If you’re looking for a community brimming with mountain town charm and stretches of Gold Medal (current designation) river, look no further than Basalt. Nestled along two rivers – the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork – which together provide 36 miles of prime fishing, Basalt is home to mountain whitefish, brown trout and rainbow trout, as well as Taylor Creek Fly Shop and Frying Pan Anglers to make sure you’re set up for success when you’re out there in your waders.
For calmer, deep-flowing water (say, deep enough to bring a boat in), head to Ruedi Reservoir, about 15 miles upriver from Basalt. It’s BYOP (Bring Your Own Paddleboard) – or boat or fishing gear or beer for that matter – but you’ll be grateful for the serenity once you’ve done it. Want to take a walk to get even closer to the surrounding forest? Navigate to the Savage Lakes trailhead, about three miles past Meredith. This 4 mile round trip hike starts out a little steep but quickly turns into a moderate jaunt through the evergreens, with maximum rewards along the way. Don’t be surprised to encounter snow drifts even in summer.
Crown Mountain Park is one of the top rated bike parks in the country and is only about 2 miles from downtown Basalt. Filled with dirt jumps, a BMX track and a freeride area, Crown Mountain is the hub for riders of all ages and skill levels. If you want to gain confidence, sign up for a private lesson. If you feel more comfortable as a spectator, check out the weekly BMX races on Wednesday nights.
You don’t have to be on two wheels to enjoy all that Crown Mountain Park has to offer – there are also tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, baseball and softball fields , picnic areas and a dog park. Access country club amenities without the country club prices in this community gem.
Back in town, Basalt’s restaurant scene is among the most robust in the Roaring Fork Valley. Show up on the riverside terrace at Tipsy Trout for the perfect summer vibe for lunch – assuming you can get a table at this downtown hotspot. Brick Pony is another classic. Pro tip: If you’re a beer drinker, be sure to request your drink from a chilled chalice. For early evening relaxation, Tempranillo tapas are local legend and Heather’s Savory Pies often pair a decadent meal with a side of free live music. Free Range Kitchen offers a cosmopolitan twist on comfort food mainstays, and across the highway in downtown Willits, Wienerstube and Mezzaluna transport diners to their respective countries of inspiration: Austria. and Italy.
If you’re in Willits, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better venue than The Arts Campus At Willts, known as TACAW. Consult the website, tacaw.org, for the latest on the calendar, and get ready for everything from author talks to stand-up comedy to movies to music. For the full dinner and show experience, book into Tabl, TACAW’s restaurant.
And when you visit Basalt this summer, you’ll be the first to enjoy the debut of Basalt River Park, a new recreation area along the Roaring Fork River at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Two Rivers Road. The waterfront park will also provide an event venue and mixed-use development space for restaurants and residential newcomers.
Something new is always fun, but don’t forget to appreciate the old. The historic basalt walking tour makes this easy – just follow the white painted bear paws on the sidewalk. Wherever you start (more information on basalchamber.org), this walk of less than a kilometer and adapted to dogs makes you discover 12 informative panels on the history of the city. The Western Settlement, Colorado Midland Railway, and Swinging Bridge are just a few of the highlights of this self-guided tour.
Finally, if you really want to know a place, be sure to take a stroll through the Farmers Market – and Basalt is no exception. This Sunday morning (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) summer tradition creates an opportunity for local vendors to sell products ranging from produce to jewelry. Go ahead, take home a souvenir of
your travels in the Middle Valley.