(Roaring Fork Valley, Colo.) May 11, 2023 —The deep roots of the Roaring Fork Valley's agricultural history and local food culture come to life as the five tourism organizations—Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Snowmass Tourism, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Tourism, and Visit Glenwood Springs — unveil a new visitor guide designed to give tourists a greater connection to the food on their plate and the local terroir through farms and ranch experiences. The Roaring Fork & Farm Map is a printed pocket guide to the Valley's experiences that include guest ranches, public gardens and visitor-ready farms, visitor attractions, along with specific restaurants, food outlets, and producers that were identified as "local food champions" for their noted efforts and relationships that support local and regional Colorado farmers through menu items and culinary offerings. The guide will be unveiled and available to the public at Carbondale's annual Dandelion Day, on Saturday, May 13, 2023, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., in Sopris Park, Carbondale.
The visitor guide, illustrated by local artist Sarah Uhl, is designed to inspire visitors to each destination and locals to explore the wider Roaring Fork Valley, starting with the heritage of each destination's food history which is introduced in the guide:
Aspen's high elevation and history as a bustling mining-town turned-ski-and-cultural resort have made it a more dining-out destination than ag-hub. The sky's the limit here with creative uses of local food — from one of the valley's original adopters of farm-to-table dining, The Little Nell hotel, to award-winning chef Barclay Dodge at Bosq.
Until the late 1960s, the rolling slopes surrounding Snowmass Village were dotted with sheep and cattle. Farms and ranches supplied Aspen's food in the mining era and the buildings for the Anderson Ranch Arts Center campus. Snowmass' agricultural and local food traditions continue today through pastoral landscapes, authentic dining options, and food-centered special events.
Basalt sprung to life as a railroad hub, with trains from Denver and Leadville stopping to load and unload food and passengers before continuing to other local stops. Gold Medal trout waters became the draw for this town at the junction of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan Rivers, which is also now home to innovative farmers including the world-renowned Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute and Rock Bottom Ranch.
Thanks to its rich soil, the valley was once a growing region for potatoes — and Carbondale was the epicenter. Spuds continue to be celebrated at Carbondale's Potato Day (in its 114th year in 2023,) and the local McClure Red is in Slow Food's "Ark of Taste" heritage food catalog. Beyond potatoes, ranchers still run cattle through downtown en route to and from forest pastures and supply beef to many local eateries.
For Colorado's Native American Utes, the Glenwood Springs area was prime hunting grounds. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft were two prominent visitors that enjoyed the fruits of the town's land and waters — including strawberries, after which the town's 126-year-old annual Strawberry Days civic celebration of regional food was named. Nowadays, the largest town in the Roaring Fork Valley offers a variety of recreational experiences and equally broad options for local dining and drinking, such as The Pullman and Casey Brewing.
The visitor guide then highlights different categories of farm or local food-related businesses or organizations, including events and farmer's markets, located on a map for each of the five destinations, including:
Local Food Champions: a range of food producers, retailers and dining options that emphasize local flavors and support local farmers including Silo a true farm-to-table breakfast and lunch menu demonstrating chef Lacy Hughes' sourcing philosophy supporting local farmers, Free Range Kitchen which sources organic and responsibly farmed ingredients, Meat & Cheese Restaurant which also features a farm shop selling local and regional produce, IIll Porcelino makes bresaola, mortadella and salamis using local and regional ingredients including Woody Creek Distillers apple brandy and Carboy Malbec. Roaring Fork Coop has long been an outpost for local farmers to sell their meats and eggs and during summer offers a farm stand, Mawita, a Latin Inspired Restaurant and Bar uses locally sourced, organic ingredients for its menu.
Spirit and Brews: highlights of the Roaring Fork Valley's unique locally-produced beverage scene including the renowned Marble Distilling Company, the most sustainable distillery on the planet, a pioneering zero-waste distillery offering tasting room and luxury lodging, Casey Brewing and Blending, using old-world brewing techniques with 99% Colorado-sourced ingredients, and Woody Creek Distillers famed for their locally-grown potato vodka and 100% Colorado rye whiskey.
Events: Throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, local food and farming culture is celebrated at events including Food and Wine Classic Aspen, Heritage Fire in Snowmass, Dandelion Day in Carbondale, Snowmass Rodeo, Carbondale's Wild West Rodeo, farm-to-table dinners at Rock Bottom Ranch, and Glenwood Springs Holiday Bazaar is a showcase for local food artisans.
Farms + Ranches with Visitor Experiences: The starting point for any Roaring Fork Valley visitor is Carbondale's Thompson House Museum, an 1885 historic house museum owned for 100 years by the descendants of pioneer Myron Thompson. Other ranches with visitor attractions include T-Lazy-7 Ranch with guided horseback riding and fly fishing offerings, The Farm Collaborative which offers classes and workshops, camps, and tours, and other ranches that open their barn doors for weddings and events such as Happy Day Ranch and Spring Creeks Ranch.
Food Producing (private) Farms + Ranches: While some of the working farms are closed to visitors, it is possible to seek out produce and local flavor at the farmer's markets and on the tables of many local restaurants that work with the farm and ranch community: those feeding the Roaring Fork Valley include: local ranchers Nieslanik Beef Farms and Potter Farms, regenerative farmers, Seed Peace, Shining Mountain Farms, Moon Sprouts, Dooley Creek Farm, Lazy K Beef, Mesa Microgreens, and Emmadale Farm. The guide requests that visitors respect private property as some farms, indicated, are not open to the public.
The Roaring Fork + Farm Map is designed as a printed guide and will be available through the 10 Colorado Welcome Centers located across the state and within the visitor centers in Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. Many local lodges and hotels, restaurants, and small businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley will also display the guide.
The visitor guide was part of a broader tourism development project which also included a food and Agritourism educational workshop for local food and farm businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley, supported by funding from the Colorado Tourism Office Tourism Management Grant.
Globe Newswire \ May 11, 2023