In the winter months, Colorado residents and tourists flock to the state’s world-class ski resorts on the weekends—battling traffic and paying higher hotel rates for in-demand lodging on the doorstep of any operating ski lift. But just beyond the pristine mountains of Vail and Breckenridge, and before the powder puff ski runs of Aspen and Crested Butte, lies the small town of Basalt, Colorado—an often overlooked winter destination perfect for a temporary escape from daily life.
Situated between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Basalt boasts a population of just under 4,000 people. Founded in 1901, the quaint town was was originally a stop on the Colorado Midland Railroad which carried coal and silver ore between Aspen and Leadville. Its prime location in the Roaring Fork Valley at the confluence of the Frying Pan River and the Roaring Fork, two Gold Medal fishing rivers, has made it a longtime destination for fisherman, kayakers, and whitewater rafters who flock to the area in the warmer months. But Basalt is also an excellent place to visit in the winter, too. Learn more about local winter activities and the places that give this small town its charm.
If skiing or snowboarding is a must on your weekend getaway, Basalt is only a twenty-five minute drive from the Aspen Snowmass ski resorts. Busses run on a daily basis connecting Basalt with the famed nearby ski runs. If hiking is more your speed, hit the Basalt Mountain Trail. The 3.5-mile trail is located just outside of town and rated difficult. If you’re looking for something a little less strenuous, take a walk along the Rio Grand Trail. The Rio Grand Trail consists of 42 miles of paved trail that connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen, passing right through Basalt. If you really want to get outside and explore the landscape in the area, consider cross-country skiing or snowshoeing out for a night’s stay at the Harry Gates Hut. Part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, the Harry Gates Hut is located in the Sawatch Mountain foothills near Basalt. The hut is available for rental year-round.
If your idea of a weekend getaway does not include staying in a hut at an elevation of 9,700 feet, there are other options. And they’re affordable and conveniently located along the downtown drag. Originally constructed in the 1950s, the Basalt Mountain Inn recently completed a series of renovations that add a modern twist to the the hotel’s historic charm. Rates start at $79 per night and the hotel also offers a lodging package that includes discounts on Aspen Snowmass lift tickets. With nightly December rates under $100, the Aspenalt Lodge is also a great option for some in-town lodging. Located on the banks of the Frying Pan River, the Aspenalt has all of the amenities needed when staying in an outdoor paradise like the Roaring Fork Valley. A place to rest your head, free wifi, clean rooms, and complimentary breakfast which is all you really need when your weekend getaway takes place in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
Start your day off in Basalt with a cup of coffee and some breakfast at Saxy’s Cafe. Grab a breakfast sandwich for $5.95 or a pastry to fuel up for the day. Quench your thirst after a day of playing outdoors with some cold beers and snacks at the Brick Pony Pub. Rehydrate with a 20 oz. goblet of beer which the pub serves for the price of pint as a daily special. The Brick Pony Pub also serves a variety of classic pub food, which is just what you need after playing outside all day. Basalt is also home to the Woody Creek Distillers, whose distillery and taproom are located about a ten-minute drive from old town Basalt. The tasting room is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m.