Description - It begins in the east at Independence Pass, where the headwaters of the river lie, and includes everything west to Glenwood Springs, where the Roaring Fork empties into the Colorado River. The towns of Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, and Basalt all lie within the Roaring Fork Valley.
Copyright: Tom Kuekes-USDA Forest Service
Mt. Sopris creates an amazing vista during an evening sky.
- The Roaring Fork Valley is home to some amazing places. Probably best known for the winter recreation opportunities available in Aspen and Snowmass Village. The valley is also home to the towns of Old Snowmass, Basalt, El Jebel, Redstone, Woody Creek, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. Each of these communities contributes distinct characteristics that comprise the unique atmosphere of the Roaring Fork Valley.
In addition to the communities in the valley, the backcountry terrain that comprises this drainage is phenomenal. Some of the highlights include sections of the Collegiate Peaks, Mt. Massive, Hunter-Fryingpan, Raggeds and Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness areas. The Maroon Bells Range is one of the most photographed natural landmarks in the world. The Crystal Mill on the Crystal River is photographed as the epitome of the bygone mining era in Colorado. Thousands of miles of trails, four-wheel drive roads, waterways and scenic highways exist in the region. It really is hard to beat for the recreation opportunities available in one compact area.
Recreation - During the snowy winter months, usually spanning from November through April, downhill skiing and snowboarding are easily the most popular activities in the valley. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas are world-class resorts. The smaller Sunlight ski resort, located ten miles outside of Glenwood Springs, offers some excellent terrain as well. While the downhill opportunities are the most popular, the Roaring Fork Valley also offers extensive cross-country skiing trails and varied backcountry terrain.
After the snow melts, the Roaring Fork Valley changes gear and the high country opens to the general public. A wide variety of activities including hiking, mountain biking, cycling, climbing, camping, fishing, rafting, and kayaking are available for visitors and locals to experience. The valleys namesake, the Roaring Fork River, offers excellent opportunities for fishing, rafting and kayaking. Excellent climbing can be found east of Aspen towards Independence Pass. The trail systems for biking and hiking are numerous throughout the valley.
Climate - Climate conditions in Colorado should be taken seriously throughout the state. Snow and ice are common on roads and trails from mid-October through late April. In the summer months snow is still possible but less common. Varying conditions throughout a given day can be expected throughout the year. Remember that summer days can typically have beautiful sunny mornings and short sudden thunderstorms in the afternoon. Please prepare appropriately for your outdoor experience.
The Roaring Fork Valley spans several Ranger Districts of the White River National Forest. It is located on Colorado's Western Slope west of the Continental Divide. The valley can be accessed all year on State Highway 82 traveling southwest through Glenwood Springs. During the summer months Independence Pass Road is open. It begins in Twin Lakes in the Arkansas Valley and crosses the Continental Divide into the Roaring Fork Valley.