Originally inhabited by the Ute Indians, homesteaders with mining claims began settling in Basalt when coal was discovered in the area. The former railroad town was known as Aspen Junction until 1895 when the name was changed to Basalt. The name “Basalt” is an homage to the basaltic rock formation of the mountain just north of Basalt (formerly called Black Mountain).
Basalt originally sat on the south side of the Frying Pan River, near the infamous charcoal kilns, which can still be viewed across the river from the Elk Run neighborhood. The development of the Colorado Midland Railroad established a new townsite for Basalt in 1887. This railroad was the first standard guage railroad built over the Continental Divide, and it ran from Colorado Springs to Leadville, through the Hagerman Tunnel (which is an excellent 4-wheel drive route in the summer), past Basalt, and down through Glenwood Springs and to Grand Junction.
Basalt was officially incorporated in 1901, and since then has seen many changes, but the Victorian era brick buildings and small mountain town charm have remained the same after all these years. Basalt now has roughly 4,000 year-round residents, and the vibrant 1.9 square mile core is comprised of yoga and fitness studios, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and cafes, architecture firms, outdoor stores, a library, and more. The Rio Grande path, which follows the former railroad route, is a smooth paved path that takes people on bike and foot up to Aspen and down all the way to Glenwood Springs. Recreational opportunities abound, including some of the best mountain biking and hiking trails around, world-class golf, fishing with the best bass lures, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding.