Carbondale is a Home Rule Municipality in Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The population was 5,196 at the 2000 census. The town is located in the mid valley of the Roaring Fork River, downstream from Aspen and upstream from the mouth of the Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs. The town proper sits on the south bank of the river, at the confluence of the Crystal River. Carbondale's horizon is dominated by the 12,953 ft. tall Mount Sopris several miles to the south of town.
Carbondale is located at (39.399352, -107.214820).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²), all of it land.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 5,196 people, 1,744 households, and 1,168 families residing in the town. The population density
was 2,583.8 people per square mile (998.1/km²). There were 1,821 housing units at an average density of 905.5/sq mi (349.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 84.28% White
, 0.65% African American
, 0.54% Native American
, 0.69% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 11.80% from other races
, and 2.02% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 32.12% of the population.
There were 1,744 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.32.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 37.4% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 110.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $52,429, and the median income for a family was $55,726. Males had a median income of $33,025 versus $24,786 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,383. About 9.8% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
Carbondale takes its name from Carbondale, Pennsylvania
, hometown of some of Carbondale's early settlers.
Carbondale's economy was initially agriculturally based. Farmers and ranchers capitalized on open lands around Carbondale to supply food for miners in nearby Aspen
, then a booming center of silver mining activity. Early in the 20th century, before the rise of industrial agriculture in Idaho
, Carbondale's primary agricultural product was potatoes. The legacy lives on in Potato Day, an annual fall parade and cookout in Sopris Park. Despite the non-geologic origins of the town's name, the Carbondale area does in fact possess significant coal
resources. Until the late 1980s Cabondale's economy was primarily based on coal operations up the Crystal River Valley. The coal mined from the area was favored for its high burning temperature, low sulphur content, and density. However, the coal deposits also contained significant amounts of methane gas
. In 1981, a methane gas explosion killed 15 miners
and by 1991 the mines closed down permanently. The rise of Aspen as a skiing mecca and subsequent hyperinflation of its real estate prices has forced a majority of its workers downvalley to other towns like Carbondale. Thus, especially since the 1980s, Carbondale has partly served as a bedroom community
to Aspen. More recently Carbondale has seen a boom of second-home
construction, arts and recreational amenities, and tourism as the area's wealth and renown has grown.
Despite a struggle to balance economic development while maintaining affordability and rural charm, Carbondale has managed to maintain its own identity. The town hosts a broad range of community events and supports a strong artist community. With astronomical real estate prices in Aspen, many artists and hippies fled to Carbondale and have contributed to its rise as a hub of arts and culture. Myriad town events such as the Carbondale Mountain Fair, Dandelion Day, Potato Day, local rodeos, and popular road races highlight the town's cultural mix. Additionally, residents are attracted to abundant recreational opportunities such as mountain biking, hiking, camping, horseback riding, downhill skiing (Aspen
& Glenwood Springs
), Nordic skiing at Spring Gulch
, gold-medal fishing, world-class climbing (including ice climbing) and kayaking. Carbondale is employing the "new urbanism
" development pattern to capitalize on the rich cultural assets in its old town core.
As the expense of recreation in Aspen has increased, Carbondale has seen the influx of Aspen-quality nightlife and dining begin to encroach upon its downtown historical district. Several Main Street pubs and restaurants have opened and extended their hours in order to provide a more-affordable alternative to Aspen for middle and working class people supporting the ski community as well as a steady flow of rafters, rock-climbers, hikers, skiers and boarders.
Elementary and middle schools
- Crystal River Elementary School
- Carbondale Middle School
- Carbondale Community School
- Ross Montessori School
- Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
provides bus transit in Carbondale.