Kelly Vaughn moved to Basalt more than a decade ago to work for the Rocky Mountain Institute, where she’s now the marketing director for development, working out of RMI’s beyond net-zero energy Innovation Center on the banks of the Roaring Fork River. She not only works green, but lives it too, commuting less than a mile to work from her home in Old Town Basalt, where she lives with her husband, 6-year-old daughter (who is in first grade at Basalt Elementary School), and their two dogs.
What’s your favorite thing about Basalt? It’s the cohesion we have as a community. I was so touched by how everyone came together in response to the Lake Christine Fire to support their neighbors, and by everyone involved in fighting the blaze. One year later, and we have incredibly innovative programs underway on fire mitigation and energy resilience that send a very clear message about who we are and how we recover. It makes me very proud to live here.
Describe your ideal day in Basalt. A cup of coffee at CC’s Cafe, an early bike ride up the Fryingpan to Ruedi Reservoir, lunch on the riverfront patio of The Tipsy Trout, then some fly-fishing and a dip in the river in the late afternoon.
What is your favorite thing to do outdoors? Trail run, hike or often a mix of both. Glassier is such a great new system and especially enjoyable once you get up those switchbacks.
What’s your favorite cultural activity? Or annual event? The River Rendezvous, the annual summer fundraiser for the Roaring Fork Conservancy. The setting along the Fryingpan River is stunning, and it always draws a fun crowd.
Where is the best place to shop? Bristlecone. I stop in there before every camping trip; plus the staff is incredibly helpful.
What is your favorite drink? Favorite thing to eat? To drink, a frosty schooner of beer at the Brick Pony Pub. It’s so heavy you can almost convince yourself you’re getting exercise as you lift it to your mouth. And when it comes to eating, the green curry at Mod’s Thai House.
Tell us a little-known fact about Basalt. It’s a mecca for bird-watching! I constantly see great blue herons flying by the window of my office, and there are three giant osprey nests that are in plain sight from various trails, and the birds come back each year. You can follow a nest on camera thanks to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails (pitkincounty.com/953/osprey-cam). Look for bald eagles and golden eagles in winter.
Anything else? If you’re looking for a unique experience, hike the burn area for an eerily beautiful scene. Once you get above the fire line, you’ll be struck by how different the views are postfire, as well as the contrast between the charred trees and lush regrowth of wildflowers.