Though Ruedi Reservoir is only 15 miles upstream of Basalt and a scenic hour drive from downtown Aspen, it is another world. Visitors searching for the ideal vantage point to contemplate the oddities of 21st century Aspen head for the waterfront vistas of Ruedi Reservoir—a 7,800-foot body of water created by the Ruedi Dam that offers boating, fishing, hiking and biking access. The picturesque getaway is easily reached, provided you don’t mind losing cell service when you start traversing down the two-lane ribbon road adjacent to the Fryingpan River.
The views are spectacular. But the most transfixing spectacle might be the one that unfolds around you: anglers tossing lines, friends launching kayaks, surfers riding waves, a dozen tattooed punk rockers gathered around a campfire. It is a place of scruff beauty, half-hidden, vaguely illicit and a great secret.
Before heading downvalley for a weekend on the water, stop at Replay Sports (465 N. Mill St., Ste. 11) to stock up on toys for the weekend. Replay Sports rents out paddleboards ($50 for the day), inflatable ducky boats and canoes ($75 for the day). It also rents yard games which are fun for the whole family: life-size Jenga, LED cornhole sets, LED bocce ball, ratter ball, croquet and spike ball. All games range from $15 to $30 per day.
Campers wake a touch before dawn to the sounds of nature rather than the alarms on their digital devices: turquoise sparkling water, vibrant red rocks, dense pine trees, a rocky peninsula with a makeshift beach serve as the backdrop for morning coffee. The Ruedi Marina Campground consists of four campgrounds accommodating 81 campsites in total and two boat-launching ramps. There are no reservations, as all sites are first come, first served. Load the boat with snacks, beers and scraps left over from last night’s dinner festivities around the campfire—and hit the water.
While tubing, skiing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are all popular in the wake scene, one of the lake’s growing activities is wakesurfing. That’s right. Wakesurfing. Trailing behind the boat, riders use a tow rope to pull themselves up and ride the steep face below the wave’s peak. When ready, the surfer will drop the rope and cruise along hands-free, like surfing. Air temperatures can vary 40 degrees in just one day so don’t forget to pack a wetsuit and rain jacket.
On the way home, stop at mile marker 10 to fill up a water jug full of fresh spring water disguised in green foliage about 100 yards from the mileage marker. Like a kid leaving summer camp, it’s never easy to drive away from Ruedi Reservoir. The return visit is already being dreamed out.
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