Carbondale today represents the perfect overlap between yesterday and today. It’s a city that still celebrates its ranching and farming roots (hey-o!), whether it’s the commemorative festivities of Potato Day each September or the hardy farms and still active and multi-generational ranches whose names have become Valley staples, such as the Nieslaniks, Fales and Sewells. It’s just as much a creative neighborhood, certified by the state economic development board as such, that continues to expand the imagination of what the arts can do for a community’s identity. Carbondale Arts, the nonprofit behind much of the magic, turned half a century last year and is perpetually finding new ways to honor tradition with its flagship fair. of the mountain every July, which brings together locals and visitors – numbering in the tens of thousands .
Even if you’re not in the area during the Mountain Fair weekend, don’t worry: you haven’t missed the boat for some funky, off-the-beaten-path live music. Steve Standiford’s namesake BYOB venue on Fourth Street isn’t exactly a hidden gem (at least for locals), but spending an evening at Steve’s Guitars gives you both street cred and music in those neighborhoods. And depending on when you’re here, Steve also helps run the free Music in the Park series at Sopris Park. You don’t know what Sopris means? Just look up at the glorious and towering mountain jutting out on the horizon – it’s Mount Sopris.
Get to know Mount Sopris in Carbondale. There are many ways to introduce yourself. Perhaps you savor it from afar, floating down the Crystal or Fryingpan rivers in a raft. Or maybe you’re a “go big or go home” type, in which case you have two options: you can hike to Thomas Lakes, camp overnight, then aim for the bright and early morning peak. , and do the whole descent on this second day. Or, if you’re feeling really out of your depth, you can climb the 12,965-foot peak in a day’s hike. Consider it an adventure to choose from! But either way, if you go for the summit, you’ll be navigating a serious skree field, so now is not the time for flip flops.
No matter your outdoor recreation of choice, Carbondale has you covered thereafter. Penny Hot Springs is a natural spring – along Highway 133 between Carbondale and Redstone and now equipped with a port-a-potty! – where you can soak your bones. Carbondale Beer Works, Batch Provisions and Marble Distilling Co. can help you unwind with a locally concocted libation. And the food scene that has sprung up along the once grubby Main Street has something for every palate, from tastes of Phat Thai (a Western take on Thai) to Brass Anvil (upscale American) to Allegria (Italian) to Izakaya (Japanese). ). As for the afternoon, head to the waterhole that has existed since the road is dirt: the Black Nugget.
And finally, the arts. You can’t talk about Carbondale without acknowledging the vibrant arts scene the town cultivates. At the heart of the city is Thunder River Theater Co., which has gained statewide notoriety in recent years thanks to the volume of Colorado Theater Guild awards it has earned. The Launchpad – the gallery operated by Carbondale Arts – the Carbondale Clay Center and, slightly on the outskirts of town, the Powers Art Center, which houses permanent exhibitions by Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, free to the public.
So if you’re looking to broaden your horizons during your trip to Aspen, there’s plenty to see from Carbondale’s vantage point.