Description - The Carbondale area includes the Crystal River Valley and portions of the lower Roaring Fork River Valley, south of Glenwood Springs. The area is approximately 175 miles west of Denver. Colorado Highways 82 and 133 intersect at Carbondale.
Copyright: Tom Kuekes-USDA Forest Service
An early fall snow provides striking contrast to the golden aspen leaves on Mt. Sopris.
- Carbondale is nestled beneath towering Mt. Sopris (12,953 feet) at the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers. The area includes the mid Roaring Fork Valley, the Crystal River Valley, a portion of the Elk Mountains and Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers are home to world-class fly fishing. The area offers an array of other outdoor recreational opportunities, many of which are found on the White River National Forest information page.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities in the Carbondale Area include cross-country skiing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.
The Forest Service administers most area campgrounds which have varying levels of service and facilities. Backcountry and dispersed camping opportunities also exist in the Carbondale area. When camping outside of designated campgrounds, be sure to follow the backcountry and dispersed camping regulations, and Leave No Trace principles to ensure the next visitor an equal experience.
The Elk Mountains provide opportunities for hunting, rock climbing, hiking, camping, biking and scenic drives to historic town sites like Redstone, Marble, and Gothic.
Popular winter recreation activities include cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Climate - Elevations range from 6,100 feet around the town of Carbondale, to over 14,000 ft in the Elk Mountains. Vegetation includes piñon and juniper forests; hay meadows and sagebrush at lower elevations; aspen and lodgepole pine at intermediate elevations; Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir forests above about 10,000 feet; and alpine tundra at the highest elevations.
In the valley bottoms, summer high temperatures extend into the mid 80s, with cool evenings that can often dip into the 30s. Winter lows occasionally dip to minus 30 degrees, though daytime temperatures are often in the 20s to 30s. The relative humidity is quite low throughout the year. Most of the area and its recreation facilities lie at higher elevations where significantly lower temperatures and more precipitation can be expected. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are common. Snow is possible at any time of year in the highest elevations. The high elevation roads and trails are often not clear of snow until mid-July.
Carbondale sits in the Roaring Fork Valley, between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. It is located about 170 miles west of Denver at the junction of State Highways 82 and 133. The Crystal River and Roaring Fork River intersect immediately northwest of town. Carbondale is surrounded by the White River National Forest.