Redstone, Colorado, is a quirky little mountain community surrounded by breathtaking camping and 4-wheeling spots and the icy but inviting Crystal river, and boasting a surprisingly fresh (if tiny) art scene in its downtown shops.
I first discovered Redstone, just up highway 133 from Carbondale, in the winter, when the powdery snow piled up at least a foot deep, and the fountain in the center of town was frozen into a smooth glacier blue colossus. The one convenience store in town had, as usual, taped up its two old-school gas pumps in shiny Christmas wrapping paper with huge golden bows on top, and the yearly snow sculpture contest was about to get underway. Redstone also holds an annual dogsled race in January and a Winter Fest in February.
In the warmer months, Redstone is the perfect place to splash around in the river, go for a hike, and then duck into one of several colorful (their paint jobs are a wonder to behold) local diners, where you can get a hamburger-or you can get seared ahi tuna on a bed of lettuce. Check out the BRB Crystal River Resort for cabin rentals right next to the river and rafting during the runoff season. Of course, don’t forget to check for vacation rentals right in the heart of town!
My favorite hike near Redstone is Avalanche Creek, which also has some great spots for car camping, and backpacking is allowed as well. This hike is a ways down a dirt road (I was fine in my Subaru, but I don’t recommend taking the family Honda down this track), so you get a fun back country Colorado ambience before you even get started. Although it’s 11 miles one way to get to Avalance Lake, it’s a great trail to just wander a ways down until your kiddos get tired and want to go back and roast marshmallows.
The rich history of Redstone is evident even before you get off of highway 133, as you’ll see a long row of coke ovens on the other side of the road as you make your turn into town. In the river, you’ll find chunks of stark white marble which the river has carried down from the aptly named Marble, Colorado, just up the road. And then there’s the lovely historic Redstone Inn-also known as Redstone Castle. This lovely old building made of-you guessed it-red stone, holds big special events each season, offers sleigh rides in the winter and carriage rides in the summer, and regularly has live music with dinner. It’s a great place find lodging for the night, or just get a tour and learn some of Redstone’s history.
Before you go, be sure to check out the inn and town’s websites for special events, and bring your swimsuits or snowshoes, depending on the season! Redstone is the kind of town with all the amenities you’ll need for an off-the-beaten-path adventure.