The Rio Grande Recreation Trail

The Rio Grande Recreation Trail is a Rails-to-Trails type of project. The trail connects Aspen to Glenwood Springs, 39.5 miles, using the old railroad corridor. Sections of the trail follow the Roaring Fork River. This trail offers options for all lengths of rides. Since it follows the old railroad corridor, the uphill climb (heading south, towards Carbondale, Basalt, and Aspen) is a gentle climb.

Trail Highlights

You can ride all the way to Aspen, or ride south as far or as long as you like and then turn around. The views of Mt. Sopris are spectacular and you pass many local landmarks.

Going out from Glenwood, you will go along the Roaring Fork and then continue along the old railroad bed where you will see horse pastures, the Aspen Glen golf course, and more views of the river and the old Satank bridge.

The trail takes you through downtown Carbondale where you can plan a lunch stop at one of the many sidewalk cafes or restaurants. Stroll the nearby galleries or eclectic boutiques.

Going further south along the trail you will come to Rock Bottom Ranch. Rock Bottom Ranch is a great stop along the trail. It is a 115-acre wildlife preserve and educational ranch, part of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Its acreage includes wetlands, spring-fed ponds, a section of the Roaring Fork River, cottonwood bottomlands, beaver ponds, and much more. This facility is open to the public and offers free guided tours of the farmyard, nature trails, a library, and picnic area.

Proceeding further south, the trail is tucked into the Roaring Fork River hillside. You will ride through Basalt, Wingo Junction, Woody Creek, Stein Park, and then on into Aspen.

For a full description, check out a map of the trail at the RFTA website.

Recommended Options

Rent your bike by the hour and leave from the bike shop.

If you just have an hour or so to ride or just looking for a little more exercise we recommend an Hourly Bike Rental. Ride the Rio Grande Trail from Glenwood, and turn around when you’re ready to cruise back in the downhill direction. Hourly Bike Rentals >

If you have more time, take the RFTA (Roaring Fork Transit Authority) bus,  and ride this amazing trail in just one direction.  

Most folks prefer the downhill ride back toward Glenwood Springs; however since this is a Rails to Trails type of project, the elevation changes along this trail are minimal.  In either direction, this trail is easy and beautiful!

To bicycle south and bus back (uphill):

1 - Rent your bikes @ Canyon Bikes. 2 - Using your map, pick a stopping point close to a RFTA BB (bikes on buses) pick-up. 3 - Confirm RFTA pick-up times and plan your departure. 4 - Hop on the Rio Grande Trail @ Two Rivers Park just blocks from the bike shop and begin your bicycle ride south. 5 - Enjoy the spectacular bicycle ride along the Roaring Fork River, south through the valley, while you make your way to a "Bikes on Buses" bus stop. 6 - Hop on the bus at the scheduled pick-up time and head back to Canyon Bikes. RFTA website >

To bus south and bicycle back (downhill):

1 - Rent your bikes @ Canyon Bikes. 2 - Using your map, pick a starting point close to a RFTA BB (bikes on buses) drop-off. We suggest starting at Basalt for a lovely 21 mile ride in the downhill direction. 3 - Confirm RFTA pick-up times and plan your departure. 4 - Enjoy the spectacular bicycle ride along the Roaring Fork River, north through the valley, while you make your way back to Canyon Bikes. RFTA website.