Settlers named this town after Carbondale, Pennsylvania, which was named to recognize abundant area coal reserves.
Carbon-based life forms dominate the Earth's 3.5-billion-year-old biosphere. Coal is the carbonaceous fuel resulting from the pressurized decomposition of accumulated plant matter.
The nearby Colorado Rocky Mountain School is a private boarding school with an oyster as its mascot. The school emphasizes the "wilderness experience." Noted alumni include Huff actor Oliver Platt and avalanche scholar Chris Landry.
Carbondale is located in the valley of the 75-mile-long Roaring Fork River near the confluence of the 40-mile-long Crystal River. The Roaring Fork is known for its deep and powerful current, clear water, and whitewater rafting. The Crystal River valley once functioned as the heart of coal mining in southwestern Colorado.
At 12,953 feet, nearby Mount Sopris is the dominant feature on the Carbondale skyline. Residents consider the peak the unofficial symbol of the Roaring Fork valley.