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Retirement Living In Roaring Fork Valley - Colorado

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Area Description

The lower Roaring Fork Valley is so-named because of the Roaring Fork River, which runs through the communities of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt and El Jebel. Aspen, CO is our famous neighbor at the upper end of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Known worldwide for fantastic scenery, skiing, a lively cultural scene and celebrity clientele, Aspen is a source of recreation, dining and entertainment.
Aspen is a city in and the county seat of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States.It is situated in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains' Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains, along the Roaring Fork River at an elevation just below 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level on the Western Slope, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Continental Divide.
Founded as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom and later named "Aspen" because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city boomed during the 1880s, its first decade of existence. That early era ended when the Panic of 1893 led to a collapse in the silver market, and the city began a half-century known as "the quiet years" during which its population steadily declined, reaching a nadir of less than a thousand by 1930. Aspen's fortunes reversed in the mid-20th century when neighboring Aspen Mountain was developed into a ski resort, and industrialist Walter Paepcke bought many properties in the city and redeveloped them. Today it is home to three renowned institutions, two of which Paepcke helped found, that have international importance: the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Center for Physics.[3]

In the late 20th century, the city became a popular retreat for celebrities. Singer John Denver wrote two songs about Aspen after settling there. Both of them popularized Aspen among the countercultural youth of the 1970s as an ideal place to live, and the city continued to grow.

Today the musicians and movie stars have been joined by corporate executives. Rising real estate prices have driven development "down valley" to neighboring communities in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Glenwood Springs:
At the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers, the historic resort town of Glenwood Springs is the largest of the four communities and famed for the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Canyon, Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves and Sunlight Mountain Resort.

Here you can tour underground caverns, pedal miles of riverfront trails, paddle the whitewater, sample local produce, shop in unique boutiques, dine at fabulous restaurants or focus on relaxation. Home to the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world, Glenwood Springs has a deep-rooted heritage in the hospitality business. Visionaries of the late 1800s built an internationally known hot springs resort. Travelers from around the globe soaked in the thermal waters, stayed in a luxurious hotels and explored the wonders of subterranean caves.

Today these attractions still draw over two million visitors each year. Each season offers something unique. The warm summer months provide endless opportunities to raft, kayak, hike, and bike. Winter snows attract skiers, riders, snowshoers and ice skaters. Swimming and cave exploration are year-round activities.

Touted as one of the “Top 12 Towns" in the "50 Next Great Places to Live and Play" by National Geographic Adventure magazine, Carbondale is a great base camp for recreation enthusiasts. Resting in the magnificent shadow of 12,953-foot Mt. Sopris, there is plenty to do, including biking, hiking, gold medal fly-fishing, kayaking, and world class skateboarding. In winter, excellent cross-country skiing can be found at Spring Gulch and beautiful snowmobiling and snowshoeing trails are accessible in all directions.

El Jebel:

The community is located in the Roaring Fork Valley, between Carbondale and Basalt, along the north side of State Highway 82. The community grew rapidly in the last two decades of the 20th century with the population increase in the valley downstream from Aspen. It consists largely of a group of commercial establishments just off State Highway 82, as well as several housing subdivisions nearby.

The town was named for the basaltic rock formation on Basalt Mountain, and began as railroad town. It was incorporated in 1901. Located at the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork Rivers, Basalt is well known for its Gold Medal trout fishing in the Frying Pan River. Ruedi Reservoir is also a popular regional destination for boating and other watersports. Basalt is also a hub for mountain biking in the Roaring Fork valley. There are a dozen world class cross country trails as well as lift-accessed downhilling within 15 miles of Basalt, both up and down the valley.

Includes Cities/Towns: Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs.

Region Characteristics

Area Amenities

Things to Do, Recreation & Fitness

   This region features a vast array of arts, culture, caverns, biking, hiking, boating, a World Class Whitewater Activity Area, paragliding, Gold Medal fishing, dozens of golf courses, camping, horseback riding, skiing and winter sports, hunting, museums, history, fine dining, film, arts and cultural festivals. Located in the heart of the White River National Forest.

Cultural Activities

The region was named #1 in Arts Vibrancy in the United States. The rich professional cultural scene in Aspen is shared valley-wide as the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Aspen Film Festival have down-valley enterprises and performances. Community theatre and Symphony of the Valley are popular, and the communities of Glenwood Springs and Carbondale have active Arts Councils that foster visual art as well as dance and music. A professional Vaudeville Revue performs in Glenwood Springs, and there is a rich gallery scene throughout the Valley. Weekly concert series and live music can be found every night of the summer and most weekend nights year-round. Locally-grown artists have gone on to national recognition.

Public transportation

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has been in operation since 1983, and functions as a Regional Transportation Authority. The RTA includes the communities of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Pitkin County, Basalt, a portion of Eagle County, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. RFTA provides commuter bus service from Aspen to Glenwood Springs (Roaring Fork Valley); Glenwood to Rifle (Hogback); intra city service in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, ski shuttle service to the four Aspen Skiing Company ski areas, Maroon Bells Guided Bus Tours, and a variety of other seasonal services. In 1996, RFTA was named the "Best Mass Transit System of North America" by Mass Transit Magazine. In 2003 RFTA was awarded three of the top honors by the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) including the award for "Large Transit Agency of the Year." In 2006 they were once again honored as the "Large Transit Agency of the Year."

In 2008 they earned a national Innovation Award for Bike Express buses. Also on October 1, 2008 the Rio Grande Trail was awarded the Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative Award during the 2008 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference.

In 2009 RFTA won best "Large Transit Agency," and the CEO won "Best Transit Administrator" from CASTA. He once again captured the "Best Transit Administrator" in 2011.

Another wonderful award that RFTA's Finance Department has won from 2007 through 2012 the "Distinguished Budget Presentation Award." This is the only national award for governmental budgeting. According to the Government Finance Officers Association this award "reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting." Recipients "provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America."

2012 has been a banner year for other honors as well with the "Best Large Transit Agency" award from CASTA. RFTA had the pleasure of the head of the Federal Transit Administration, Peter Rogoff out for our VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) ground breaking. U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood also came to see progress on construction of the first rural BRT system, VelociRFTA. He had this to say about RFTA, "You’re a model for cooperation. You’re a model for putting your friends and neighbors to work. You’re a model for implementing the first rural BRT project in the country. So I came here to say congratulations to all of you.”

Lastly RFTA was recognized by Washington, DC as a White House Champions of Change Transportation Innovator.
RFTA currently operates a fleet of over 82 vehicles and carries about 4.5 million passengers annually. They manage the Rio Grande Trail which goes from Glenwood to Aspen, and serve 10 communities and three counties with transit.

Medical Facilities

Valley View Hospital and Aspen Valley Hospital are renowned medical centers. A cancer center, heart and vascular center and acclaimed therapies and services offer big city hospital amenities in small communities where the physician is well-acquainted with the patient.

What Will The Climate And Weather Be Like If I Retire In Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado?

Glenwood Springs, CO, gets 21 inches of rain per year. The US average is 37. Snowfall is 51 inches. The average US city gets 25 inches of snow per year. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 106.

On average, there are 239 sunny days per year in Glenwood Springs, CO. The July high is around 86 degrees. The January low is 3. Our comfort index, which is based on humidity during the hot months, is a 75 out of 100, where higher is more comfortable. The US average on the comfort index is 44.

Temperatures and snowfall increase as you head up-valley. Aspen has humid continental climate owing to its high altitude and is generally 10 degrees cooler than Glenwood Springs, with higher amounts of snowfall.

