The Roaring Forkof Colorado

Basalt to Carbondale
By Al Marlowe
An angler tests his skills on the Roaring Fork near Carbondale.

In the town of Basalt the Fryingpan joins the Roaring Fork. Here the Fork becomes a major river. Even at low flows it's big. Although the gradient is lower here than it is above Basalt, the volume ofwater gives the current lots of strength. (See map).


This stretch is open for most of the year. It is a popular section with float fishermen before the runoff raises the water level too high. In the summer you will find good fly fishing here. The river can be floated again by late summer and fall. This section is often free of ice in winter due to the entry of warmer water from the Fryingpan.


The Fork's slippery rounded rocks make for hazardous wading unless you have felt soles or studs. The river is much larger here, with deep holes, some of which are too deep to wade. Chest waders are essential.


Dry flies: Adams, Blue Dun, Blue-Winged Olive, Brown Hackle Peacock, Elkhair Caddis, GingerQuill, Green Drake, Griffith Gnat, Humpy, Rio Grande King, Royal Wulff. Nymphs: Breadcrust,caddis emerger and larvae, Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear, Green Drake Emerger, Halfback, Prince, LittleYellow Stone.

Access and Parking

State Highway 82 parallels the river between Carbondale and Basalt. County roads off 82 provide access to the Fork. Basalt
Three miles of river are open from the Lower Bypass Bridge just downstream from theconfluence with Sopris Creek to the Upper Bypass Bridge east of town along State Highway 82.One and one-half miles east of El Jebel, Two Rivers Road (the old Highway 82) follows the right (north) bank of the Fork. You'll find several spots in which to park along the road on the shoulders.

Hooks Bridge
A quarter-mile of the right (north) bank is open here. Take Willets Lane south(toward the river) after passing El Jebel, then right to the bridge.

El Jebel
Go 7 miles east of Carbondale on State Highway 82 to the U.S. Forest Service treenursery at El Jebel on Valley Road.

Catherine Bridge
Catherine Bridge is south of State Highway 82 on County Road 100. Access is 30 feet from the centerline of the bridge on both sides.

Carbondale State Wildlife Area: Gianinetti Lease
At Carbondale, State Highway 133 connectswith Highway 82. On the southeast corner of the junction pull off the road into the parking area for marked access. The CDOW lease begins at the old bridge abutment and continues upstream about2,015 feet to midstream from the Highway 82 side.

Gianinetti Spring Creek
A half-mile of the Roaring Fork upstream of the Carbondale SWA, 2 miles of creek, and a small lake are open to angling for a fee. For information, contact: GianinettiRanch Spring Creeks, 601 Cowen Drive, Carbondale, CO 81623; (970) 963-0313.

© Article copyright Pruett Publishing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »