It’s no secret that Aspen has a plethora of kid and family-friendly activities. From the Aspen Recreation Center with its rock wall, lazy river, three story slides, and year-round ice skating rink to the many parks, playgrounds and public areas, filling a day is an easy task. But once those places have been explored, and you’ve taken the gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain, what’s next?

Rock Bottom Ranch


Rock Bottom Ranch, which is owned and operated by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, is one of my favorite places in the valley. And that’s not just because the knowledgeable, friendly staff are friends of mine. Rock Bottom Ranch feels like it’s a different world from Aspen. Located just outside of Carbondale, it’ll take you about forty minutes to get there; the trip is well worth it.

RBR, as locals call it, is a nature preserve on over 100 acres as well as a working farm where educational programs take place. Families can take farmyard tours (complete with goats, pigs, chickens, and ponies), sit down for a picnic, and then pick up sustainable agricultural products before heading back to Aspen. Jason Smith, the farmer’s director, lives on the property with his family and is often on-hand to answer questions; he’s added classes on butchery and cooking demonstrations to RBR’s programming.


“At ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch families connect with the local food system in a tangible way,” says Eliza Greenman, marketing director for ACES, “Meeting the livestock, visiting the gardens, and learning about our replicable and scalable models of sustainable agriculture helps to build an understanding of where food comes from. The 113-acre working farm is also a nature preserve and environmental science education center, where rich riparian ecosystems thrive alongside agricultural production. We welcome guests of all ages to explore the Ranch on a Farm Tour. If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll spot a migratory songbird or get to taste a Rock Bottom Ranch cherry tomato!”

hoop house

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has been a leading environmental organization since it was founded in 1968. Its environmental education programs aim to inspire a strong connection to the natural world, something that’s important to the Aspen community as a whole. A visit to RBR is the perfect way to making lasting memories on any family vacation.

Pigs at Rock Bottom

And for those visiting Aspen to see the leaves as they change colors in the fall, RBR’s Harvest Party is a must-do. There will be pumpkin carving, face painting, play time with the animals, an apple cider press, hay rides, a barbeque, and beer & wine for the adults. Plus, who knows, you might just learn a thing or two about eating locally, and making the world a better place.

Ready to visit Rock Bottom Ranch? It’s easy for Limelight visitors. Find out how!

Photos courtesy of ACES. 

About Kelsey Anderson

Kelsey is a Midwest native who currently resides in Colorado. She spends her weekends hiking, biking, and checking out local eateries. Her favorite things to do in Aspen are hiking around Maroon Bells, jamming at Belly Up, and exploring the latest restaurants.