First-tee yoga, summer concerts, and a dog-friendly patio are all part of the strategy to bring Carbondale’s most scenic golf course closer to the heart of the community—in many ways. Connecting with locals and visitors was the big-picture vision for Julie Warren and her husband Red Cunningham when they took over the management operations and rebranded it “Golf at River Valley Ranch” in 2019. This picturesque course was designed by Colorado native and golf hall of famer, Jay Morrish. An award-winning, 7328-yard, par 72, 18-hole championship public golf course boasts expansive mountain views and the pristine waters of the Crystal River and flanks four unique holes of play on a course set in perfect harmony with the vast natural river valley. Mount Sopris rises high above the Crystal River Valley floor offering breathtaking views from every hole. The clubhouse is also home to The Homestead Bar and Grill which has “the best patio views in the Roaring Fork Valley” according to many locals.
Julie made her way from Canada to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1996, originally hailing from Whitby, Ontario, where she was more acclimatized to lakes than mountains. While Julie has been a small business owner and operator in Carbondale for 23 years (some locals know her as a physical therapist practitioner) she and Red were looking for something new when the opportunity the golf course was presented, and they were motivated by how it could become a central part of the community, with Julie taking a creative approach to operations. “We were aware of the misperception that this was a private golf course… but we saw the amazing potential of this beautiful course and how it could become central to Carbondale community members,” she said.
Some of the new programming may surprise many—the sight of art-decked golf carts is now expected each summer as Carbondale Arts hosts its annual “Golden Putter” golf fundraiser. Julie and Red have found many creative ways to introduce new and non-golfers to the course for events like date nights and first tee yoga, and in the winter the practice course is available to sledders and the main course is groomed for cross-country skiers. In summer 2022, more than 10,000 attendees enjoyed one of the best open-air concert venues in the Roaring Fork Valley at the second annual ALC Foundation fundraiser, with a line-up headlined by Big Head Todd and The Monsters, hosted on the practice course.
Since Julie and Red came on board, the golf course has built up a slew of awards, including being named a top-ten public golf course in Colorado by Golf Week Magazine in 2022. For the couple, golf accolades are now just a small part of their mission for Golf at River Valley Ranch. “We are more connected to Carbondale than ever before, our team are all locals too and committed to creating a great experience for visitors and their neighbors alike,” said Julie. “Overall, a community welcome was the big part of what we wanted to create, and we’ve made even the non-golfers feel welcome and at home.”
Morning: Julie and her family have eaten breakfast at The Village Smithy for years, and it’s the start of all her perfect days. While Red orders a skillet every time, Julie likes to mix it up. “the tofu scramble is my current favorite, with a latte of course.”
Afternoon: Julie is an avid hiker of Carbondale trails, preferring the back trails of Red Hill to get a seven-mile loop in.
Evening: One of her favorite dinner spots is The Goat, where she orders the same dish every time: “it’s always the Brooklyn Falafel!” She rounds out a perfect evening by stopping in at Marble Distillery on Main Street for a craft local cocktail.
June 7-Sept 27th
June 10 (Sat)
Carbondale Pool & Sunlight Mtn Resort
Gus Darien Rodeo... Click to Learn More
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Roaring Fork Pickleball Association
June 16-18 (Fri-Sun)
YCAB & Darien Courts
Lucy Moncada Arcila