Town profile: El Jebel/Basalt
El Jebel is one of Eagle County’s most curious places. It’s only about 20 miles from Vail as the eagle flies, but eagles are able to fly across massive mountain ranges and wilderness areas. People are not. People must travel west about an hour from Vail down Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then turn south into the Roaring Fork River Valley down U.S. Highway 82 for another half hour or so. It’s much closer to Aspen than Vail, and workers who commute usually drive to Pitkin County and the Aspen area. When Colorado was platted in the 1800s, a map maker in Washington, D.C. drew square lines to denote counties, instead of taking into account river drainages in the Rocky Mountain region, which is how El Jebel ended up in Eagle County’s southwest corner.
As of the 2000 census, El Jebel had a total population of 4,488. It’s located in the Roaring Fork Valley, between Carbondale and Basalt, which are in Garfield County.
The community grew rapidly in the last two decades of the 20th century with the population increase in the valley downstream from Aspen, which took several steps to limit its growth, pushing Aspen’s actual worker population into other areas and forcing them to commute.
About three miles away is Basalt, nestled at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers and some of the nation’s best fly fishing. It’s home to Basalt’s annual River Days celebration. Basalt is also in Eagle County, but just barely, as that part of the Roaring Fork Valley meanders into Eagle County’s southwest corner.
El Jebel/Basalt, Colorado: http://www.eljebelcolorado.com
Basalt Chamber: http://www.basaltchamber.com
Eagle County School District: http://www.eagleschools.net
Eagle County: http://www.eaglecounty.us
Census Bureau facts: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/08/08037.html
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