Finding your perfect mountain home

There’s nothing like your own piece of the mountains, and Denver residents have opportunities few other city-dwellers have: access to world-class mountain homes.

For a growing number of Denver residents, finding a Colorado mountain home is an exciting right-of-passage. We are lucky to have so many little nooks — everyone can find their place. That’s what prompted me to do this series on the top five mountain home areas for Denver residents.

Mountain homes not only provide a cozy respite from upslope adventures, but also serve as a practical investment. Home values in many mountain locales are rising, some rapidly.

Renting your mountain home can help add to its financial sustainability.

This week’s post focuses on the wonderful Roaring Fork Valley.

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Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen)

If you can handle the longer drive from Denver, the Roaring Fork Valley, which culminates in almighty Aspen, is absolutely glorious.

Overseen by mystic giant Mount Sopris, the Roaring Fork Valley stretches about 42 miles from Glenwood Springs in the north to Aspen in the south, offering prime mountain real estate throughout. This valley is considered the cultural and economic center of the western slope. It may be the most famous place in Colorado.

Historic downtown Aspen.

Just about everything here is world-class: the skiing, horseback riding, climbing, sightseeing and shopping. Events, from the X Games to the Food and Wine Classic, attract people from all over the world, in all seasons.

Over half of Aspen’s homes are second residences. Aspen buyers are truly on a world-class stage here — a secluded resort vibe with top-notch outdoor activities.

All homes in the Roaring Fork will come at a price, but generally, the closer you are to downtown Aspen, the more expensive.

An Aspen pied-à-terre, or essentially a one-bedroom, one-bathroom crash pad, goes for between $650,000 and $850,000. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom will cost you around $1.2 million.

An ideal property is a three bedroom home in the historic west end — think $4.75 million. Expand your sights within a mile of Aspen and single family homes are in the $2.2 to $3 million range.

According to Zillow, Aspen home values have increased 11 percent in 2018 and are projected to rise another 9 percent in 2019, so the real estate is a good investment, too.

As you travel up-valley from Aspen, home prices go (slightly) down — although prices jump in some cases, especially with sprawling, river-front ranches. Heading north from Aspen, you hit a series of small towns within just 30 miles. In order, they are: Woody Creek, Snowmass, Basalt, El Jebel and finally Carbondale.

Each offers has its own set of charms and flavor, but all, except maybe Carbondale, essentially function as Aspen satellites.

Charming Carbondale offers a more down-to-earth vibe. It is becoming an enclave for artists and yogis, settled at the foot of beautiful Mount Sopris. The Carbondale Creative District is an amazing community collaboration. Worth a look, but inventory here is extremely limited so be prepared to act fast.

Carbondale, with a view of Mount Sopris and the Roaring Fork Valley.