The Crystal Valley is a scenic, recreational, and cultural treasure of the Roaring Fork Valley! We provided the aerial perspective to community members and stakeholders, along with information on the ongoing efforts to protect the river through a Wild & Scenic designation.
The Crystal River has withstood the test of time to become one of Colorado’s last untamed natural wonders. The river flows for forty miles from its headwaters in the Elk Mountains to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River in Carbondale. A group of local citizens and organizations has come together to advocate for protection of the Crystal River. They have a goal of procuring a Wild & Scenic River designation over the upper parts of the Crystal. This will ensure the river remains unobstructed by new dams or out-of-basin diversions, retaining its free-flowing nature.
In 2012 the Crystal River received the unfortunate nomination from American Rivers as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. Protection of the Crystal is crucial to preserve the many natural values of the river. The Crystal's braided channels support vital riparian and wetland habitat. The river is home to wildlife like deer, elk, bears, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and cutthroat trout. Beyond ecosystem values, the Crystal boasts amazing recreational opportunities like kayaking and fishing. The river also provides drinking water for 7,000 people, and is crucial to the region's rich ranching and agricultural heritage. Both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service have recognized the importance of the area, deeming the Crystal River eligible for Wild & Scenic protection. As support for protecting the Crystal River continues to grow, the town of Marble, Gunnison and Pitkin Counties, and the River District are convening a community engagement and stakeholder process in early 2023. This is an important step toward identifying shared community vision and goals for the Crystal River.