Monthly Temperature Ranges

 Month  Low  Avg  High
 Jan  11  23  35
 Feb  17  28  40
 Mar  25  37  50
 Apr  31  45  58
 May  38  54  69
 Jun  45  62  80
 Jul  52  69  86
 Aug  51  67  83
 Sep  42  58  75
 Oct  32  47  62
 Nov  22  34  46
 Dec  13  24  35

Monthly Average # of Hot and Cold Days

 Month  Days Greater Than 90 F°  Days Less Than 32 F°  Days Less Than 0 F°
 Jan  0  31  5
 Feb  0  27  2
 Mar  0  26  0
 Apr  0  16  0
 May  0  4  0
 Jun  3  0  0
 Jul  8  0  0
 Aug  5  0  0
 Sep  1  2  0
 Oct  0  16  0
 Nov  0  27  0
 Dec  0  30  3

Rain & Humidity

 Month  Rainfall  Rainy Days  Humidity
 Jan  1 "  8  11 %
 Feb  1 "  8  13 %
 Mar  1 "  9  16 %
 Apr  2 "  9  20 %
 May  2 "  9  26 %
 Jun  1 "  6  32 %
 Jul  1 "  8  39 %
 Aug  1 "  9  40 %
 Sep  2 "  8  33 %
 Oct  2 "  8  23 %
 Nov  1 "  8  16 %
 Dec  1 "  8  11 %


 Month  Snowfall  Snow On Ground Days  Snowy Days
 Jan  10 "  19  6
 Feb  8 "  16  5
 Mar  6 "  6  4
 Apr  3 "  2  2
 May  1 "  0  0
 Jun  0 "  0  0
 Jul  0 "  0  0
 Aug  0 "  0  0
 Sep  0 "  0  0
 Oct  2 "  1  1
 Nov  7 "  6  4
 Dec  14 "  16  7

Natural Disaster Areas

Cost of Living for Roaring Fork Valley, CO

Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado cost of living for Housing, Healthcare, Transportation, Taxes, Utilities, etc.:

Cost of Living




Political Party


Senior Housing Options

There is a VA home nearby (30 mi) in Rifle, CO. While every type of housing exists, the cost of housing is higher than the national average.

Senior Assistance in Roaring Fork Valley, CO

Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado offers the following assistance for seniors:

RSVP is the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and acts as a valuable clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities in Garfield County for seniors as well as being a catalyst for developing a new corps of executive and professional volunteers. In Garfield County High Country RSVP is an invitation for you to serve your community - to tap into your rich life experiences, skills, and talents to help meet the needs and challenges of America's communities - one county at a time, starting with your own!

We recruit, train, and place senior volunteers (55 +) in volunteer placements that utilize their skills and abilities to serve others in the community, while maintaining flexibility to decide who and how frequently you choose to serve.

High Country RSVP is partially sponsored by the Corporation for National & Community Service, a federal Senior Corps program. Our RSVP is sponsored locally by Colorado Mountain College. RSVP volunteers serve in various capacities including the coordination of VITA tax and Medicare D counseling programs, the senior nutrition program, and the senior transportation program.

RSVP members volunteer to help deliver hot nutritious meals, serve as Citizens On Patrol with the Sheriff's office, provide needed respite for caregivers, mentor Garfield County youth, and provide needed administrative services for the many nonprofits, government, and educational institutions in Garfield County. They are responsible for the creation and maintenance of specialized programs to address needs in the community and have also been important in advocating for seniors in Garfield County. Our members serve from a few hours a week, to many days per month. Members volunteer at one agency or with many at over the month. Still others prefer short-term projects that make an instant impact and then move on to the next project. High Country RSVP works to enhance the volunteer experience in Garfield County by providing:

Volunteer placement assistance
Fun social activities
Training opportunities
Supplemental, secondary insurance while volunteering
Volunteer recognition
More than 325 seniors in Garfield County are active volunteers in RSVP providing more than 95,000 volunteer hours throughout the county.

What Job or Volunteer Opportunities Does Roaring Fork Valley Offer For Retirees?

See RSVP above.

Additional Information

Visitor Information

Relocation Information

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