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Carbondale, Colorado: Casual colorful living

Friendly neighbors in Carbondale
Friendly neighbors in Carbondale
copyright Tamara Pester 2014

Looking for a quick weekend getaway, but bored of the scene in Vail or Breckenridge and don't feel like driving all the way to Aspen? Check out Carbondale, a hidden gem nestled between beautiful mountains and the Roaring Fork River. The picturesque town sits 170 miles west of Denver, 12 miles from Glenwood Springs, and 30 miles from Aspen. At an altitude of 6,181 feet, and resting in the magnificent shadow of 12,953-foot Mount Sopris, Carbondale enjoys an average of 295 days of sunshine, low humidity, cold but mild winters and comfortable summers.

Many people who live or vacation in Carbondale enjoy the laid-back vibe. Its main street boasts a Phat Thai; a gourmet restaurant called (appropriately, for Main Street), Town; places featuring pizza, Mexican, and upscale bar food; cute stores and coffee shops, and more. The town is generally dog-friendly, so bring your best friend. Outdoor opportunities also abound. Right at the intersection of Highway 82 and 133, The Red Hill Recreation Area/ Mushroom Rock outlook is a local's favorite for a quick hike with the dog, or a challenging mountain bike trail system, providing a great hike and a great view of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers. Glenwood Springs' many trails and the roads near Crystal River Ranch also provide opportunities for recreation.

Lodging options range from a Days Inn to private home rentals, and everything in between. Some lovely gated communities feature either golf course or river access or both. In short, Carbondale boasts the best of both worlds: sophisticated dining, perfect weather, and a comfortable, easy atmosphere.