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About Basalt & Willits

Basalt is a vibrant, historic town that has maintained its charm while growing and supporting development throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. It is a popular outdoor recreation destination – especially for epic fly-fishing opportunities, boating, watersports, and mountain biking – and also home to many restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries. Today it is also home to Willits Town Center, the only sustainable, mixed-use community in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Located at the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers at an elevation of 6,611 feet, Basalt is situated between Glenwood Springs and Aspen in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, about 180 miles from Denver. Basalt is a statutory town in Eagle and Pitkin counties with a population of 3,857 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. On average, Basalt has about 240 days of sunshine, 90 inches of snow, and 16 inches of rain annually.

History of Basalt & Willits

The town of Basalt as we know it today was formed in 1901 when Fryingpan Junction, established in 1882, and Aspen Junction, established in 1885, merged.

These spots first developed as a community for men who worked at the town’s charcoal kilns in the 1880s and later housed those working on the construction of the Colorado Midland Railroad. As more coal was discovered and expanded railroad operations provided cities with other options, kiln operations stopped and the early community dwindled. The Fryingpan Kilns, recognized as one of the best examples of this industry so critical to early development of the Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado as a whole, have been designated as a Local Historic Landmark since 1993.

Later, when the railroad closed in 1919, Basalt changed, too. It shifted into a ranching community and a home for commuters as ski areas developed up-valley between the 1920s and 1960s. But since then, Basalt has become a fishing and tourism destination of its own and a strong community in its own right. Today, Willits Town Center is attracting new attention to the area as the only sustainable, mixed-use community in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Entertainment and Activities in Basalt & Willits

Basalt is a small town with big amenities. Situated at the confluence of two Gold Medal rivers, designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission as outstanding large trout destinations, fly-fishing is a popular activity for residents and visitors alike. Other water activities and mountain biking trails draw outdoor enthusiasts, and there are also abundant opportunities for art appreciators, music fans, shoppers, foodies, and families.

World-Class Fly-Fishing
Mountain Biking Trails
Basalt Recreation Department
Ruedi Reservoir
Rock Bottom Ranch
Music in the Park
Basalt Downtown Business Association
Basalt Sunday Market
Taste of Basalt
The Art Base (formerly Wylyarts Community Art Center)
Basalt Regional Library
Willits Town Center

Restaurants in Basalt & Willits

Basalt, Willits, and nearby El Jebel feature many locally owned and operated restaurants with something for every customer and budget. Here are a few examples:

165 Midland Ave.
Basalt, CO 81621

Cafe Bernard
200 Midland Ave.
Basalt, CO 81621

Heather’s Savory Pies & Tapas Bar
166 Midland Ave.
Basalt, CO 81621

Cocina Del Valle
305 Gold Rivers Ct., #150
Basalt, CO 81621

Smoke Modern Barbeque
241 Harris St.
Basalt, CO 81621
Two Rivers Cafe
156 Midland Ave.
Basalt, CO 81621

Downvalley Tavern
68 El Jebel Rd.
El Jebel, CO 81623

Art Galleries in Basalt & Willits

Creativity permeates Basalt, and there’s an eclectic mix of local artists, gallery curators, and art appreciators who embody that artistic spirit and energy.

The Art Base (formerly Wylyarts Community Art Center)
99 Midland Spur
Basalt, CO 81621

Ann Korologos Gallery
211 Midland Ave
Basalt, CO 81621

Keating Fine Art
842 East Valley Road
Basalt, CO 81621

Toklat Gallery
255 Gold Rivers Ct #150
Basalt, CO 81621

Tania Dibbs Gallery
227 Midland Ave. #17A
Basalt, CO 81621

Schools in Basalt

Basalt is part of the Roaring Fork School District, and there are local options for every age level.

Basalt Elementary School
151 Cottonwood Dr.
Basalt, CO 81621

Basalt Middle School
51 School St.
Basalt, CO 81621

Basalt High School
600 Southside Dr.
Basalt, CO 81621