Carbondale Ranch History Celebrated with New Interpretive Trail



One of 10 interpretive historic signs was recently installed at the River Valley Ranch in Carbondale as part of the RVR History Trail project.
River Valley Ranch / Courtesy Photo

Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch and the Carbondale Historical Society collaborated to create the new RVR Historic Trail to celebrate the history of the land that is now home to the RVR Golf Course and residential neighborhoods.

The RVR History Trail is a 2.7 mile loop that includes 10 descriptive panels, each 21 inches by 28 inches, mounted along a walking trail that winds through the RVR community.

The panels combine to tell the story of the land’s evolution from his home to nomadic Ute Indian tribes in the 1400s, to European settlers and settlers in the 1800s, to a working ranch in the mid-20th century , and its eventual golf course and residential development in the late 1990s.

“This is a unique outdoor history lesson, designed to recognize the rich history of this land,†says a joint press release from the Historical Society and the RVR Master Association.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting are scheduled for October 10, including trail tours for Carbondale school children and their parents, led by Historical Society Vice President Sue Gray.

“The history of RVR is closely tied to the history of Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley,†Gray said in the statement. “I learned so much while researching this project and am delighted to share this knowledge with anyone interested in visiting the historic RVR Trail. This project is a real community treasure.

Holland Ranch potato harvest in the early 1900s.
Carbondale Historical Society Archives / Courtesy Photo

The 1,200-acre property was for many years known as Pleasant View Ranch, considered one of the most productive farms and ranches in the Roaring Fork Valley, the statement said.

The Holland and Thompson families have owned the ranch for over 100 years, followed by another landowner who then sold it to future developers of the 550-home golf course neighborhood.

While planning the development project, developer Gerald Hines expressed a desire to honor the legacy of the Pleasant View Ranch. Some of the original homes, sheds and the old Thompson barn have been retained and moved to their current locations in the development.

One of those log buildings was the origin of the RVR History Trail, said Gary Lesser, chairman of the board of the RVR Master Association.

“In the summer of 2020, as I went through RVR every day in rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery, I kept seeing these old buildings and wondering – what is this? ? Where is it from? â€Lesser said,“ So I contacted Sue at the Historical Society, and the rest, as they say, is history. â€

The historic trail begins at Orchard Park, owned by the Town of Carbondale and maintained by the Master Association, at the intersection of Crystal Canyon Drive and Crystal Bridge Drive. The trail takes around two hours to fully explore, on foot or by bike.

There is no entrance fee for self-guided tours on the trail.

Senior Journalist / Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected].


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