each
destination and locals to explore the wider Roaring Fork Valley, starting with the heritage of each destination’s food history, which is introduced in the guide:

Aspen’s high elevation and history as a bustling mining-town turned-ski-and-cultural resort have made it a more dining-out destination than ag-hub. The sky’s the limit here with creative uses of local food — from one of the valley’s original adopters of farm-to-table dining, The Little Nell hotel, to award-winning chef Barclay Dodge at Bosq.

Until the late 1960s, the rolling slopes surrounding Snowmass Village were dotted with sheep
and cattle. Farms and ranches supplied Aspen’s food in the mining era and the buildings for the
Anderson Ranch Arts Center campus. Snowmass’ agricultural and local food traditions continue
today through pastoral landscapes, authentic dining options, and food-centered special events.

Basalt sprung to life as a railroad hub, with trains from Denver and Leadville stopping to load and unload food and passengers before continuing to other local stops. Gold Medal trout waters became the draw for this town at the junction of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan Rivers, which is also now home to innovative farmers, including the world-renowned Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute and Rock Bottom Ranch.

Thanks to its rich soil, the valley was once a growing region for potatoes — and Carbondale was
the epicenter. Spuds continue to be celebrated at Carbondale’s Potato Day (in its 114th year) and the local McClure Red is in Slow Food’s “Ark of Taste” heritage food catalog. Beyond
potatoes, ranchers still run cattle through downtown en route to and from forest pastures and
supply beef to many local eateries.

For the Utes, the Glenwood Springs area was prime hunting grounds. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft were two prominent visitors that enjoyed the fruits of the town’s land and waters — including strawberries, after which the town’s 126-year-old annual Strawberry Days civic celebration of regional food was named. Nowadays, the largest town in the Roaring Fork Valley offers a variety of recreational experiences and equally broad options for local dining and drinking, such as The Pullman and Casey Brewing.

The visitor guide then highlights different categories of farm or local food-related businesses or organizations, including events and farmer’s markets, located on a map for each of the five
destinations, including:

Local Food Champions: A range of food producers, retailers and dining options that emphasize
local flavors and support local farmers, including Silo, a farm-to-table breakfast and lunch
menu demonstrating chef Lacy Hughes’ sourcing philosophy supporting local farmers; Free
Range Kitchen, which sources organic and responsibly farmed ingredients; Meat & Cheese
Restaurant, which also features a farm shop selling local and regional produce; Il Porcelino, which makes bresaola, mortadella and salamis using local and regional ingredients, including Woody Creek Distillers apple brandy and Carboy Malbec; Roaring Fork Coop an outpost for local farmers to sell their meats and eggs and during summer offers a farm stand; Mawita, a Latin inspired restaurant and bar using locally sourced, organic ingredients for its menu.

Spirit and Brews: Highlights of the Roaring Fork Valley’s locally-produced beverage scene,
including the Marble Distilling Co., the most sustainable distillery on the planet, a
pioneering zero-waste distillery offering tasting room and luxury lodging; Casey Brewing and
Blending, using old-world brewing techniques with 99% Colorado-sourced ingredients; and
Woody Creek Distillers, famed for their locally-grown potato vodka and 100% Colorado rye

Events: Local food and farming culture is celebrated at events including Food and Wine Classic Aspen, Heritage Fire in Snowmass, Dandelion Day in Carbondale, Snowmass Rodeo, Carbondale’s Wild West Rodeo, farm-to-table dinners at Rock Bottom Ranch, and Glenwood Springs Holiday Bazaar, a showcase for local food artisans.

Farms and Ranches with Visitor Experiences: The starting point is Carbondale’s Thompson House Museum, an 1885 historic house museum owned for 100 years by the descendants of pioneer Myron Thompson. Other ranches with visitor attractions include TLazy-
7 Ranch with guided horseback riding and fly fishing offerings; The Farm Collaborative, which
offers classes and workshops, camps, and tours; and other ranches that open their barn doors
for weddings and events, such as Happy Day Ranch and Spring Creeks Ranch.

Food Producing Farms and Ranches: While some of the working farms are closed to
visitors, it is possible to seek out produce and local flavor at the farmer’s markets and on the
tables of many local restaurants that work with the farm and ranch community. Those feeding the Roaring Fork Valley include Nieslanik Beef Farms and Potter Farms, regenerative
farmers, Seed Peace, Shining Mountain Farms, Moon Sprouts, Dooley Creek Farm, Lazy K Beef,
Mesa Microgreens, and Emmadale Farm.

The visitor guide was part of a broader tourism development project that also included a food
and agritourism educational workshop for local food and farm businesses in the Roaring Fork
Valley, supported by funding from the Colorado Tourism Office Tourism Management Grant.