Rock Bottom Ranch serves as ACES' mid-valley hub for environmental education, wildlands preservation, and sustainable agriculture. The 113-acre wildlife preserve and educational Ranch sits between the Roaring Fork River and the Crown of Mount Sopris and is conveniently located midway between Basalt and Carbondale on the Rio Grande Trail. Its acreage includes wetlands, spring-fed ponds, a braid of the Roaring Fork River, cottonwood bottomlands, a view of piñon-juniper woodlands on adjacent BLM land, teaching farmyards, pasturelands, and gardens.
At ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch we are guided by nature, balancing the wild and the agricultural, enriching lives and land. The Ranch is western Colorado’s “school” for teaching people of all ages how to grow healthy, local, sustainable food. This means farming using principles of ecology and natural biological cycles to satisfy human food needs while enhancing and protecting water, land, and climate resources. The Ranch is also home to our mid-valley ACES Ed programming, which features in-school environmental science education for Aspen, Basalt, and Carbdonale Elementary Schools as well as field programs for over 48 regional schools.
Originally settled and worked by the Glassier family in the early 1900’s, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies purchased the ranch from Charlie Cole in 1999 with an agreement to protect the property’s important riparian habitat, to broaden ACES’ educational outreach programs throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, and to explore the complex interaction between agriculture and natural ecosystems along the Roaring Fork River. A conservation easement on the property ensures that it will always offer winter range and unobstructed river access for resident herds of elk and mule deer. Heron, hawk and owl nesting grounds exist at the Ranch, and its wildlands provide habitat to wildlife including bear, coyote, bobcat, weasel, and beaver.
Visitors are encouraged to stop by the ranch during open hours (Monday - Friday 9AM - 5PM, plus Saturday 9AM -1PM in the summer). Visitors will enjoy exploring the gardens and animal paddocks on guided farm tours, seasonal programming for kids and adults, the Eco-Ed trail system and bike byway with 5 interactive outdoor classrooms, a cook book library, and myriad picnic spots including Cole Island, and myriad of picnic spots. During the summer months our Farm to Table dinners feature local foods from the Ranch and other regional producers.
Rock Bottom Ranch products, including eggs, pork, lamb, chicken, vegetables, and cut flowers, can be purchased at the Ranch during open hours, and at the Aspen Saturday Market and Basalt Farmers' Market.
Rock Bottom Ranch can be rented for private events, weddings, retreats, meetings and birthday parties.